While the risk of contracting a disease like hepatitis A is typically a worry while traveling abroad to a third world country or a heavily industrialized city where sanitation and clean water for drinking is an issue, Dr. Oz reveals to viewers that contracting a disease like hepatitis A can happen in your home town as he reveals 7 dirty secrets that fast food restaurants hide from their customers.
“What’s really in your fast food? Today, the shocking secrets that the fast food industry does not want you to know,” says Dr. Oz as he introduces his fast food insider team that includes Chef Erica Wides, host of Let’s Get Real, food industry analyst and author Robyn O’Brien, and public health commissioner Peter DeLucia who together reveal insider information of what goes on behind fast food counters.
The following is a summary of the 7 dirty secrets they discovered that fast food restaurants do not want you to know about:
Dirty Fast Food Secret #1: The dirtiest place in a fast food restaurant is the soda fountain and ice chute
While many would guess that the bathroom must be the dirtiest place in a fast food restaurant, public health commissioner Peter DeLucia tells viewers that it’s actually the nozzles at the soda fountain. This is due in part to fast food employees rarely clean multi-part nozzles properly, and in part due to that soda nozzles are an ideal habitat for many microorganisms because of the wet, sugary niche a soda fountain nozzle provides.
“It’s a perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria,” say Mr. DeLucia.
In addition, he also points out that the ice chute and ice bin are rarely cleaned, and that too often employees will stick their hands in the ice bin scooping out ice with your cup rather than use an ice scoop. He tells viewers of one case where a fast food employee with hepatitis A potentially infected hundreds of customers by such practices.
Dirty Fast Food Secret #2: Antifreeze chemicals in your salad
“Propylene glycol is a chemical used in antifreeze that the fast food industry uses on lettuce, uses on tacos to help keep things fresh,” says food analyst Robyn O’Brien who explains that while the amount sprinkled on your lettuce may be small and that some experts state that there is no proven harm from consuming small quantities of propylene glycol, that this does not necessarily mean that it is safe and therefore customers should be aware of this practice.
“We don’t know what the long-term impact will be on that little boy eating a chemical that comes from antifreeze, or on a mom who may be pregnant,” says Robyn O’Brien.
Dr. Oz adds that milkshakes in fast food restaurants are much more than the simple ice cream, milk and vanilla extract drink that your mother may have made for you. In fact, he tells viewers that your fast food milkshake could contain up to 16 additional ingredients―including propylene glycol―and that we do not know whether those additional ingredients could be hazardous to some people.
Dirty Fast Food Secret #3: Fake grill marks on your burger
According to Chef Erica Wides, those black grill marks on your burger are often faked to make you think that you are actually eating a grilled burger.
She explains that while some packaged meats such as chicken patties that are advertised as flame broiled or grill charred, that the grill marks are usually burnt on with a type of cattle branding iron/Panini press while in the factory. But, if the advertisement does not say that, then those grill marks could be painted on dyes and chemicals to mimic grill marks with added smoke and char flavorings to complete the illusion.
“To give you the illusion, to fake you into thinking that you are getting something grilled,” says Ms. Wides.
Dirty Fast Food Secret #4: Chicken may not be a healthy choice
Ms. Wides tells viewers that the chicken breast sandwich you order may not be the healthiest choice on the menu because in fast food restaurants, chicken breasts are typically slathered with oil and butter to keep them moist, tasty and prevent sticking to the pan or grill.
According to Dr. Oz, approximately 60 percent of fast food restaurants prepare your chicken breast that way and that the slathered on oil and butter adds at least another 70 calories to your meal.
Dirty Fast Food Secret #5: French fries and milkshakes may contain beef additives
Ms. O’Brien tells viewers that French fries were often cooked with the same oil that was used for burgers, so the meat taste of fries is one that we are used to. However, when fast food restaurants began to switch to vegetable oils, it changed the taste of the fries leading the restaurants to add meat additives/extracts to the fries to maintain the earlier taste we grew up with. She tells us that when things like milkshakes are listed as being made of “natural ingredients” that beef extracts qualify as “natural” and may be part of your milkshake.
Her advice for checking into what ingredients are in your fast food is that you need to look online where the restaurants are required to list their ingredient info and look for ingredient words like “natural flavorings,” “extract,” and “essence.”
“Because that’s where things [like beef additives] can be tucked in and hidden away,” says Ms. O’Brien.
Dirty Fast Food Secret #6: The fastest food may not be the freshest food
Dr. Oz’s guests tell us that timing is everything in the fast food industry and that their goal is to have your meal in front of you as quickly as possible. One trick to making this possible is cooking fries and patties beforehand and keeping them under powerful heat lamps that will maintain their near-grill temp until it is time to place the patty on a bun and in its wrapper. The problem with this is that those fries and burgers may be several hours old by the time it makes it to your mouth.
Dirty Fast Food Secret #7: Best time to order breakfast is later in the morning
Ms. O’Brien explains that that chemical taste in your coffee or fast food breakfast meal may be the result of residual cleaning chemicals that coat much of the food prep areas when the fast food restaurant is cleaned at the end of the day the night before.
“They absolutely coat the place with industrial strength chemicals to clean any bacteria…what nobody stops to think about is that next morning, the first cup of coffee that comes out of that coffee pot and the first thing that hits the griddle, absolutely absorbs every single bit of that,” says Ms. O’Brien.
Her recommendation is that you may want to wait a little bit later in the morning before placing your breakfast order at a fast food restaurant.
For useful information about dirty food secrets that grocery stores do not want their customers to know about, follow this link to two articles titled “Five New Hidden Health Hazard Supermarket Secrets You Need to Know” and “Lice killer in your ice cream: Know what's in your food.”