The Dark Side Of Fast Food Chains

​Discover the horrible truth about fast-food chains ​and how they abuse immigrants and spread E.coli. Learn their dirty marketing tricks and how they get us hooked to their food.


Legal Notice

The information is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe treat or cure cancer.This information is not intended as medical advice, please refer to a qualified healthcare professional.

​The History Of Fast-Food Chains

Many fast-food ​chains started in Los Angeles around the 1930s. The big growth of Los Angeles occurred when automobiles were finally affordable.

By 1940, there were about a million cars in Los Angeles, more vehicles than in 41 states. The nation's car culture reached its height in southern California. Drive-in restaurants became popular there.

old-time carhop waitress fast food chains

​Old-time carhop waitress

The new drive-ins competed for attention. They used all kinds of flashing signs and colors to lure people in. The waitresses carried trays of food to customers in parked cars. They often wore short skirts and dresses.

Most of the waitresses were attractive and received no hourly wages. Instead, they earned money through tips and a small commission on every item they sold. Drive-in restaurants also became popular hangouts for teenage boys.

It was during this time that McDonald's was born.

How McDonald's ​​Began

Richard and Maurice McDonald left New Hampshire at the start of the Depression. They hoped to find jobs in Hollywood. The brothers worked as set builders at Columbia Film Studios.

They saved their money and bought a movie theater in Glendale. The theater flopped. In 1937 they opened a drive-in restaurant in Pasadena and tried to cash in on the new craze.

First McDonald's

First McDonald's

They hired three carhops and sold mainly hot dogs. A few years later they opened the McDonald Brothers Burger Bar Drive-In. The new restaurant employed 20 carhops and made the brothers rich.

By the end of the 1940s, the McDonald brothers got tired of the drive-in business. They didn't want to search for new carhops and short-order cooks.

And they were tired of their teenage customers. The brothers thought about selling the restaurant but then changed their strategy.

​McDonald's Speedee Service System Transformed The Restaurant Business

The McDonalds fired all their carhops in 1948 and closed their restaurant. They then installed larger grills and reopened three months later.

This time they created a new method of preparing food. It increased the speed, lowered prices, and raised the volume of sales.

The brothers eliminated almost two-thirds of the items on their old menu. They got rid of everything that needed a knife, spoon, or fork. The only food left was hamburgers or cheeseburgers.

McDonald's drive-in, West Stadium Blvd., 1967

McDonald's Speedee Service System revolutionized the restaurant business, picture by Wystan

Then the brothers also replaced dishes and glassware, with paper- cups, bags, and plates. They divided the food preparation into separate tasks performed by different workers.

To fill a typical order, one person grilled the hamburger. Another wrapped it. The next person prepared the milkshake or made the fries.

For the first time, restaurants worked like a factory assembly line. The new workers only had to learn how to perform one task. Skilled and expensive cooks were no longer needed.

All burgers had the same condiments: ketchup, onions, mustard, and two pickles. The McDonald brothers' fast service system revolutionized the restaurant business. But it didn't go well in the beginning.

McDonald's ​Cheap Burgers Became A Huge Success

The Speedee Service System got off to a rocky start. Customers pulled up to the restaurant and honked their horns. They wondered what had happened to the carhops. People weren't used to waiting in line to get their food.

The new system later gained acceptance because of Mcdonald's low prices and good hamburgers. The McDonald brothers now aimed for a much broader customer base. They employed only young men, convinced that female workers would attract teenage boys.

The McDonald's #1 Store Museum in Des Plaines, Illinois, fast food chains

The McDonald's #1 Store Museum in Des Plaines, Illinois, picture by Jerry Huddleston

Richard McDonald designed a new building for the restaurant, hoping to make it easy to spot from the road. He came up with a design that was simple and memorable.

On two sides of the roof, he put golden arches, lit by neon at night. From a distance, they formed the letter M.

