Per. 1 3/31/08
Fast Food Nation
Study Guide Part 2
How does the amount spent on fast food compare with the amount spent on other
things in our society?
The amount of money Americans spend on fast food by Americans is exponentially
greater than the amount of money spent on other items. Americans “spend more on fast
food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music -
Why is fast food worth studying?
Fast food is worth studying because it can reveal more than just what kind of food a
nation loves, it can show us as a nation how fast food is changing our society.
What are some of the observations about McDonald's made by the author?
The author has observed that in America McDonald’s has grown a lot in the last few
years and it has a great impact on our society.
What does the author say about independent farmers?
The author, Eric Schlosser, said that now independent farmers are becoming less
independent. They are being taken over or kicked off their land by big business men.
What does the author say about the political clout of the meat packing industry?
Schlosser states that many of the meat sold by fast food restaurants is possibly
contaminated and Congress, led by meat industry lobbyists, lacks the power to stop it.
According to the author, why did he write this book?
Eric says that he writes this book to inform the uninformed. He wants the people of
America and the world to know what really happens behind the counter.
Chapter 1, "The Founding Fathers"
What restaurant chain did Carl Karcher start?
Carl Karcher started the restaurant chain Carls Jr.
Why did General Motors want to buy trolley systems throughout the U.S.?
General Motors bought many trolley systems around the US to rip them down and put up
bus routs, buses made by GM.
What was the "Speedee Service System" and how was it different from what other
fast food restaurants were doing?
The “Speedee Service System” was the system of service developed by the Macdonald
brothers. It was where every worker had one specific task, there wasn’t any dishes, and
the menu was simplified. Everyone else in the food business had hired cooks, elaborate
menus and washed reusable dishes.
What were some of the characteristics of the men who started the fast food industry?
The men who started the fast food industry were genius, intuitive, appealing to the
masses and overall lucky.
What were some of the other fast food restaurants that were inspired by McDonald's
approach to food service?
Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Insta-Burger-King were all created with the idea of the
Speedee Service System in mind.
Chapter 2, "Your Trusted Friends"
What are some of the parallels between Ray Kroc and Walt Disney?
The parallels between Ray Croc and Walt Disney are that they both have affected US
society. Our culture will be forever changed because of the food of McDonalds and the
entertainment provided by these two men.
How does the author describe Walt Disney and Ray Kroc's involvement in politics?
Kroc’s and Disney’s involvement in politics was convenient for them and helped their
What is synergy in marketing and what are some of the ways that fast food
companies practice synergy?
Synergy is marketing is where one person advertises his product and sells pre-opening
products for that one product. Fast food companies use synergy by selling their own
products and selling the paraphernalia of other companies such as Disney.
Why, in the 1980s, did companies start marketing to kids and what were some of
the ways in which they did this?
In the 1980’s marketers started targeting kids because they realized they could get more
sales if the kids begged for the product.
How successful have efforts been to limit advertising aimed at children?
The efforts to limit advertising to kids have not been very successful at all. The big
corporations just won’t allow people like the FTC banning advertisements to one of their
biggest customer class.
What does the author say about marketing fast food products in the schools?
The author states that advertising in schools is very controversial, but many schools
desperately need the money. He says that it’s really a choice between the health of the
children and their education.
Chapter 3, "Behind the Counter"
In what ways is Colorado Springs today much like southern California?
Colorado Springs today has many chain restaurants and new businesses like the area of
Southern California. It has also quickly acquired a great population.
What new businesses have moved into Colorado Springs in recent years?
Hewlett Packard and Kaman Services were new businesses that moved into Colorado
What type of business is the largest private employer in the state of Colorado?
The military is the largest private employer in the state of Colorado.
How does McDonald's decide where to build new restaurants?
McDonalds decides to put their restaurants in areas that are going to eventually be
developed and grown into. They buy the land beforehand and then wait for people to
come to the area before setting up a store there.
Why are so many fast food employees teenagers?
Most of fast food workers are teenagers because they accept lower wages and they, in the
eyes of the employer, are easier to control than adults.
