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    19 Wild And Disturbing Secrets About The Food Industry, Straight From The Workers Themselves

    "Grocery distribution warehouses are often extremely filthy and rarely cleaned. Wash anything canned, bottled, or jarred!!! They're filthy as hell, covered in microplastics, rotten food, mouse pee, bird poop, etc."

    Recently, Redditor u/Miserable_Papaya1814 asked, "What dark facts do you know about food industry?" Former and current food service industry workers shared the dark secrets about their jobs that people typically don't know, and welp, I now have trust issues. Here are the wild results:

    1. "Worst thing I participated in as kitchen staff in a rather top-flight restaurant was on a slow summer Sunday afternoon. The boss sent us down to the walk-in meat coolers to spray paint the rusted walls. We were instructed to not remove the contents of the cooler first; rather, just shift the meat from one side of the cooler to the other — the coat of silver spray paint will come off during cooking."


    packaged meat in the frozen section

    2. "The deep fryer grease is long overdue for a change, but it’s expensive to do so nightly."


    large baskets off fries in vats of oil

    3. "The amount of waste thrown away every single day by grocery stores. I worked in the meat department of a decently sized grocery store, and the waste there was nauseating. I kid you not, we would throw away an industrial-sized garbage bin worth of meat, fish, and poultry every single day. The expiration dates dictated everything, which is obviously a sensible policy to have, but they wouldn't do anything about it. They wouldn't donate it, let employees take it home, or make adjustments to the orders so we wouldn't have to throw so much away."

    "The reasoning was always 'better have too much than not enough,' which I guess makes a little sense, but when I am throwing away dozens of pounds of tenderloins, center-cut fish, and shellfish per night, it's too much. Mind you, this is one department of one grocery store."


    overflowing dumpsters

    4. "I worked in the bakery section of a very popular grocery chain when I was younger. The bakery was connected to the deli, and every night, we threw away ridiculous amounts of perfectly good food. Most of it got bagged up and some were thrown away before the expiration date."

    "If I recall correctly, they'd lock the dumpsters at night, which was especially sad because I worked in a rougher part of town with a homeless population that could have really used that food."


    display of baked goods

    5. "Grocery distribution warehouses are often extremely filthy and rarely cleaned. Wash anything canned, bottled, or jarred!!! They're filthy as hell, covered in microplastics, rotten food, mouse pee, bird poop, etc. I used to do maintenance on conveyor systems for a major US chain, and they just send items flying down the conveyors so fast, it's fairly common for glass to shatter because of the vibrations, food to fall off, etc. I saw bats, birds, and mice in that facility, but it was within the tolerance of their health policy."

    "Also, I saw people that were sick sneezing and coughing on products. Never saw a floor scrubber go through the warehouse during the entire three months I worked there, and I was doing alternating double shifts! The only time I saw a broom was if there was shattered glass."


    hands examining a jar of sauce

    6. "I got let go after a short stint working in a grocery store's packing warehouse because I kept reporting bird and mouse poop I found on products. I asked a bloke who worked there why I was let go, and yeah, it was because I was too much trouble for management. Suited me just fine."


    people in a kitchen wearing masks and hair coverings

    7. "I'm a former cook. One place I worked had 'from farm to table' key lime pies, which just were frozen pies from a wholesale distributor with a few blueberries/strawberries and a few dabs of whipped cream put on top. The 'fresh fish tacos' were frozen pre-battered products from the distributor, too."

    "Don’t get me wrong. Both of these were delicious, but at $8 a slice and 20 dollars a meal, I would rather just buy a big box or even start a collective of sorts."


    slice of pie with whipped cream

    8. "My restaurant says we’re a 'from scratch' kitchen and recycle corks/crayons/menus. We don’t recycle, and our mashed potatoes are boiled in the plastic bag we get them in."


    plate of fancy mashed potatoes

    9. "I worked in a chain restaurant and transferred from a great one to one barely keeping the doors open for health reasons. Night and day difference. When I pointed out that some meat in the walk-in was rotten, a manager still wanted me to cook and serve it. He reluctantly yielded and agreed to chuck it. Such poor management."


    hand seasoning a raw slab of meat

    10. "All the chain places I've worked at had much stricter cleaning regimens and regulations than the fancy smaller restaurants. All the heinous things I saw were at farm-to-table places. The farm-to-tables I've worked at were legit about their ingredients, but their cleanliness was awful. Must have had a deal with the health inspectors or something."


    empty wine glasses with the table settings in a restaurant

    11. "Worked in a pepperoni factory 20+ years ago as an accountant. Found that the more MSP in the bill of materials, the lower the quality and the cheaper the product. Looking at the stuff, it looked kind of like an old square crumbly eraser if you remember those. So, I asked what MSP was. It's 'mechanically separated pork.' When I asked what that means, they told me that after all the good meat is cut off of a pig, a power washer is used to blast the remaining flesh off the carcass. That's scooped up, dried out, and packaged as MSP."

    "Enjoy your next cheap pepperoni pizza."


    half of a pepperoni pizza

    12. "I've worked in food manufacturing for 15 years. I don't mess with sandwich meat, regular hotdogs, and non-pork bacon, they pretty much 'trim' the moldy parts and throw the 'rest' in the grinder."


    hot dog with ketchup and onions

    13. "I used to work with health inspectors. When describing what they do I say that they’re the people who go into restaurants and say, 'We’re shutting you down. There are too many cockroaches in the soup.' About one person in 10 notices that it’s too many cockroaches."


    bowl of soup and corn bread

    14. "My first job was at locally owned Italian restaurant. The current owner was the son of the original owners, and the restaurant is still alive and kicking 25 years after I worked there. With that being said, the owner regularly hot boxed in the freezer, especially when he was doing inventory."


    closed door to the freezer walk in

    15. "I worked at a café over a pub for a few months, and we shared the kitchen. It was so gross. Everything was covered in dirt, and there was an absolutely deadly section of the floor by the stairs that was always covered in a pool of grease."


    dirty pile of kitchen pans and pots

    16. "I worked BOH (Back of House) in salad and soup prep at a pizzeria restaurant chain. I saw tons of trays of veggies accidentally dropped on the floor, walked over and picked back up with nary a rinse. The chili stays in the pot for days on end and they just add more water and beans.


    hand lifting up a slice of pizza

    17. "I used to work for a big American Chinese food chain. The brown rice is actually soy sauce mixed into white rice instead of actual brown rice."


    plate of vegetable rice

    18. "I spent a very brief time on dishwasher duty at a very popular seafood restaurant in our town. They served a lot of crabmeat au gratin in those small oval bowls. I couldn’t get that hard cheese ring off the inside of the bowl, so I asked the manager what the trick was. He said, 'Just wash it.' Those rings of hard cheese don’t come off and have been on there since we bought them."


    small baked dish

    And finally...

    19. "I’ve been in hundreds of kitchens and I can say (generally) the super popular local favorite places to eat are disgusting. The buildings are falling apart. The food is outdated. The walls, ceilings, and floors are alive with all kinds of bugs and rodents. Hopefully, this is just my area and not widespread throughout the country..."


    top view of a dinner table full of drinks and plates

    Whew. If you've worked in the food industry, what are some other "dark secrets" people should know? Let us know in the comments below.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.