Families soon lined up to eat at McDonald's. Entrepreneurs from all over the country copied McDonald's system in their hometowns.

But it was one meeting that made McDonald's one of the most successful companies in the world.

The Meeting That Made McDonald's The Largest Fast-Food ​Company

Ray Kroc was selling milkshake mixers in 1954 when he first visited the new McDonald's. The McDonald brothers were two of his best customers.

Kroc convinced the brothers to sell him the right to franchise McDonald's nationwide. The two could stay at home, while Kroc made them even richer. This deal led to the huge success of McDonald's.

Kroc decided to recruit people who would operate their restaurants. He asked people to give up their former lives and join McDonald's.

Dunkin' Donuts and KFC were among the first chains to allow franchises. But it was McDonald's that perfected new franchising techniques. It increased the chain's size while maintaining strict control of its products.

Ray Kroc was the man behind McDonald's colossal expansion

Kroc seemed much more interested in expanding McDonald's than to make a quick buck. The initial McDonald's franchising fee was only $950.

Although Kroc could be dictatorial, he also listened to ideas and complaints. McDonald's earned the most money as a landlord for almost all its American franchisees.

It obtained properties and leased them to franchisees with at least a 40% markup. The new franchising strategy proved profitable for McDonald's.

Today it costs about $1.5 million to become a franchisee at Burger King or Carl's Jr. A McDonald's franchisee pays roughly one-third that amount to open a restaurant. The company owns or holds the lease on the property.

When the company terminates the lease, the franchisee can lose their entire investment. Franchisees are often afraid to criticize their chains in public in fear of losing their tenancy.

Another reason McDonald's gained such a huge success was its fries.

​​How French Fries Spread To America

John Richard Simplot was an American entrepreneur and businessman. He was best known as the founder of the J.R. Simplot Company. It was an Idaho based agricultural supplier specializing in potato products.

French fries got popular in the United States by World War I veterans who'd enjoyed them in Europe. They were easy to eat behind the wheel without a fork or knife. But they were hugely time-consuming to prepare.

french fries animated

J. R. Simplot started selling frozen french fries in 1953

Simplot's chemists tried various methods to mass-produce french fries. They encountered many setbacks. Fries often sank to the bottom of a potato chip fryer and got burned.

One day Dunlap walked into J. R. Simplot's office with reheated frozen fries. Simplot tasted them and realized they solved every problem.

J. R. Simplot started selling frozen french fries in 1953. Sales were disappointing in the beginning. Simplot needed to find restaurant owners who'd wanted to buy his frozen fries.

​How John Richard Simplot Made French Fries Popular

Much of McDonald's success was because of their fries. The McDonald brothers came up with a complex system for making crunchy french fries.

As the chain expanded, it became more challenging to maintain the quality of the fries. J. R. Simplot met with Ray Kroc in 1965. The idea of switching to frozen french fries appealed to Kroc.

It ensured that you could maintain uniformity and cut labor costs. At that time, McDonald's obtained its fresh potatoes from about 175 different local suppliers. Crew members spent a great deal of time peeling and slicing potatoes.

J.R. Simplot warehouse between circa 1930 and circa 1945

J.R. Simplot warehouse between circa 1930 and circa 1945

Simplot offered to build a new factory solely for manufacturing McDonald's fries. Kroc agreed to try Simplot's fries but made no long-term commitment.

McDonald's began to sell J. R. Simplot's frozen french fries the following year. Simplot quickly became the leading supplier of french fries to

​Customers didn't notice any difference in taste. Frozen fries cut costs and became one of the most profitable items on the menu.

​​Much of McDonald's success with its fries came from its unique taste.

​Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good

​Customers, competitors, and food critics praise the taste of McDonald's fries. For decades, McDonald's cooked its french fries in a mixture of cottonseed oil and beef fat. The mix gave the chips its unique flavor.

Many people began to criticize McDonald's over the amount of cholesterol in its fries. McDonald's then switched to pure vegetable oil in 1990.