What is "throughput?" Where did the term come from and how does it apply to
the fast food industry?
“Throughput” is the speed and volume of the company’s flow. Business historian Alfred
Chandler created it to describe the fast food business. It incorporates the fast food
business because this “throughput” can help measure how efficient and effective the store
What is meant by "McDonald's English?"
“McDonalds English” is classified when fast food workers who don’t speak English only
know the names of the items on the menu.
What is the average job turnover rate in the fast food industry?
The average turnover rate for the fast food business is 300 to 400 percent.
How has the "real value" of wages at fast food restaurants changed over time?
The real value of the minimum wage has overall been worse than the 1960’s. Its real
value is still about 27% behind.
How has the fast food industry responded to efforts to unionize its workers?
Fast food companies have decentralized their hiring techniques and also have “cared
more” for their workers when union support rises.
How many workers at McDonald's in North America are unionized?
No workers at McDonald’s in North America are unionized.
What are the benefits and costs of having teenagers work after school?
The gains from after-school teenager workers are that they work longer because they
need money. The costs are that the kids tend to turn into bad eggs if they work to long.
Working a lot during the school year has shown researchers that it has more negative
effects on the teenager.
What is the impact of the Fair Labor Standards Act and of Colorado state law on
the hours that kids in Colorado Springs work at fast food restaurants?
The Fair Labor Standards Act has no impact at all on the hours teenagers work in
Colorado. Kids still work 8-12 hour shifts.
What does the author say about robbery and murder in fast food restaurants?
Schlosser stated that in the fast food business there is a lot of danger and crime. 4 or 5
workers are killed a month in fast food robberies.
Who is often responsible for committing robberies of fast food restaurants?
The young and the poor, like the workers at the restaurants are usually responsible for the
crimes that occur.
How has the fast food industry responded to efforts by OSHA to reduce
The fast food industry has opposed all acts and guidelines proposed by the OSHA.
Chapter 4, "Success"
What was different about the way McDonald's franchised businesses?
McDonalds was different in the way that it, Kroc, didn’t so much care about the money
as it did about the deal and the expansion McDonalds was making.
How does the cost of a McDonald's franchise compare with the cost of a franchise
from other fast food chains?
A McDonalds franchise is much cheaper than any other fast food company.
How does the failure rate of franchises in general compare with that of other
Franchises did overall worse than other businesses.
Among franchises what is "Encroachment?"
“Encroachment” among franchisees is when another store from the same company is
placed close to the existing one.
What are some of the disadvantages of running a franchise?
Some disadvantages to running franchises are that they are unreliable and hard to keep
up. They are dependent on everything at the beginning.
What fast food chain is considered the worst in its treatment of franchisees?
Burger King is considered the worst fast food franchisee.
Chapter 5, "Why the Fries Taste Good"
What connection does J. R. Simplot have to the fast food industry?
JR Simplot is the owner of the company that grows and produces the potatoes that are
sold to the fast food companies. In this way he is connected to the major fast food
How have the potato farms in Idaho changed in the last 25 years or so?
In the last 25 years potato farms in Idaho have gone from mostly independent farming to
conformed mass producing companies running the farms. Not very many potato farms
are independently owned now because of the increased demands brought on by the fast
What is PGI and how successful has it been at organizing potato farmers?
PGI is an organization that helps small farmers negotiate deals with the larger
corporation. Overall it hasn’t been very effective.
What is the "fallacy of composition?"
The fallacy of composition is an error in logic. It is the act of believing that if something
is beneficial or appropriate for one person, it is beneficial or appropriate for a whole
group of people.
What makes McDonald's french fries taste different from the fries of other fast
McDonald’s french fries taste different from the fries of other fast food restaurants
because they cook them in oil that has certain added ingredients that increase their taste.
What are some of the similarities and some of the differences between "artificial
flavors" and "natural flavors?"
Some of the similarities between artificial flavors and natural flavors are that they can
produce a very similar taste or even chemical structure, but the differences between them
are in their production. Artificial flavors are produced in such a way needed by man,
while natural flavors are found naturally.
Chapter 6, "On the Range"
What are some of the problems facing cattle ranchers?
