If you value your health, you would be wise to avoid fast food restaurants at all costs.
Not only does the fast food diet promote high cholesterol, hypertension, heart attacks, obesity and diabetes; such foods are also laden with added chemicals, and virtually all animal based food comes from factory farms.
The latter issue is highlighted in a recent announcement that McDonald's and Target will no longer purchase their eggs from Sparboe Farms.
The egg producer was recently 'outed' by an ABC News "20/20" investigation into potentially unhealthy conditions at their egg-laying facilities.
The company has been cited for at least 13 violations of rules meant to prevent dangerous salmonella outbreaks.
I've previously discussed the many sad realities inherent with confined animal feeding operations (CAFO's).
Lack of sanitation is a pervasive problem, and food borne illnesses such as salmonella are primarily restricted to such operations.
Ditto for animal abuse.
According to a recent report by ABC News:
"… The Mercy for Animals activist who went undercover to record the video inside Sparboe told ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, "I saw workers do horrendous things to birds, they were thrown, grabbed by the neck, they're slammed in and out of cages."
Runkle said the video shows how health hazards can be linked to large scale, low-cost egg producers, so-called "factory farms." … Sparboe executives told Ross the employees seen on the tape abusing the chickens were all fired."
Unfortunately, most restaurant chains get their food from CAFO farms; be it eggs, beef, or chicken. This is in part what makes fast food so inferior, no matter what restaurant chain you're frequenting.
The Smaller the Farm, the Lower the Risk of Salmonella
While federal authorities like the FDA and USDA are repeatedly conducting armed raids on small organic farms, co-ops, and even organic community picnics under the pretext of protecting you from potentially hazardous foods, the REAL danger actually comes from large CAFO farms and massive food growers.
Last year, federal officials matched the 2010 salmonella outbreak to bacteria found in facilities and chicken feed at two major egg producing facilities in Iowa. The outbreak relaunched the debate over whether eggs from smaller, organic farms are safer. The answer appears to be an unequivocal yes.
In a 2010 Live Science interview, infectious disease specialist William Schaffner stated that the smaller the farm, the lower the likeliness of it harboring salmonella. "The general thinking is that larger chicken farms are much more difficult to keep clean, and this makes it easier to transmit Salmonella," he said. This should be more or less obvious, once you consider the conditions that CAFO animals exist under.
The birds are often kept in cages that are stacked closely next to and on top of each other, promoting the growth and spread of harmful bacteria.
Studies have also confirmed that organic eggs are far safer than CAFO-raised eggs. In one study, more than 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, while just over 4 percent of organic flocks tested positive. The highest prevalence of salmonella occurred in the largest flocks (30,000 birds or more), which contained over four times the average level of salmonella found in smaller flocks.
About 95 percent of the eggs produced in the United States come from gigantic egg factories housing millions of hens under one roof. There are currently about 245 U.S. egg companies with flocks of 75,000 or more, and, of these 245 companies, 60 have at least 1 million laying hens, and 12 have more than 5 million!
These are the factories you want to avoid purchasing your eggs from, and since they make up the bulk of eggs sold in the United States, this means finding an alternative source. Fortunately, finding a small local farm or farmer's market that sells eggs is usually not too difficult, even in suburban areas. If you need help finding a local source, check out some of the resources listed at the end of this article.
Organic flocks are typically much smaller than the massive commercial flocks where bacteria flourish, which is part of the reason why eggs from truly organic, free-range chickens are FAR less likely to contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella. Their nutrient content is also much higher than commercially raised eggs, which is most likely the result of the differences in diet between organic free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.
The Health Hazards of a Fast Food Diet
Getting back to fast food for a moment, the health hazards of such a diet clearly go much further than the heightened risk of food poisoning. A case could even be made that fast food can barely be recognized as 'food' per se, when you start evaluating the actual ingredients.
As a general rule, "food" equals "live nutrients." Nutrients, in turn, feed your cells, optimize your health, and sustain life. Six years ago, film maker Morgan Spurlock vividly demonstrated the health consequences of eating nothing but McDonald's for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After just FOUR WEEKS, his health had deteriorated to the point that his physician warned him he was putting his life in serious jeopardy if he continued the experiment.
His cholesterol had soared and he started suffering from depression, lack of attention, and sexual dysfunction, just to name a few of the health problems that surfaced once he traded in his normal diet for three square meals a day from McDonald's.
His remarkable documentary, Super Size Me, ended up earning the Writers Guild of America award for Best Documentary Screenplay in 2005. It's still one of the most powerful illustrations of the dangers of a fast food diet I've ever seen.
By Dr. Mercola
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