Woman eating McDonald's french fries

Many praise McDonald's for the taste of its fries

The switch presented the company with an enormous challenge. Without the use of beef fat, the company had to find another way to replicate the taste.

Its solution was artificial flavors.

​How Fast-Food Chains Use Artificial Flavors To Make Fake Food Taste Great

The flavor industry emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. It became popular as processed foods were on the rise.  Without the flavor industry, today's fast food industry could not exist.

The flavor industry is highly secretive. Its leading companies will not expose their flavor formulas or clients. Fast food chains want customers to believe their tastes come from their kitchens.

International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), is ​one of the world's largest flavor companies. The company has a manufacturing facility in Dayton, New Jersey. ​

The company creates flavors and scents for :

  • ​Potato chips
  • ​Bread
  • ​Breakfast cereals
  • ​Icecream
  • ​Candies
  • ​Mouthwashes
  • Deodorant
  • Bathsoap
  • Furniture polish
  • ​Corn chips
  • ​Crackers
  • ​Pet food
  • ​Cookies
  • ​Toothpaste
  • ​Antacids
  • ​Dishwashing detergent
  • Shampoo
  • Floor wax

​The aroma of a food can be responsible for as much as 90% of its flavor. Processed meals need flavoring because otherwise, they wouldn't have any taste at all.

The FDA does not force flavor companies to reveal the ingredients of their additives. These companies can, therefore, hide their formulas.

Flavors often arise from a mixture of many different chemicals. A single compound often supplies the dominant aroma.


Fast-food companies use artificial flavors to make their food taste great

Natural flavors and artificial flavors sometimes contain the same chemicals. The only difference is the production method.

A flavorist must always think about the food's "mouthfeel." It is how the texture and chemicals affect how you perceive food.

You can adjust the mouthfeel with various fats, gums, starches, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. The aroma of food can be precisely analyzed, but the mouthfeel is much harder to measure.

Soda is another surprising moneymaker of fast-food restaurants.

Soda Has The Best Profit Margin Of All Products

Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and ​Nestle control ​a huge chunk of the U.S. market. A large number of teenage boys are now drinking five or more cans of soda every day. Each can carry about ten teaspoons of sugar.

Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper also contain caffeine. These sodas provide empty calories. Excessive soda consumption in childhood can lead to calcium deficiencies and bone fractures.

Old animated ad of a woman drinking Coca Cola from a glass bottle

Soda has the highest profit margin among all fast-food items

The adult market is stagnant. Selling more soda to kids has become one of the easiest ways to earn more money.

​Influencing elementary school students is vital to soft drink marketers. Eight-year-olds are ideal customers. They have about 65 years of purchasing in front of them.

The fast-food chains also benefit when children drink more soda. ​Soda has by far the highest profit margin among all food items.

Advertising to kids is one of the best ways fast-food companies can earn a quick buck.

​Why McDonald's Advertise To Children

The explosion in children's advertising occurred during the 1980s. After ignoring children for years, companies began to pursue them.

Major ad agencies now have children's divisions, and many marketing firms focus only on kids. Advertising to kids means creating life-long customers. 

Companies now plan "cradle-to-grave" advertising strategies. They believe that a person's brand loyalty may begin as early as the age of two.

Girl crying outside a McDonald's restaurant

​​​McDonald's uses kids to nag their parents to buy its food

Children often recognize a brand logo before they can say their names. The purpose of advertising to kids is to make them surrogate salesmen. Most ads directed at children aim to get kids to nag their parents.

Fast-food chains spend about $3 billion on television advertising every year. Their marketing efforts directed at children extend far beyond regular ads.

​​How Fast-Food Companies Attract Children With Playgrounds And Toys

The McDonald's Corporation now operates more than 800 playgrounds at its restaurants in the U.S. Burger King has more than two thousand.

