5 Fast Food Restaurant Chains Who Rank Last In Hygiene & Food Safety

August 11, 2008 11:07 AM EDT (Updated: August 11, 2008 11:20 AM EDT)

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1. Taco Bell: In addition to having less-than-stellar health and safety reports, a multistate E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell stores secured it a place on this list. More than 70 people in five states were sickened after eating at Taco Bell restaurants in November and December 2006. The bacteria were traced to chopped onions.

2. Jack-in-the-Box: One of the most famous E. coli outbreaks occurred at Jack in the Box restaurants in 1993, when hundreds of people became sick and four children died after eating tainted hamburgers. Dozens of lawsuits were filed; one 12-year-old girl who lapsed into a coma after eating at the restaurant was awarded a $15.6 million settlement. Since then, Jack in the Box has set up several ways of ensuring the safety of their meat, including adding a new testing mechanism for E. coli and increasing the meat cooking temperatures.

3. Sonic: Sonic advertises itself as "America's drive-in"—and maybe it's better that you don't get to see how dirty the inside of the restaurants are. Besides having the worst employee hygiene of all restaurant chains, Sonic also has the second highest number of repeat health violations, according to healthinspections.com, which reviewed more than 7,000 records. A dead fly in an ice cube and black mold on onion ring covers were among the disturbing violations discovered at Sonic locations.

4. KFC. Colonel Sanders' famed restaurant ranked the second worst for hygiene violations. This rating includes KFC employees who did not wash their hands before touching food and improperly sanitized cooking utensils, among other violations. The fried chicken chain also ranked number four among chains with repeat health violations.

5. Arby's. The popular roast beef joint had the most repeat violations of all chains reviewed and ranked sixth for poor employee hygiene. In fact, dirty meat slices at two different locations—one in Washington state and another in Georgia—were linked to food poisoning. More than 70 people were believed to be sickened due to the Georgia outbreak.

The Dirty Truth
Think you're not at risk? Think again. About 76 million (or nearly one in four) Americans are afflicted with a foodborne illness each year, and about half of those come after eating at a restaurant. Here are two chains that were linked to highly publicized instances of foodborne illnesses.

Filthy Food
Dirty utensils, foodborne illness, and poor personal hygiene run rampant in these three fast food joints.

Recently Burger King & Mickey D's along with Wendy's instituted an employee training & re-training program that was specifically about hygeine, food poisoning & the encessity to keep things clean. Notice that none of the 3 are in the list! Do not hesitatae to leave a place if you observe poor hygeine, unsafe practices in the operation of the restaurant, etc. Such small things as an employee touching their air or face then handling food is a NO-NO....!

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