Golden arches, a purple bell, a little red headed girl with pigtails, and an older gentleman with a black tie.
McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and KFC.
These are familiar fast food franchises all over the world. The fast food industry is worth billions of dollars. It started with a few men selling hot dogs out of a cart in California.
Eris Schlosser’s book, Fast Food Nation, gives readers an inside look into how these fast food giants became powerful and includes some of the controversy along the way.
Schlosser explains the American fast food industry has changed so much over the last 50 years. There were once carhops: servers who would deliver order to cars on roller skates. This later evolved into the drive-thru, according to Schlosser. People still didn’t have to get out of the car but carhops lost their jobs.
The aim of the fast food industry has been the fastest food for the cheapest price. If this means cutting corners to keep labour cheap, it’s justifiable, according to Schlosser. Cutting corners means safety has been compromised. Schlosser tells stories of employees suffering cuts, burns, and broken limbs.
Schlosser says the industry preys on the illegal immigrant population, ensuring injuries won’t be reported. It also enables owners to pay their workers less and give little or no benefits. Workers receive very little training to work dangerous machinery, resulting in injuries or disfiguration. The fast food industry has also changed the labour landscape in countries with restaurants in Germany, India, and England.
Money is given to elected officials by fast food lobbyists and safety legislation is blocked at every opportunity, says Schlosser.
If the American government passed the many safety bills proposed before Congress, then government officials would lose millions of dollars from campaign funding, says Schlosser. To implement safety standards, the cost for these companies would go up and could not be compensated without firing workers, according to Schlosser.
With all the injuries and illegal practices involved with the fast food industry, it makes the consumer wonder if the dollar menu is worth the cost to human lives and livelihood.