Playlands attract children and parents, which bring them money. Fast-food restaurants have become gathering spaces for families with young children.

Every month about 90% of American children between the ages of three and nine visit a McDonald's. The key to attracting kids is toys.

McDonald's happy meal

​​McDonald's uses toys and playgrounds to attract kids

The fast-food industry gives away simple toys with children's meals. A successful promotion can double or triple the weekly sales volume of children's meals.

The chains often distribute many versions of a toy. This strategy encourages repeat visits by small children and adult collectors. Happy Meals' target group are children between the ages of three and nine. 

McDonald's 1997 Teenie Beanie Baby was a particular successful promotion. At that time McDonald's sold about 10 million Happy Meals in a typical week. Over ten days in April of 1997, Teenie Beanie Babies sold nearly 100 million Happy Meals.

To supply their customers with hamburgers, McDonald's needs to buy large amounts of beef.

​A Few Companies Produce Most Of The Meat In America

McDonald's is ​a huge purchaser of beef. In 1968, McDonald's bought ground beef from 175 local suppliers. A few years later, the company reduced the number of beef suppliers to five.

​The top f​ive meatpacking corporations in USA 201​8 ​were: ​

five biggest meat producers in USA 2018

Five biggest meat producers in the USA 2018

​JBS USA was the top meat and poultry processing company in the United States in 2018. In that year, the company generated an estimated $38.64 ​in sales.

These companies do not have ranches. Instead, they outsource the work to large feedlot owners. These feedlots lease farms and run cattle for them. ​

The industrialization of cattle-raising altered the production of beef. Meatpackers had to respond to the demands of fast-food- and supermarket chains.

The Horrible ​Truth About Factory Farming

​Cattle don't eat grass off the ​field. Instead, they eat grains. Grain fattens the cattle quickly, assisted by anabolic steroids. A typical cow will consume more than 3000 pounds(1361 kg) of grain during its stay at a feedlot.

The process produces a fair amount of waste. Cows generate about 50 pounds (23 kg) of urine and manure every day. Unlike human waste, the manure is not sent to a treatment plant.

Cows live a hard life on the dairy farm.

Cows ​get mistreated at dairy farms and slaugterhouses

Instead, it is dumped into pits or vast pools that the industry calls lagoons. The amount of waste left by the cattle is staggering.

To become competitive, the meatpacking giants had to cut costs by lowering wages. They turned one of the nation's best-paying manufacturing jobs into one of the worst. ​

Beef Producers Hire ​Illegal Immigrants Under Horrible Working Conditions

In the 1980s large numbers of immigrants moved to rural Colorado. Meatpacking jobs once provided a good salary but now offer slave wages. The average worker quits or gets fired every three months.

Today, ​many workers at beef plants ​cannot speak English. Most of them are Mexican immigrants who live in places like the River Park Mobile Court.

It is a collection of old trailers a quarter-mile down the road from the slaughterhouse. They share rooms in old motels and sleep on mattresses that cover the floor.

Mexican man

​Mexicans are ​a big part of the workforce in slaughterhouses

Health insurance is now offered to workers after six months on the job and vacation pay after a year. But most of the workers will never get that vacation. 

A high turnover rate in the meatpacking industry prevents unionization of the workforce. It also allows them to control their workers with ease.

​Most workers quit because of the low pay and poor working conditions. Workers quit one meatpacking job and go from town to town, looking for something better. 

Workers also suffer from many serious injuries.

Injuries ​Are Common In Slaughterhouses

The injury rate in a slaughterhouse is ​higher than in other factories. ​Many meatpacking workers in America suffer an injury or a work-related illness. Thousands of additional injuries and illnesses often go unrecorded.

Most of the work in the nation's slaughterhouses are still performed by hand. Poultry plants can be largely mechanized thanks to the uniform size of chickens. Machines and robots can pluck, gut, behead and slice most chickens.

butcher cutting meat

​Many butchers ​get injured in slaughterhouses

But cattle still come in all sizes and shapes, varying in weight by hundreds of pounds. The lack of standardization hinders the mechanization of beef plants.