Cattle ranchers today are facing many problems such as being run down or taken over by
the larger meat industries. Cattle Ranchers also have problem making profitable deals
with the big firms and they also have trouble ranching with the great loss of land due to
What impact has the consolidation of the meat packing industry had on cattle
The consolidation for the meat packing industry has had a horrifying impact. The cattle
are now being sold for less and the meat packers are overall trying to buy out the
What are "captive supplies" of cattle?
The cattle that are bought through a contract before birth are “captive supplies.”
What was the impact of the Chicken McNugget on the poultry industry?
The chicken business was influenced by McDonald’s because the McNugget was a huge
success which in hand caused a much higher demand for chicken. This changed
everything that was set before in the chicken industry.
What are the conditions or terms of business under which most poultry farmers
The conditions or terms of business under which most poultry farmers operate is that they
do not own the chickens, but are still responsible for feeding them and keeping them
How does the nutritional value of a McNugget compare with that of a hamburger?
A McNugget has twice the fat of the hamburger and it is overall less healthy than the
standard McDonalds hamburger.
Why would small independent cattle ranchers be afraid to speak out against the
practices of large meat processors?
Small independent cattle ranchers would be afraid of large meat processors because the
large meat processors control them and can deny them the money for their cattle, leaving
no business and no money for the rancher.
Which type of cattle rancher is currently facing the greatest economic difficulty?
The cattle rancher that is solely sedpendent on their cattle for income is currently facing
the greatest economic difficulty. These ranchers typically work off their own land and
have a few hundred cattle, and have no other source of income.
How does the suicide rate for ranchers and farmers compare with the rate for U.S.
citizens in general?
The suicide rate for ranchers and framers is three times higher than that of the US citizens
in general rate.
Chapter 7, "Cogs in the Great Machine"
What changes did IBP introduce to the meat packing industry?
IBP introduced many changes, predominately by activating the “Speedee Service” idea
and applying it to the production of beef. Butchers were no longer employed and all
meat was pre-cut as the business became an assembly line.
Why were newer meat packing plants located in rural areas rather than in cities?
Newer meatpacking plants were located in rural areas because these areas are far from the
unions that typically focus in the cities.
What were the links between IBP and organized crime?
The links between IBP and organized crime are clear through the many convictions and
bribes uncovered from the high management.
What has been the relationship between labor unions and modern meat packing
The plants in this relationship do everything possible in their power to keep from letting
the workers unionize. To make sure of this, they go as far as firing particular employees
and hiring illegal aliens to be sure they don’t join unions.
How do wages in meat packing plants today compare with wages in the early
1900s, after the workers became unionized?
Wages in the meat packing plants today are considerably less than those in the early
1900’s. This occurred through the act of hiring cheap, unskilled labor for work, and they
now make sure that none of the workers would join the unions.
How high is the employee turnover rate in the meat packing industry and why
don't the meat packing plants see this as a problem?
The turnover is enormous although unseen as a problem. This is because multiple jobs
need to be filled multiple times a year and in turn saves the company money because they
don’t have to pay vacation time or insurance.
Where do meat packing companies go to recruit new employees?
To recruit new employees, meatpacking companies more often than not go to places near
the border of Mexico. They go specifically looking for illegal immigrants to provide
What is the impact on small communities of having a meat packing firm?
Small communities are usually hurt by meatpacking firms. The meat packing factories
usually bring crime and violence with them.
Chapter 8, "The Most Dangerous Job"
How does the injury rate in meat packing compare with the injury rate in other
The injury rate in meatpacking is three times higher than in any other occupation.
What kinds of injuries do workers in meatpacking plants typically suffer?
Meatpackers usually suffer injuries such as cuts and stab wounds due to making about
10,000 cuts each shift.
What the impact on workers of speeding up the line in meatpacking plants?
When the ‘line’ is sped up in meat packing plants usually more injuries occur as the
workers are rushed to speed up their already hurried work.
Why don't more workers complain about safety conditions in the plants?
More workers don’t complain because they often will get fired for complaining at all.
