Dangers of Fast Food
The dangers of fast food come in two types. There are the obvious dangers posed by the high fat and calorie content of fast foods. There are also some hidden dangers rarely considered.
When a person is told that fast food is not good for them from a nutritional point of view, he is hardly surprised. The relationship between fast food and the almost epidemic obesity of the American population is a fairly well known fact. Still, the factors that make fast food so popular still seem to be powerful enough to make the majority of the population ignore the obvious risks of poor nutrition and weight problems. Fast food is easily available, relatively cheap, most people find it tasty and filling and it can be purchased fast.
There are very few alternatives to the high fat and high calorie menus in the fast food restaurants. Although many seem to be making some attempt to offer low cal alternatives, they end up ruining these offerings with sauces and dressings loaded with fat content. Even though these alternatives are offered, it is still the hamburger and fried chicken that is the king of fast food, and little has been done to reduce the impact of these foods on obesity.
One of the major culprits in the fast food is the cooking oil used in the preparation of so many of the foods. This oil is not normal cooking oil, which is full of enough fat, but, is generally special hydrogenated cooking oil that undergoes a process designed to increase its shelf life. This process makes it downright dangerous for human consumption as it produces high levels of trans fats. These fat compounds are barely recognizable as food by the human body and end up getting stored as fat cells or heading right to an artery to start clogging it up.
Beyond the nutritional problems are another set of problems. The fast food industry has changed the slaughter and meat packing industry. The fast food industry needs to produce tremendous amounts of chopped beef for its millions of pre-prepared hamburger patties sold each day. The methods used to produce those hamburgers are creating a situation where meat packing plants are moving away from their former areas where unionized and trained meat packers slaughtered animals in a fairly efficient and humane manner. The new plants have moved to smaller towns where underpaid workers, often immigrants, are slaughtering animals and producing meat in an unsafe manner. The dangers of contamination of this meat are getting higher and higher. The working conditions are dangerous for the employees as well.
The fast food restaurants are staffed by large numbers of underage workers. In many cases, child labor laws limiting working hours are ignored, and studies have shown that despite publicity efforts by the fast food industry to show otherwise, these workers tend to have higher incidences of drug use and do poorly in school. These social costs of the fast food industry are often overlooked. Finally, if we listen to the people in the local food and slow food movements, this whole fascination with fast, fast, and faster is impacting the very quality of human life in a negative fashion.