Tendinitis and trauma disorders are quite common in slaughterhouses. Meatpacking workers often develop back problems, shoulder problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The rate of injuries in the meatpacking industry is far higher than in other sectors. It is almost 35 times higher than the national average in the industry.

So what is the biggest reason why workers get injured?

The Biggest Reason Why Workers Get Injured

An essential tool in a modern slaughterhouse is still a sharp knife. Cuts are the most common injuries suffered by meatpackers. They often stab themselves or someone working nearby.

Many slaughterhouse workers make a knife cut every two or three seconds. This adds up to about 10 000 cuts during an eight-hour shift.

If the knife becomes dull, more pressure is placed on the worker's tendons, joints, and nerves. Workers often bring their knives home and spend at least 40 minutes a day to sharpen them.

meat conveyer belt

The speed of the conveyer belt is the leading cause of injuries in slaughterhouses

The speed of the disassembly line is the leading cause of injuries in slaughterhouses. Workers are more likely to get hurt the faster the conveyer belt runs.

The old meatpacking plants in Chicago slaughtered about 50 cattle an hour. Today some plants butcher up to 400 cattle an hour.

Workers often forget to resharpen their knives when they try to keep up with the pace. Meatpackers often work within inches of each other, using large knives. A simple mistake can cause a severe injury.

​Each slaughterhouse's earnings are directly related to the speed of the line. A faster pace means higher profits.

Slowing the pace to protect workers can lead to a competitive disadvantage. Because of performance anxiety workers often get addicted to drugs. Sexual abuse is also common in factories.

Drug ​And Sex Abuse ​Are Common Among Workers

The pressure of trying to keep up with the line has encouraged drug abuse. Many meatpackers use methamphetamine. Supervisors also sell drugs to their workers or supply them for free in return for certain favors.

Many women also get sexually abused on the production line. Most of the sexual relationships between supervisors and workers are consensual. Many female workers sleep with their supervisor as a way to gain benefits.

They do it to get a green card, a husband, or an easier job at the plant. Some supervisors become meatpacking Casanovas, engaging in multiple affairs.

cocaine on a table

​Drug abuse is common among Mexican workers

Workers are under tremendous pressure not to report injuries. The annual bonuses of supervisors are often based on the injury rate of their workers.

Instead of creating a safer workplace, slaughterhouse managers underreport accidents and injuries.

If a worker agrees not to report an injury, a supervisor can give the worker an easier job for a while. Or they can provide some time to heal. If the damage seems more serious, a Mexican worker can often return home for a while.

Slaughterhouse workers are not the only one that suffers. One of the worst jobs is in America is to clean the place.

​Why Cleaning Slaughterhouses Is The Worst Job In America

Late-night cleaning crews perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the meatpacking business today.

​A large proportion of these workers are illegal immigrants. They are independent contractors, employed by sanitation companies.

They earn hourly wages that are about one-third lower than regular production employees. Their work is hard and horrendous. These workers may have the worst job in the United States. It takes a dedicated person to get the job done.

When the crew arrives at a meatpacking plant, around midnight, it faces a monumental mess. Each slaughterhouse kills about 4000 cattle each day. The place has to be cleaned by sunrise. Some of the workers wear water-resistant clothing; most don't.

Dead cows hanging from the roof

​The working conditions in slaughterhouses are horrible

Their main cleaning tool is a high-pressure hose. It shoots a mixture of hot water and chlorine. The plant fills with a thick, dense fog when cleaners spray the solution. Visibility drops to as little as five feet.

Workers climb ladders with hoses and spray the catwalks. They get under tables and conveyor belts and climb right into the waste. Cleaners have to clean out grease, fat, manure, and leftover scraps of meat.