What role do supervisors play in the reporting of workplace injuries in meat
Supervisors play little or no role in reporting workplace injuries because they are
rewarded for having low injury rates, encouraging them not to report injuries that may
What does the author describe as the most dangerous type of work in these plants
and what kinds of injuries do these workers risk?
Schlosser claims that the nation’s worst and most dangerous job is that of those at the
meat-processing plants who clean the plant and prepare it for the next day. These
workers work with chemicals that are very dangerous and cause a fog, making vision
nearly impossible. This leads to many accidents where the workers do not see each other
or where they are going and they can easily lose limbs.
What has been the impact of allowing plants to maintain their own injury logs?
The impact is that the supervisors have the ability to lie and change the true amount of
injuries and report a false number.
How has the authority of OSHA changed over time?
The authority of the OSHA has overall diminished over time, greatly due to the many
factories control over it.
What does the author think about claims that meatpacking plants have a great deal
of concern about the health and well being of their workers?
The author thinks that these claims are false and the meatpacking plants have very little
concern for the health and well being of their workers. He backs this up by stating the
many times that the injuries of the workers at plants have gone unrecorded.
From a worker's point of view, what are some of the problems with Colorado's
workers' compensation law?
From a worker’s point of view the law is extremely difficult to attain. The law is so hard
to attain it is almost not worth the long wait to get the compensation.
Chapter 9, "What's in the Meat"
Compared with several decades ago, how common are food-related illnesses
Food related illnesses today are immensely more common compared to several decades
ago. Around 200,000 cases of food poisoning occur each year. Of those 200,000, about
How has the centralization of food production influenced the spread of food-
The centralization of food production has influenced the spread of food related illnesses
because all of our food is made in broadened groups. Therefore, if one disease or
bacteria got into a certain food, this illness causing thing would have no problem
infecting many other foods in today’s centralized food processing plants.
What authority does the U.S. Government have to demand the recall of tainted
Because many congressmen and meatpackers have under the table deals and agreements,
the ability of the US government to demand the recall of tainted meat is very minimal.
The meatpacking industry has fought to keep the government as separated as possible
from their industry.
What are most of the microbes in meat spread by?
Most of the microbes in meat are spread by a substance known as fecal material.
What was the first national hamburger chain & what did it do to try to change the
image of the hamburger?
The first national hamburger chain was White Castle, and it tried to change the image of
the hamburger into a clean, safe, healthy eating staple. White Castle tried this by placing
grills out in the open in their restaurants so that the customers could see the employees
What are the effects of E. coli 0157:H7 on the human body?
E. Coli 0157:H7 essentially attacks and/or destroys the lining of the stomach. This
horrible effect leads to many symptoms and problems, most notably abdominal cramps,
bloody stools, fever, and diarrhea.
What are some of the ways people can be infected with E. coli 0157:H7?
People can be infected with E. Coli 0157:H7 through many different ways. It is mainly
contracted through contaminated water or foods, you can also get it from undercooked
beef, drinking contaminated water, eating salami, or even eating been sprouts.
What kinds of things are fed to cattle, things that might facilitate the spread of
Things such as dead cats, cattle, sheep, and dogs, or even some waste products from
plants could possibly facilitate the spread of pathogens are.
How does the risk of contamination for ground beef compare with the risk of
contamination of whole cuts of beef?
There is a higher risk of contamination from ground beef, hamburgers, than in whole cuts
of beef. This comes form the fact that sometimes ground beef burgers can contain the
meat from 100 different cows.
Why is the author concerned about the use of older dairy cattle to make ground
The author is concerned because as cattle grow older they grow more likely to carry
pathogens. This creates an even bigger chance of pathogens being in ground beef if older
dairy cattle were to be used.
How has the meatpacking industry generally responded to health concerns about
the nation's beef?
The meatpacking industry has generally responded negatively to health concerns about its
meat. To this day they continue to deny any sort of responsibility and continue to claim
there is no need for health concerns.
What was the Streamlined Inspection System launched by the USDA?
