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Restaurant Workers Share The 'Dirty Secrets' Of The Food Industry That Might Have You Thinking Twice About Eating Out

Photo: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock
friends dining in a restaurant

Ask anyone who's worked in food service and they'll tell you that the restaurant industry is basically the wild west, and all sorts of things that would never fly in another field are just the order of the day, including some things that might give you pause.

We all tend to assume certain restaurants are just rife with behind-the-scenes goings-on that would make most of us blanch if we knew about them — nobody's expecting five-star cleanliness and culinary standards at a Taco Bell, right? But if you think you're missing out on the weird and gross parts by going to nice places only, think again. 

As Redditors shared, there are all kinds of things going on in the back of the house that would probably make you commit to cooking every night if you knew about them. 

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Restaurant workers exposed the 'dirty secrets' of the food industry in a post on Reddit. 

1. Much of the staff at restaurants are on drugs

If you've spent any amount of time in the restaurant industry, you know this is true. Boozehounds, potheads, and people who like to party gravitate to restaurant work for the flexibility, easy availability of cash, and proximity to fellow party lovers. 

There's another side to this, though: Restaurant work is often so fast-paced and anxiety-inducing that some people need a quick toke in order to even deal with the pressure. As a former server and bartender myself, I can vouch for this — the job really can be overwhelming.

   

   

But for a lot of restaurant workers, it goes far beyond mere marijuana. "Cocaine drives the industry," one Redditor bluntly said. "You take the cocaine away from the prep guy and suddenly the stoners cooking the food are up a creek without a [paddle]."

Nevertheless, ask anyone who's worked in restaurants and they'll tell you these people are kind of the beating heart of the place. As one person put it, "Most restaurants are lawless, godless [messes] staffed and run by alcoholics, addicts and idiots. You'll never have more fun at work or meet more awesome people though. I miss it terribly." Hear, hear! 

2. Health department inspections of restaurants are often a farce

Sorry to break it to you, but most people would be appalled by the condition of the average restaurant kitchen — and a lot of those sterling health department grades hanging in the windows of restaurants are heavily massaged versions of the truth.

"Where I worked, we knew most of the time when the health inspector was turning up," one Redditor wrote. Others mentioned all kinds of ways to suss out when the health inspector was going to show up, including phone trees among restaurant owners alerting each other to the inspector's whereabouts.

   

   

Long story short, most restaurants are never as clean on a regular day as they were on the day the inspector showed, and that's before taking into account the nasty stuff some Redditors claimed escapes inspectors' notice. 

One person said every place they've ever worked had an ice machine full of black mold. Another pointed out that the hoses for fountain soda machines never get cleaned... like, ever. For years.

But nothing quite approaches the level of nasty as a person who described working in a Burger King that routinely left meat and vegetables out in the open for far too long. When the inspector showed up, management told them to quickly throw it all in the garbage.

"The second the health inspector left, they had us go through the [garbage] and salvage all the salad stuff that was binned," they wrote. Eww.

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3. Restaurants really do keep track of regular customers — and they will treat you the way you treat them

Now, before you assume the worst — no, this does not mean they're messing around with your food. Several Redditors chimed in to say that is just an urban legend, especially since the employees often eat what people leave behind on their plates. (Yes, this is gross, but when you're starving and only a third of the way through your shift, you do what you have to do!)

However, several Redditors pointed out that many restaurant software programs nowadays have spaces to write notes about customers. As one Redditor put it, "You will be treated differently depending on how you treat the staff."

Restaurant Workers Share Dirty Secrets Of The Food Industry That Might Have You Thinking Twice About Eating OutPhoto: Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock

This is apparently particularly common at pizza places. "If I knew the person was cool I would hook them up with discounts, or [extra items]" one user wrote. "If they were jerks, it was always 'Whoops, sorry buddy, just ran out!'" 

Feeling pretty proud of the fact that my local pizza joint gives me some extra stuff practically every time I go in. Turns out that being nice to restaurant workers really does pay off. Take that, Karens! 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.