The crew members can't see or hear each other when the machines run. They routinely spray each other with burning hot, chemical-laden water. The fumes also make them sick.

The death rate among slaughterhouse sanitation crews is extraordinarily high. But even if they sanitize the place, pathogens still get into the meat.

​Hamburger Patties Often Contain Pathogens

The meatpacking system arose to supply the nation's fast-food chains. They needed to provide massive amounts of uniform patties to McDonald's hamburgers. But the system proved to be an extremely efficient system for spreading diseases.

Some new foodborne pathogens in the meat include:

  • ​Campylobacter jejuni
  • ​Cyclospora cayetanensis
  • ​Norwalk-like viruses
  • ​Cryptosporidium parvum
  • ​Listeria monocytogenes

​E.coli received a good deal of public attention in 1993. Doctors at a hospital in Seattle, Washington, noticed something unusual. A large number of children had bloody diarrhea.

Some were suffering from the hemolytic uremic syndrome. It is a rare disorder that causes kidney damage.

toxic hamburger

​Pathogens came make their way into our meat

Health officials soon traced the outbreak of food poisoning to undercooked hamburgers. Tests of the hamburger patties disclosed the presence of E.coli.

Jack in the Box, issued an immediate recall of the contaminated ground beef. More than 700 people in at least four states got sick because of its hamburgers. ​​One hundred seventy-one people were hospitalized, and four died. Most of the victims were children.

The Jack in the Box outbreak received a great deal of attention from the media. It alerted the public to the dangers of E.coli. But this was not the first outbreak of E. coli linked to fast-food hamburgers.

In 1982 dozens of children got sick by contaminated burgers sold at McDonald's.

So what causes the spread of E.coli?

​Factories Feed Cattle ​Dead Animals

E.coli transmits to other people with ease.  It is resistant to acid, salt, and chlorine. Antibiotics are also ineffective in treating illnesses caused by E.coli.

It can live in freshwater or seawater or kitchen countertops for days and in moist environments for weeks. E.coli can withstand cold and survive heat up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit(71 C).

E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times

E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times

You have to consume a fairly large dose of Salmonella to get sick. But a few E.Coli organisms are sometimes enough to make you ill. A tiny uncooked particle of hamburger meat can contain enough of the pathogen to kill you.

The most common cause of foodborne outbreaks is undercooked ground beef.

But E.coli outbreaks have also been caused by:

  • ​Contaminated bean sprouts
  • ​Cantaloupe
  • ​Raw milk
  • ​Salad greens
  • ​Salami
  • ​Unpasteurized apple cider

​What factories feed to animals is one of the leading reasons for the spread of pathogens. The rise in grain prices encouraged the feeding of cheaper products to cattle.

About 75% of the cattle in the United States ate remains of dead sheep and cattle until August of 1997. They also consumed millions of dead cats and dogs every year.

The FDA banned such practices after the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). It is also known as "mad cow disease." FDA regulations still allow dead pigs and dead horses as cattle feed.

Some plants also feed cows sawdust and old newspapers. In 1994, cattle ate about 3 million pounds(1500 ton) of chicken manure. Another reason why E.coli spreads is how factories handle meat.

How E.coli Gets In The Meat

The removal of an animal's skin and digestive system is the most common cause of E.coli outbreaks. Chunks of dirt and manure may fall onto the meat as you clean the hide.

Workers still need to pull stomachs and intestines out of cattle by hand. If the job is not performed well, the contents of the digestive system may spill everywhere.

The increased speed of today's production lines makes the task much more difficult. A single worker may gut 60 cows an hour. Performing the job properly takes skills.

meat waste on the floor

​Manure often spill on the meat and spread E.coli

The consequences of a single error can spread carcasses to a hundred products. Knives are supposed to be cleaned and disinfected every few minutes.

But that is something that workers in a hurry tend to forget. A contaminated knife spreads germs to everything it touches.

