If Rick Ross is to be believed, he hustles every day. No matter how profound Rozay believes his hustle to be, ain't no hustle like a megalithic corporation's hustle, because a megalithic corporation's hustle is unchecked by basically any authority. Because of this, throughout the history of mass-produced fast food, there have been companies that sold fake meat, or at least hawked questionable animal carcass. From pink sludge at McDonald's to a lethal bacteria infecting Jack's box, these places that have sold fake meat are strewn across the American landscape like soot in a chimney sweep's lungs.
The Internet has created a world in which speculation runs amok, and where everyone can spread rumors about fast food joints peddling fake or questionable meat or scamming customers with altered meat products. Almost every well-known fast food and restaurant chain has faced adversity from the competition, customers, and even the government, at times. How they handled these roadblocks, which range from fake meat controversies to questionable farming practices, varies greatly. Needless to say, not all press is good press.
Curious as to whether you've accidentally put a questionable tube of meat in your mouth? Have a gander at which corporate food behemoths haven't been forthwith about what's in their meat (not as sexual as it sounds). Have your say on which handled its meat problem (or scandals) best, and which failed to get ahead of a PR disaster and sunk in a swamp of fetid flesh, in the comments below.
- Photo: William Hogarth / Public Domain
Ah, the halcyon days of 2011. The deaths of Steve Jobs, Osama Bin Laden, King Jong-il, Muammar Gaddafi. The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The Taco Bell scandal. Remember that one?
In that year, Alabama law firm Beasley Allen filed a lawsuit against the Tex-Mex food chain, accusing the corporation of lying about its meat. According to the suit, Taco Bell taco meat was only 35% beef, which isn't a high enough percentage to truthfully be labeled meat under USDA regulations.
Taco Bell fought back, claiming its meat was 88% beef. The company released videos (including a parody) of its production process, offered information to refute the attorney claim, and even shared a full list of ingredients for its beef, the first ingredient in which is beef (which, yay? Maybe? Shouldn't it be? Since that's what it's called?).
Still, this doesn't mean it's good for you. Associate Slate editor LV Anderson points out, "Most fast-food meat is very low quality—one study of fast-food hamburgers found that they contained connective tissue, blood vessels, peripheral nerves, adipose tissue, cartilage, and bone along with muscle tissue." Anderson suggests Taco Bell (and other fast food brands) use less meat and more filler for a healthier final product.
- Photo: Illustrator Unknown / No Known Copyright Restrictions
McDonald's less popular younger brother (but with kitsch appeal), Burger King has faced plenty of scrutiny over the years. In 2012, it was discovered Silvercrest Foods, an Irish meat supplier contracted with Burger King (and numerous other companies), was selling beef laced with horse meat. Burger King became embroiled in the scandal, though testing on its facilities and products show the chain never sold beef with horse in it (though the plant showed traces of horse DNA).
After the discovery, Burger King switched meat suppliers, and issued a statement declaring that, during transition, some items on their menu may not be available. This swift reaction, and the results of beef testing on BK products on facilities, resulted in a major win for the company and its public image.
- Photo: Pieter Aertsen / Public Domain
We-do-it-all retailer Tesco began as a small grocery chain, and has since expanded to include banking services, gas stations, and telecommunications. In 2013, the chain came under fire when several of its burgers where found to contain horse meat, which is illegal in the UK.
At first, the scandal was mostly speculation. Tesco representatives refuted the claim that its frozen Everyday Value Beef Burgers contained a significant amount of horse meat. However, DNA tests showed some packages of the brand's microwave Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese contained 60% horse meat. The company reacted quickly, pulling the product and others from its shelves, but the damage was already done. Tesco has encountered its fair share of scandals over the years, but the brand lives on.
- Photo: Kathie Bondar / Creative Commons
In January 2017, UK restaurant chain Whitbread was caught in a questionable meat scandal when it was caught selling a dish called beef lasagne that contained pork. The mislabeling was disconcerting for Jews and Muslims, whose religion forbids eating pork.
Whitbread representatives claim the menu item was supposed to read "meat lasange" after change in the recipe included the addition of 4.5% pork, more than a third of the total meat contained in the dish. Representatives insisted this was an honest mistake. The company has since changed the label, but a company whistleblower stated he had alerted management as to the problem months prior to it going public.