No one goes to chain restaurants expecting a five-star dining experience, but if you're a tourist travelling into America, you might not know this key fact. Thankfully, you have this Reddit thread to guide you in what items to avoid according to actual fast-food employees.
If you're gun-shy about food-related illness, there are certain dishes, times of day, and other warning signs to be wary of if you want to minimise your chances of leaving the Outback Steakhouse with more than you bargained for:
Beware of beverages
The true horror is most likely lurking in your drinking glass, not your chicken entree. One redditor with the ever-relatable handle PM_ME_UR_BUTT_GUYS posted:
"[Soft drink] is the big one. Not only is it incredibly unhealthy (duh), every single place I worked had mould in their... machine. I cleaned them, of course, but there's only one of me and a few million restaurants."
"Worked at Max Brenner. Some cold drinks come with a metal straw that is impossible to clean inside of, so there's loads of old chocolate and other drink gunk stuck inside. Either avoid those or request for a plastic straw."
Fast food shouldn't be too fast
The second most likely hazard? It's a tie between the possibility of kitchen staff sneaking some of your fries — not necessarily a health risk, but annoying nonetheless — or being served old food. Redditor physlizze says:
"Buffalo wild wings. If your wings don't take at least 10 min to come to your table, you're getting old crusty wings. We were supposed to cook a minimum amount each time, and they could only sit so long, and then we got our asses chewed for high waste. So we stopped wasting old wings and served nasty crusty wings. This is especially bad between 12:45 and 4:30. Once it hits dinner rush it usually isn't a problem. But happy hour was always a problem."
Consider asking for your food to be made fresh at McDonald's if you're concerned that it's been sitting out for too long. And vegetarians should be cautious about shared cooking surfaces, stealth ingredients or frying oils; Buffalo Wild Wings reportedly fries everything in beef fat and KFC gravy may contain chicken.
Cross your fingers/heart
Most of this, however, is reliant on store employees actually following all the corporate procedures, so keep in mind that it may vary significantly by location (and if a franchise seems like it's run badly and totally unclean, it probably is). And we're assuming that you're only concerned about sanitary procedures here and not your caloric intake (which you've probably already decided at this point).
As Redditor covfefelajefe says:
"I asked two friends who work at Chick-fil-A if there was anything to avoid - their response was 'no, not unless you're counting calories - if that's the case, avoid everything.'"
This article has been updated since its original publication.