Employees Reveal What You Shouldn't Order at 7 Popular Fast Food Chains

April 6th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Most people are aware they aren't making the healthiest nutritional choices when they pull through a fast-food drive-thru, but some menu items offer more to avoid than their caloric content alone. In a recent AskReddit thread, alleged current and former fast-food employees revealed the most unsavory choices on their menus. As these accounts are taken from Reddit, they have not be independently vetted or verified.

It’s also worth noting that many fast food chains franchise their restaurants, so the food safety concerns at one location are not necessarily representative of other branches, or the chain as a whole.

Think twice before you order these items at popular fast-food chains.

1. Wendy's

If you've found Wendy's fries to be particularly limp or unsatisfying, it may not be all in your head.

"My brother's girlfriend used to work at Wendy's," redditor Wrinklestiltskin alleges, "and a saying there was (about fries) 'They aren't old until they're sold.'"

Some employees and former employees also claim that the chili was made from old burgers. Pzherrington described the recycling process:

"Also, the Chili is made with old, dried out burgers that were past their selling point. They're put in a warmer labeled "chili meat" and sit there for hours on end drying out (and smelling like dog food) Then they were boiled and chopped up at the end of the day. I guess that's not too bad, it was just the smell when opening the warmer that turned me off to the chili."

Others took issue with these warnings. User Jthorr remarked, "Chili is like fine wine, the more it has to sit the better it's going to be."

ATTN: reached out to Wendy's for comment, and we will update this post if we hear back.

2. McDonald's

McDonald's, perhaps the brand most synonymous with fast-food culture, actually didn't spur as much disparaging conversation as one might expect — though this might have to do with the notion that McDonald's food is expected to be less fresh than chains like Subway and Panera Bread, which trumpet messages that their food is healthier than alternative fast-food options.

Still, not all Mickey D's fare stacked up equally, according to Redditors who allegedly worked at the chain.

Surprising no one, the Filet-O-Fish proved troubling. "Filet O' Fish, its rarely bought and stock is going to be an hour or 3 old in most cases. Unless it's Good Friday," one poster alleges.

"Before we put it in the oil it's like some sort of hard, cruster over sponge," another claimed. "I don't mess with that shit."

Redditors also claimed that grilled chicken often sat around past its ideal lifespan, and Mcfans advised customers to specify "fresh grilled chicken" in their orders.

"McDonald's grilled chicken could sit there for a long time," redditor CaseyTwist claimed.

They continued:

"I've done a 4 hour shift and just forgot to throw out the old grilled chicken and make new ones because nobody ordered it, and it had already went past the timer when I got on so there was no beeping to remind me. It sounds stupid and it was. We're all human and humans are dumb, though.

"What you should order is fresh grilled chicken (Edit: Takes about 7-10 minutes, though!) I used to time grilled chicken for my breaks because it was just that good."

ATTN: reached out to McDonald's for comment, and we will update this post if we hear back.

3. Subway

Subway came under fire in 2015 when it's former spokesman, Jared Fogel, was jailed for having sex with minors and distributing child pornography, and has been financially suffering since.

But according to Reddit, Fogel isn't the only icky part of the sandwich chain.

In particular, sandwich artists past and present warned about the tuna and roast chicken.

"The 'oven roasted' chicken was actually boiled in a microwave," Hotpatobo claimed.

Another poster simply alledged, "Tuna sandwiches. 80% mayonnaise."

"As a former Subway manager, DON'T GET THE MEATBALLS OR THE TUNA," Redditor fluhx wrote emphatically.

ATTN: reached out to Subway for comment, and received the following response from a representative of the chain:

"The tuna sub is the only seafood sub that is on the menu worldwide — a testament to the popularity of it. The claim that the tuna sub is primarily mayo is simply untrue — the majority is skipjack tuna. Our meatball marinara sub is one of the most popular subs on the menu. And, the claim that our oven roasted chicken is cooked in a microwave is false. Like all our toasted subs, the oven roasted chicken is heated in our speed ovens."

4. KFC

Those who claimed to have worked at KFC recommended skipping the gravy, mac 'n cheese, and green beans.

"Former KFC cook here, I recommend that you don't consume the KFC gravy," Redditor JoeyBosa posted. "It is primarily made of the filthy oil that stores up at the bottom of the cookers over the day and is then served to customers the next day."

Redditor rancidkitten remarked, "Worked at KFC a year or two ago in the Midwest. Don't order the mac n cheese or green beans. They dump the small & large pre-made containers back into the containers for the next night. I have seen so many black noodles..."

ATTN: reached out to KFC for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

5. Sonic 

At Sonic, a drive-in fast food chain known for its roller skating waitresses and extensive soda fountains, one should steer clear of the steak, grilled chicken and ice cream, according to two alleged former employees' Reddit posts.

"Don't order Steak or Grilled Chicken... EVER," Redditor AntProtein wrote. They also claimed that the overall cleanliness of the restaurant left much to be desired, writing, "Sonics are dirty (at least in the region I worked.) We were continually understaffed and expected to run the entire place with a small crew and clean. We do the best we can but we don't get paid enough to stay after our shift and work off the clock cleaning up, it sucks but that's the way it goes."

As for the ice cream, SailoLee claimed:

"Use to work at a Sonic. Unless you're absolutely sure someone is cleaning it, don't eat the ice cream. No one in the store I worked at received any training on maintenance and when I became a manager I scheduled a large amount of people to handle the front one night just so I could clean it without interruption. It was disgusting, mold everywhere."

ATTN: reached out to Sonic for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

6. Panera Bread

At Panera, Redditor Demonic_Toaster shared that, "all the soups come frozen in a bag, all oatmeal, and pastas as well. stick to overpriced sandwiches, and salads. Eggs were fresh, bakery stuff was fresh."

(Having witnessed a Panera employee wrestling with such a soup bag, I can, at the very least, corroborate the first part of the part of the post.)

Before you go for one of the aforementioned overpriced sandwiches (tempting, no?), be warned — another poster added, "Anything that has carmelized [sic] onions. We only have one bag on the thaw chart because it's a waste to put more on. It sits there for about a week."

ATTN: reached out to Panera for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

7. Dairy Queen

One former Dairy Queen employee alleged that the chain offered virtually no fresh food items:

"I worked at Dairy Queen for a while. Please never order anything with bacon on it. It arrives cooked and we microwave it and then put it in a little plastic bin on the counter all day, for up to like 12 hours. Sometimes we left it over night and served it the next day because the owner wouldn't let us "waste" it. It's not even covered or anything. It just sits out at room temp.

"Pretty much everything at DQ is microwaved, but we weren't allowed to call the machine a microwave even though that's literally what it was.

"Here's what's okay to eat there: popcorn shrimp, corn dogs, and onion rings: anything we have to fry right before we serve it. fries and ice cream related things are generally okay too. Chicken tenders are iffy, but I'd risk it because they're tasty."

ATTN: reached out to Dairy Queen for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

The chain people were pretty pleased with: Taco Bell

For the most part, Taco Bell employees had good things to say about the restaurants' food quality and preparation.

Redditor iMeat posted, "I am a General Manager for Taco Bell. Order anything you like at my store. My team and I take pride in giving you quality product."

User iTalk2Pineapples echoed this statement in their reply. "I'm married to a Taco Bell general manager and I worked for Taco Bell for 5 years and I agree with this. Nothing was iffy. I ate every ingredient in the store and tried every item," they wrote. "Hell, working late night was the most fun time because it was a chance to get creative with the food. I never saw anyone pick up a dropped food item and serve it, it just wasn't in our culture."

[H/T Distractify]