As a working mom with two kids, I know it can be difficult to find enough hours in the day. For most of us working parents, we barely have time to figure out what to serve for dinner, let alone to do extensive research on the safety of it.
That’s why I’m here to help! No matter how busy I get, I still am responsible for the health of my family. As I learn about more ways to protect their well-being, I will be sharing them here, to help with yours too!
Last week, my family had one of those busy weeks where you barely even have time to get to the store. I don’t often feed my kids fast food, but after a day of work, practices, rehearsals, and driving around town, I decided to treat them to their favorite drive-thru meal. What happened next has me very concerned about the state of fried food in restaurants.
We pulled through the drive-thru, and my daughter and I ordered burgers. My son ordered a fried chicken sandwich, his favorite. I let them dig in as I drove us home. Next thing I hear from the back seat: “Ew, Mom! They gave me fish!”
At this point, I really just wanted to get back to the house. But I know my son, and I know he hates fish. He wasn’t going to eat it. So I turned the car around and headed back to the restaurant. I walked our bag of food back inside and asked to speak to someone. But, when they unwrapped my son’s sandwich, there it was…chicken. They looked at me like I was crazy! So I took a bite of it right there in front of them. My son was right…it definitely had a fishy flavor. The woman said they didn’t know what happened, and apologized. She offered me a new chicken sandwich, but I was a little weirded out. I asked if she could just replace it with a burger for my son instead.
After the kids went to bed that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How could chicken end up tasting so much like fish? I know fast food places often use the same fryer to fry multiple menu items. But I would imagine that if cross-contamination was an issue, we would be hearing about it more often. I started searching on the internet and was shocked at what I found. The fryer issue isn’t just an issue with crossing flavors. According to the research I read, fryer misuse (which is most likely what caused my son’s chicken to taste like fish) could actually be cancer-causing.
Apparently, when restaurants don’t change the oil in their fryer often enough, the oil degrades. Little bits of food fall off into the oil during cooking, and those particles of food sit in the fryer. They continue to get fried over and over again with each use. They char, which causes the same problems as when food becomes too charred on a grill. Have you ever heard that charring meat can create carcinogens? This is just like that. But every single time the oil is used, those little particles containing carcinogens can get stuck to other people’s food. This is appalling! You would think there would be some sort of system in place to force them to change the oil and keep this from happening.
But, the US has no regulations or rules for restaurants about this. The EU is already on top of it – they have laws in place for restaurants using fryers that require them to filter or change them regularly. We need testing here too! Restaurants must be required to throw out the oil before it becomes toxic.
I’m sharing this information not to scare you, but to help other working moms keep their kids safe. If the US government won’t get involved, we need to personally pressure our local restaurants and chains to do the right thing and regulate their oil. I don’t want to have to stop eating fried food all together! Next time you’re out, make sure to ask the manager about the kitchen’s oil practices. We need to make them understand that this is important to the customer. Mom’s don’t mess around!
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