When it comes to healthy, nutritious dining options, the overwhelming opinion is that fast food doesn't make the list. After all, there have been numerous reports -- as well as rumors -- about unhealthy additives, pink slime, fillers, and other questionable substances that have been offered to consumers as quick and healthy options for any meal. It's no wonder, then, why the industry itself has taken such a hit to its image. While many of the charges of unhealthy and fatty foods remain, not all of the negative claims are based on factual or accurate information. Here are some of the more common myths about fast food, and some of the more uncommon facts.
When most people think of fast food, the first image that comes to mind are of juicy hamburgers and fries, tiny bites of breaded chicken, sweet ice cream, and cold sodas. While these offerings are still popular, many chains have begun offering a variety of salads to their menus to entice the more health conscious consumer. Although the salads certainly seem to be healthier than the standard fast food fare, nutrition experts have discovered that the salads offered at fast food restaurants often have more calories, carbohydrates, sodium, sugar, and fat -- yes, you read that right -- than some of the burgers on the menu. One look at the nutritional information for fast food menu items - often listed on the restaurant's website - confirms that salads may not be the best option at a fast food restaurant.
When McDonald's cleverly began referring to their milkshakes as "thickshakes" or simply as "shakes", the rumor mill churned with claims that there was no actual dairy in the product and that their substitute fillers contained Styrofoam and pig fat. While it's true that McDonald's does not use real ice cream, the truth is that their shakes are made using a pre-formulated mix that does contain dairy. The rumors about Styrofoam and pig fat being used in the mix...well, it's just that, a fabricated rumor.
Apparently, Arby's would not only like their hat back (thanks to Pharrell Williams), but they'd like their reputation back, too. Rumor has it that Arby's roast beef starts out as a gel-like substance; after being heated, the substance is capable of being sliced and served to unsuspecting customers. Truth is, the roast beef is packaged in air-tight bags, surrounded by a basting substance which, at first glance, looks eerily similar to a gel. However, once the bag is opened, the server can clearly see that there's actual beef inside.
There has been a persisting rumor surrounding fast food burgers; namely, that the fast food burger is laden with so many chemicals, it never decays. McDonald's eventually responded to this rumor, saying that their burgers simply don't have much moisture once cooked, and that leaving them exposed simply dries them out more. Under the proper conditions, the McDonald's burger would decompose in the same manner as those made at home.
Those wanting to take the family out for a healthy meal are often led to believe that dine-in restaurants are much healthier. However, a 2014 study by Drexel University found that although a fast food combo meal generally contains more calories than a person should have at one meal, the average dine-in restaurant meal has more calories than a person needs for an entire day.
For years, there have been persistent rumors about the amount of actual beef in certain food items available at fast food restaurants. One of the more popular rumors centered on the seasoned beef recipe at Taco Bell which, according to the rumors, contained Grade D Beef unfit for humans and that the product contained only about 35 percent of actual beef. The rumors actually stem from a 2011 lawsuit against the company, which was later dropped. To fend off these claims, Taco Bell updated their website, showing consumers that their seasoned beef recipe contains 88 percent beef with 12 percent of what's described as a "special recipe." However, the company points out that each of the products used in their special recipe include quality, FDA-approved ingredients.
While parents have traditionally taught us that breakfast is among the most important meals of the day, some who visit McDonald's during breakfast hours question whether Mom had fast food in mind. Some of the restaurant's breakfast biscuits contain a perfectly rounded product which some believe is an artificial substance, not an egg. Truth is, the key to the perfectly rounded egg is the use of a simple egg mold, which is what McDonald's cooks use to create their egg biscuits.
In certain parts of the country, the miniature burger with onions offered as a staple on White Castle's menu is a beloved part of the culture. However, in recent years, they have also been faced with debunking rumors about their fare, particularly the alleged shredded cabbage being served as onions. The company has responded to the rumors, informing consumers that those are real, re-hydrated onions.