The Streamlined Inspection System was an attempt to maximize the inspection process
through which the meat plants had the ability to inspect their own meat as opposed to an
How did the Jack in the Box restaurant chain respond to its outbreak of
The Jack in the Box restaurant chain responded by actually having a rude and needed
new outlook on food safety. It became the first of all the other major fast food chains to
begin to buy meat only from the two meat processing plants that were considered to be
What criticisms does the author have of the current recall system for tainted meat?
Eric Schlosser criticizes the current recall system for tainted meat because the
government cannot exercise any control or make any recall on their own. The companies
have no obligation to inform the public of a recall, essentially keeping the public out of
the know and possibly putting them in danger.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of irradiating meat?
The advantage of irradiating meat is the process kills off the bacteria in the meat, but
there are also some disadvantages. One disadvantage to the process is that the companies
could potentially ignore sanitation ignorantly believing that the irradiating ability will
leave no chance of infection.
What kind of meat is selected for consumption in public schools?
The meat that is selected and bought for public schools is the more commonly found and
Chapter 10, "Global Realization"
Why did the author visit Plauen, Germany?
The author visited Plauen because he thought it was a very fascinating place. It was a
mesh of old quiet town features and the marks of the great reforms of the 20th century
In a discussion of fast food corporations why is it important to talk about their
It is important to talk about the oversees operations of fast food corporations because
that’s where a greater majority of their profit is coming from nowadays. These oversees
operations are also hints into the ever greater Americanization of the rest of the world.
In foreign countries, what group does most fast food advertising target?
The same as in America the main target for fast food advertising is children. The same
advertisers have found the same results in other countries, that children are more
impressionable and easier to manipulate.
In what ways might there be a connection between the obesity rate in America
and the fast food industry?
In many ways can a connection between the obesity rate in America and the fast food
industry be made. Fast food is generally more fattening than other foods and has become
integrated into American lifestyle. Americans can get fast food cheap and it folds into
the fast moving pace of Americans very effectively.
Why is obesity a problem for American society as a whole?
Obesity is a problem for American society because obesity can lead to many health
problems. Obesity can lead to serious problems such as diabetes, breast cancer, heart
disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.
What kind of business is the most frequent target of anti-American protests in
foreign countries and what kinds of groups engage in these protests?
The fast food business is more frequently targeted by anti-American protests. These
businesses, such as McDonalds, are attacked because of their correlation with American
What did London Greenpeace do to protest McDonald's and what was
London Greenpeace distributed a six-page pamphlet in 1986, “What’s Wrong with
McDonald’s? Everything they don’t want you to know.” This pamphlet accused
McDonald’s and attacked it for supposedly encouraging Third World poverty, exploiting
workers, selling unhealthy food, and more. In response, in 1990, McDonald’s sued five
members of the group for libel, and claimed the pamphlet contained entirely false
information. McDonald’s won the suit but the two later won an appeal.
Epilogue, "Have It Your Way"
In what ways are restaurants like Conway's Red Top and In-N-Out different from
McDonald's and most other fast food chains?
Conway’s Red Top and In-N-Out are different than McDonalds because they are more
localized, family owned businesses. Their food is fresher, better-prepared, and comes
from more trustworthy sources.
What does the author think should be done about advertising unhealthy foods to
Eric Schlosser believes that Congress should ban all advertisements of foods high in fat
and sugar that are aimed at children. He argues that this, like the decline in smoking ads,
will allow for a less obese society, especially in children.
What does the author say about the safety of the U.S. food supply compared with
that of other countries?
The author, Schlosser, says the US claims to have the safest food supply are false and that
the evidence shows otherwise. He adds that other countries have tougher food safety
laws and more thorough food inspection systems.
What does the author think Congress should do about food safety and about
working conditions in meatpacking companies?
The author thinks that Congress needs to create a single food safety agency that has
enough authority to protect public health. Schlosser believes that tightening food safety
laws would in the end make American meat safer and make fast food better for us.
What can consumers do to change food safety and working conditions in the fast
The easiest thing consumers can do to get things changed is to stop eating. Stop eating
out at McDonalds and if enough people get the message across to the heads of
McDonalds you will have change.