Dr Jacob George is president and legal adviser to the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa)


Do you know that if within 8 minutes the fries are not served they must dump it?

At some fast foods it is just 7 minutes.

Cold fries should not be served! But they are being served.

Do you know that if the burgers have gone cold or the chicken hard it should be replaced?

Or the bun containing the meats if they are not ‘fresh!’

But no as I found out recently walking into both the KFC and McDonalds outlets on receipt of feedbacks and complains from irritated consumers on the same matter and observation!

Dining or purchasing McDonald burgers and KFC is certainly not cheap neither is the portions so large here in Malaysia!

Are the really value for money? Nay!

And KFC and McDonalds are not doing national service – ‘kebajikan’ (handouts) Malaysian consumers are paying for the food and it is expensive!

In addition to the cost factor – We will have to also tolerate counter staff who seem to be untrained or having bad communicational skills as I found out!

But in Malaysia like others abroad – It is a billion dollar industry!

It has grown so big throughout the world that there are many issues arising.

But who is trouble shooting, who is monitoring quality and standards and who is addressing dress code and attire and presentation and the nine full yards of other issues?

Yes – fast food success has drawn much attention to the industry and the food itself.

I am not an animal rights advocate and neither a health buff (I love food –ale Penang boy Maa!) but from a health standpoint and as a consumer advocate I cannot but criticize fast food on its effect on the health of its consumers and the health of the globe. Not only is fast food proven to be bad for the health because of its high fat content and the probable health hazards fast food chains are prone to, but also its effect on employment and agricultural concerns.

Let us look at some basic issues real basic!

1. Fast food affinity is equated with bad eating habits. A typical meal from a fast food restaurant, say a serving of fries and a cheeseburger, amount to about 1,000 calories. This is about half of the recommended dietary allowance. This is mainly because of the large portions that fast foods are accustomed to serving. The tendency is for people to enlarge their appetites by eating beyond their limit, because of being afraid for the food to go to waste.

2. Fast food is everywhere. It is available from main commercial blocks, in housing estates, hypermarkets, on highways to gas service stations. In short, it is available and accessible. This partnered with the biological propensity towards food high in fat and sugar, leads to widespread obesity.

3. Interestingly and for the record do you know that a particular man filed a lawsuit in the United States (yes only in the land of the Eagle!) against four fast food chains because, according to him, the fast foods’ greasy and salty food led him to being obese and unhealthy. Magnifying this issue, a documentary titled “Super size me” was created. This showed the life of a man who dined on fast food for an entire month. The result was tens of pounds gained.

4. Ultimately, dining regularly or almost totally on fast food will pose serious risks to one’s health. But it cannot be totally blamed for health problems. Mainly because it still rests on the person’s choice. There are plenty of fast food diners in perfect shape. The key is in moderation and smart choice.

5. Another issue in the fast food industry is the health hazards that fast food chains are prone to. A particular hazard is the E-coli bacteria that meat products are susceptible to. Because of the long supply chain through which fast food chains operate in, the handling and sourcing of the meat is very hard to monitor. This issue remains unsolved. We will work closely with MOH (above left) to facilitate audits and checks.

6. Employment issues are also abundant in the fast food industry. Mainly because working in a fast food does not require a college diploma or reasonable career experience, fast foods employ teenagers as part-time crew and unskilled adults that accept low pay. There are widespread allegations that workers were forced to work longer hours without pay.

7. The agriculture industry also suffers because of fast food chains. It has led to mass slaughters of cattle. Because fast food chains require so much meat and poultry, their demand leads them to make deals with large slaughter corporations. These deals and practices crowd out smaller businesses.

8. Fast food domination has several implications both for the health of individuals and for the health of the entire globe. Ultimately, people can exercise their power of choice responsibly. Be more conscious with what they eat and where their food came from. This is the starting point for a healthier lifestyle.

9. In this regard I am pleased with the Food and Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Health for working closely with me that the rights and interests of Malaysian consumers are not compromised. They are doing a good job – kudos to them!

10. I am also pleased that the Director General of Health Services Dr Ismail Merican is also concerned about lifestyle diseases and wants a nation wide concretization program for Malaysian consumers on good healthy eating habits and culture!

11. CASSA fully supports him and the MOH on this!

In view of what I found out at both these outlets – I am calling a boycott of both KFC and McDonalds for the next 100 days!

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