Just a few days ago we had published an opinion piece by a food consultant who revealed what goes on behind the scenes in the fast food industry, where quality takes a beating and cheaper ingredients that can seek for a good price is all that matters. (More: The Shocking Secrets about the Junk Food Industry)
The response to this article was tremendous. According to the food consultant, "It was shared on various social media platforms and got many hits. It was even circulated in my office and was sent to the QSR's R&D (Research and Development) teams to share with them the consequence of this crippled creativity. It's funny that everyone who read it raised their eyebrows, took a breath and reconciled that there is someone amongst us who is perturbed. It's a storm in a cup which we all must look into."
We got in touch with few fast food restaurants to clear the clouds of doubt and here's what they have to say as far as quality control is concerned.
"Yum! Restaurants brands - Pizza Hut and KFC are responsible brands and committed to following the best international standards and serving the highest quality products to all our customers across all our brands and each of their restaurants. Our brand is synonymous with great quality food which is consistent regardless of the price point of the products we offer. All products served at our restaurants are sourced from the best in class, state -of-the-art manufacturing facilities that are compliant with rigorous food safety standards and audited regularly," Yum! Restaurants spokesperson.
The infamous 'yoga-mat' controversy roped in Subway and challenged its 'healthy fast food' image in the United States. A food blogger petitioned the chain to remove a controversial ingredient used as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner for breads, which is also used to make yoga mats and has been banned in some other parts of the world. (More: Subway Removes Controversial Ingredient)
We asked Subway how they've addressed this issue in India and here's their response.
"The quality control mechanisms at SUBWAY® are thoroughly supervised by the development agents, quality control experts through regular checks with authorized vendors in order to ensure consistency in quality of raw materials used for food preparation.
Indeed, SUBWAY® does believe in rewarding and appreciating its loyal consumers and is always keen to find ways to offer them everyday value. However, at SUBWAY®, the concept of value cannot ever be interpreted as offering lower quality ingredients. Quality is sacrosanct, for that is the underlying USP of the brand. Under no circumstances will SUBWAY®'s 'value offers' involve any compromise on quality. These value offers, in fact, aim to deliver a wholesome meal to the consumer at an attractive price point.
We would like to place on record that SUBWAY® restaurants does not use Azodicarbonamide (ADA) in any of their breads," Mr Sanjiv Pandey, Marketing Manager, SUBWAY® India.
Recently, the China Meat Scandal regarding the use of contaminated and expired meat products by Shanghai Husi Food went viral. Shanghai Husi Food supplies products to various fast food chains such as McDonald's, Starbucks, Papa John's and Burger King in several cities of China. (More on the China Food Scandal)
Another food safety scare in Russia seems to have got McDonald's cash registers dwindling on claims of alleged sanitary violations. It led to the temporary closure of five of their restaurants in Moscow and Southern Stavropol region. According to a Wall Street Journal report, following the food scandal the overall sales drop of 3.7% was the worst since February of 2003. (More: McDonald's August Sales Hurt by China Scandal)
We asked McDonald's if there are any precautionary measures that are being taken in Indian outlets while procuring ingredients from suppliers. Here's their statement.
"At McDonald's India, we go through a lot of efforts to ensure our food is safe for our customers and have stringent quality processes at every stage. In India, as also globally, McDonald's adheres to the highest food safety standards and pursues strict compliance with consumer safety laws and regulations. We source our products locally and ensure that all our suppliers are HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certified and also undertake regular quality checks at their end.
McDonald's India accords highest priority to the health, safety and well being of its customers. The quality of our food is very important and, with every customer, we're committed to serving the highest quality of products possible,"Mr. Sriram Venkateswaran, Director - Supply Chain & Quality Assurance.
In an attempt to change its image, McDonald's has launched several campaigns where they are now focusing on the fact that cheaper products may not always be low on quality. They held a dining event in New York to give a shout out to their new motto - ''Transforming dining experience of 'fast food' to 'good food served fast.'' (More: McDonald's Confronts its Junk Food Image)
We also contacted Dominos, haven't received a response from them yet.
In today's scenario, India is warmly welcoming a host of International fast food chains and the youth seems to be more than thrilled with the 'quick-bite' culture. But this growing taste for fast food is becoming a major concern.
For long, health experts have criticized the aggressive advertising and marketing tactics that these restaurants adopt to influence consumer preference. Previous studies have linked fast food to an increased burden of obesity, high sodium intake and cholesterol, especially on the youth. A recent report published by World Health Organization recommends stronger regulations on fast foods to help curb the global obesity epidemic.
Despite this, these restaurants have not encountered much opposition in India. They have, in fact, managed to garner a forever-growing customer base.
While they have been battling alleged health concerns, shocking revelations made about fast food restaurants using inferior ingredients and cost-effective but unhealthy practices, add fuel to fire. All we can say is that it's good to question and make more informed food choices.
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