Fast Food Nation By Eric Schlosser

The dirty secrets of the fast food industry are revealed in this well researched book. After starting with the origin of McDonald’s, the book promptly switches gears to the dark side of the industry; targeting children, cutting moral corners, poor food standards, E. Coli outbreaks, inhuman slaughterhouses and dangerous working conditions—all just par for the course in this Fast Food Nation.

RATING: 4.4/5

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KEY TAKEAWAYS:

• In 1970, American spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion.

• An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonald’s.

• Market research has found that children often recognize a brand logo before they can recognize their own name.

• At the time McDonald’s sold about 10 million happy meals in a typical week. Over the course of 10 days in April of 1997, by including a beanie baby with each purchase, McDonald’s sold about 100 million happy meals.

• McDonald’s purchases Coca-Cola syrup for about $4.25 a gallon. A medium Coke that sells for $1.29 contains roughly 9 cents’ worth of syrup.

• Increasing the federal minimum wage by a dollar would add about two cents to the cost of a fast food hamburger.

• Roughly four or five fast food workers are now murdered on the job every month, usually during the course of a robbery.

• In 1998, more restaurant workers were murdered on the job in the United States than police officers.

• McDonald’s cooked it’s french fries in a mixture of about 7% soy oil and 93% beef tallow. The mix gave their fries their unique flavor— and more saturated beef fat per ounce than a McDonald’s hamburger.

• A typical steer will consume more than 3,000 pounds of grain during a stay at a feedlot, just to gain 400 pounds in weight. Each steer deposits about 50 pounds of manure every day.

• Two feed lots outside Greeley, Colorado produce more excrement than the cities of Denver, Boston, Atlanta, and St. Louis— combined.

• Everyday in the United States, roughly 200,000 people are sickened by a food borne disease, 900 are hospitalized, and 14 die.

• To be infected by most food borne pathogens, such as Salmonella, you have to consume a fairly large dose—at least a million organisms. An infection with E. coli can be caused by as few as five organisms. A tiny uncooked particle of hamburger meat can contain enough of the pathogen to kill you.

• About 75% of the cattle in the United States were routinely fed livestock waste— the rendered remains of dead sheep and dead cattle— until August 1997. They were also fed millions of dead cats and dead dogs every year, purchased from animal shelters.

• A modern processing plant can produce 800,000 pounds of hamburger a day. A single animal infected with E. coli can contaminate 32,000 pounds of that ground beef.

• An American food processor can expect a visit from an FDA inspector, on average, once every 10 years.

• “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.“

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