Overworked, often illiterate workers do not always understand the importance of good hygiene. They drop meat on the floor and then place it right back on the conveyer belt.

Dairy cattle are the animals most likely to be diseased and riddled with antibiotics. The industrial milk production makes them sicker than cows in a large feedlot.

Dairy cattle can live as long as ​40 years. But most of them are often slaughtered at the age of four when their milk output starts to decline. McDonald's relies heavily on dairy cattle for its hamburger supplies.

The poultry business also misuses people and animals.

​How McNuggets Revolutionized The Poultry Business

The poultry industry also transformed by a wave of mergers in the 1980s. Eight chicken processors now control about two-thirds of the American market. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi raise more than half of the chicken in the U.S.

Many factors helped revolutionize the poultry industry. Chicken McNugget was the major reason. Fred Turner wanted McDonald's to sell a chicken meal.  A lab developed a new technology for manufacturing McNuggets.

The initial test-marketing of McNuggets was beyond successful. McDonald's then recruited Tyson Foods to guarantee an adequate supply.


McNuggets ​are the major reason why the poultry ​industry expanded

Tyson, based in Arkansas, was one of the nation's leading chicken processors. Soon the company developed a new breed of chicken to ease the production of McNuggets. This new race had unusually large breasts.

Chicken McNuggets spread nationwide in 1983. McDonald's then became the second-largest purchaser of chicken in the U.S. Only KFC surpassed them.

McNuggets tasted good and were easy to chew. They became popular among young children. They still derive much of their flavor from beef additives. Chicken McNuggets also contain twice as much fat per ounce as a hamburger.

The McNugget helped change the system for raising and processing poultry. In 1992 American consumption of chicken surpassed beef. The McNugget made Tyson Foods into the world's largest chicken processor.

​Independent Contractors Raise Chickens

Tyson ​is the Mcdonald's main supplier of McNuggets. ​It is a company that breeds, slaughters, and processes chicken. It does not, however, raise the birds.

It leaves the financial risks of that task to thousands of independent contractors. Tyson chicken growers never own the birds in their poultry houses.

The company only supplies its growers with one-day-old chicks. Seven weeks later Tyson picks up full-grown chickens ready for slaughter.

Between the day they are born, they spend their entire lives on the grower's property. But they belong to Tyson.

Chickens crammed in a poultry house

Chickens crammed in a poultry house

The company supplies food, veterinary services, and technical support. It also determines feeding schedules and demands equipment upgrades. Supervisors make sure that operators follow corporate directives.

At the processing plant, Tyson employees count and weigh the birds. A grower's income follows a formula based upon the count, weight, and the amount of feed used.

Tyson often treats its growers bad.

Tyson ​Abuses Chicken Growers

Chicken growers provide the land, the labor, the poultry houses, and the fuel. Most growers must borrow money to build homes, which cost about $150,000 each and hold about 25 000 birds.

Nearly half of the nation's chicken growers leave the business after just three years. They either sell out or lose everything. The back roads of rural Arkansas are full of abandoned poultry houses.

Empty poultry house

​Many poultry houses stand empty as owners go out of business

A chicken grower who is unhappy with Tyson has little power to do anything about it. Poultry contracts are short-term. Growers who complain may soon find themselves with empty poultry houses.

Growers who are labeled difficult often have no choice but to find a new line of work. A processor can terminate a contract with a grower whenever it likes. It owns the birds. Every day that poultry houses sit empty, the grower loses money.

Another reason why fast-food companies can offer low-cost products is because of their cheap labor.

​Teenagers And Immigrants Dominate Fast-Food Chains Workforce​

No other industry in the United States has a workforce so dominated by adolescents. About two-thirds of the nation's fast-food workers are under the age of twenty.

Even the managers and assistant managers are sometimes in their late teens. The fast-food industry seeks out part-time, unskilled, low pay workers.

