Yesterday, we wrote about the Burger King employee who stepped on some lettuce and stupidly posted a photo of it to 4chan, and how it grossed us out because it is yucky. One Facebook fan thought we were being too harsh on the chain, and asked that we not judge Burger King for one employee’s actions–which is fair, except one guy stepping on lettuce in Ohio is kind of the least of BK’s problems. It isn’t just about the lettuce. There’s so many more reasons to judge Burger King than that.
Fast food establishments aren’t all bad–they provide necessary jobs for large numbers of people who might otherwise have a hard time finding employment–but, by and large, the food they serve and the way they purposefully mislead customers is.
Let us not forget that Burger King is the place where an employee once took a bath in a sink used to clean cooking utensils. Or that Burger King is home to such novelties as the bacon sundae and the pizza burger. Or that they’re the restaurant who just recently patted themselves on the back for going “cage-free,” which is an entirely meaningless label that will do nothing to stop animal abuse in slaughterhouses.
They also, much like other fast food establishments, continue to try to convince customers that they’re “better,” with cutesy badges and sentiments about waste management and humane treatment. They use recycled napkins! They pledge never to buy beef from recently deforested areas of the rain forest! They’ve limited sodium to less-than-astronomical levels!
None of this bodes well for Burger King.
But the real problem is that the vast majority of the regular menu offerings at Burger King are pretty unhealthy–and that they’ve been dragging their feet on sustainability and health initiatives, mostly letting McDonald’s lead the way. And when McDonald’s is the leader on healthy food, you know things are not good. So, it’s more than just some lettuce covered in shoe crud. It’s kind of everything in the place, and fast food on principle.
And yes, as many people pointed out on Twitter and Facebook, a few bad employees and poor food handling practices are to be expected from just about every restaurant (I understand–in college, I held jobs at white tablecloth establishments and dives, and the dives usually had the cleaner kitchens)–but that doesn’t mean that I don’t ever eat out because I assume all of my food is covered in pathogens because a line cook decided to get back at his manager by way of my salad.
The reason I don’t eat in fast food restaurants, specifically, is because I’m pretty sure the food is crap long before it ever gets in the hands of the employees. Sure, they may mar the lettuce or taint the meat or spit in the fries, but, as one commenter noted, eating fast food is like “rolling the dice” not because of the employees, but because of the manufacturers, the advertisers, and the general culture of unhealthiness.