McDonald's worker at the counter

Many teenagers and immigrants work at fast-food restaurants, picture by Consumerist Dot Com

Teenagers have been the perfect candidates for these jobs. They are less expensive to hire than adults and easier to control. Since most teenagers still live at home, they can afford to work for low wages.

As the number of teenagers declined, fast food chains began to hire recent immigrants. English is now the second language of at least one-sixth of the nation's restaurant workers.

About one-third of that group speaks no English at all. Many know only the names of the items on the menu. They speak "McDonald's English."

The management no longer depends upon the talents or skills of its workers. Machines and the operating system do that.

​Computers And Machines Tell Employees What To Do

It was McDonald's executive Fred Turner who created the company's production system. In 1958, Turner put together an operation and training manual for the company.

It had 75 pages and specified how to do everything. The McDonald's operations manual today has ten times more pages.

Workers behind the counter in McDonald's

Machines and computers tell employees what to do, picture by Steve

It contains precise instructions on how to operate machines and how each item on the menu should look. A McDonald's kitchen is full of buzzers and flashing lights that tell employees what to do.

At the front counter, computerized cash registers issue their commands. Once the cashier takes an order, buttons light up, and the computer suggests other menu items. Jobs are so simple that you can replace workers with ease.

The Turnover Rate Of Fast-Food Workers Is Staggering

The turnover rates for fast-food joints are among the highest in the American economy, about 300 to 400%. A typical fast-food worker quits or is fired every three to four months.

Fast-food jobs are one of the lowest paying in the country. Roughly 90% of the nation's fast-food workers get an hourly wage.

There are no provided benefits, and they only work when they are needed. Fast-food chains often reward managers who keep their labor costs low.

Fast-food workers on strike for higher minimum wage and better benefits

Fast-food workers on strike for higher minimum wage and better benefits, picture by Fibonacci Blue

If the restaurant is busy, they work longer than usual. And if the business is slow, they send them home early. Managers try to make sure that each worker works less than 40 hours a week. By doing so, they avoid any overtime payments.

A typical McDonald's or Burger King restaurant has about 50 crew members. They work an average of 30 hours a week. By hiring a large number of crew members, they keep their labor costs to a bare minimum.

If you want to become healthier and create a better world, you need to avoid fast-food restaurants. Learn how to eat better and prevent cancer below.  Your body and the environment will thank you later.


The fast-food industry began in the first half of the 20th century.

The McDonald brothers' fast service system revolutionized the restaurant business.

Franchising is one reason why McDonald's succeeded.

J. R. Simplot Company supplies the majority of the french fries that McDonald's sells in the United States.

​Fast-food chains use artificial flavors to make their food taste great.

Soda has by far the highest margins among fast-food products.

Fast-food restaurants advertise to kids and lure them in with playgrounds and toys.

A few companies produce most of the meat in America.

Meatpackers had to cut costs by lowering wages.

Immigrants work at most slaughterhouses.

The speed of the disassembly line is the leading cause of injuries in slaughterhouses.

Late-night cleaning crews perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the meatpacking business today.

The cattle feed and the removal of cows' digestive systems are the most common cause of E.coli outbreaks.

The poultry industry misuses its growers.

Teenagers and immigrants are a big part of fast-food restaurants' workforce.

The turnover rates for fast-food workers are among the highest in America.

​How To ​Stop Eating At ​Fast-Food Chains 

​Eat a whole food low-fat plant-based diet

Action Steps

One great way to avoid cancer is to stop eating fast-foods. Meat, dairy, and oils increase our risk of cancer. Our bodies work best when we eat whole vegetables and fruits.

If you want to learn how to eat a cancer-preventing diet please read our cancer diet and nutrition guide. This guide will teach everything you need to know to succeed on a plant-based diet.

You will feel better than you have ever before. Soon you will never want to enter ​​fast-food chains ever again.

​Read Our Free Cancer Nutrition And Diet Guide For Free

​Click ​the link below to read this massive guide for free.


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