The fast food industry has experienced massive growth over the last one decade. Health experts have linked foods offered in this industry to the increasing lifestyle diseases. They argue that the industry subjects people to junk foods, causing serious health concerns in the society. Some members of the society have also associated fast food industry with a lot of social evils that make them believe that the industry should be strictly regulated through government policies. However, it is unfair to associate all the lifestyle diseases such as coronary complications and diabetes to the industry. Every type of food has its negative effects when it is consumed in large quantities. What needs to be done is to increase awareness campaigns about dangers of overconsumption of some types of food.
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The role played by this industry is so vital that it would be unreasonable to propose punitive regulatory policies against it. There are those who depend a lot on this industry. Some people believe that they get maximum variety of foods they need from the fast food stores. A standard McDonald’s store will have a variety of meals to choose from, making them very popular with the youth. This industry is also known for its innovative nature. We need to promote healthy eating among members of the society. When we visit fast food stores, we should ask for healthy foods that do not pose any health risks to us. It would be okay to take some of the delicacies such as fried chicken once in a while, but it should not form the basic dish in the daily menu.
Fast food industry has experienced a massive growth over the last two decades in various countries across the world. McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza are some of the leading fast food restaurants that have managed to expand their operations beyond their local market. However, there has been a raging debate about the benefits and negative consequences of this industry. The controversy has been on the health consequences of the industry against some of the benefits it offers. While a section of the society believes that this industry is very beneficial, especially to those who have limited time to prepare their own meals, another section has been complaining about some of the negative health consequences and financial impact this industry has on people.
The arguments against fast food industry are just as strong as the argument for it. It is important to analyze specific facts that are put forth by the group opposed to it, and those who are in support in order to determine the relevance of the industry (Carney 1995, p. 66). Basing our arguments on business ethics, this research will analyze benefits of this industry against the negative consequences it has on people.
In a piece of research, it is always important to be able to manage expectations of the audience in order to improve chances that they will accept the findings of the research. According to Schlosser (2012, p. 25), the society is highly diversified, and when approaching specific issues, people are likely to take sides based on their feelings about the issues. Their feelings will define their expectations. For instance, those who believe that fast food industry is beneficial to them and other members of the society will expect the findings of this research to be in support of their beliefs. On the other hand, those who are opposed to the industry will expect this report to give strong points that will be against the industry.
Each of the two sides has its own reasons why it takes a specific stand on the issue, and this must be respected. However, both sides must appreciate that in research work such as this one, there will be a need to take a stand based on the findings that will be made. The findings will form the basis of evidence that will advice whether the report will support or reject specific point of reasoning.
Different people have different perceptions towards fast food industry. There are those who believe a mention of fast food industry means such delicacies as fried chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, and those other fancy foods that they enjoy taking along the city streets (Cate 2011, p. 69). This group therefore, associates this industry with fun, and it may be difficult to change their perception from this. It may be difficult to convince them that the fun they generate from such food may pose some threats to their health. On the other hand, there are those who believe that this industry is the main reason why countries like Qatar, the United States, and the United Kingdom is spending a lot in the health sector.
These extreme perceptions must be managed so that they can appreciate that in one way or the other, they may be wrong. Before getting into the evaluation of different scholarly opinions, it is strongly suggested that those who have strong beliefs over the issue should take a break and appreciate that they could be wrong. This way, it becomes easy to open a fair ground of debates over the issue.
Fast food industry has been in existence for some time now, and the recent statistics shows that it is expanding at an unprecedented rate. According to Jakle and Sculle (2002, p. 45), fast food stores have outmuscled conventional hotels that was popular before, both in the developing and developed countries. Hotels are currently considered a preserve for the rich, or those on tours. Despite massive campaigns by the medical fraternity and other members of society against fast foods, there have been no indications that people are willing to withdraw from eating such foods. They continue to ignore for reasons they believe are justifiable enough. It would be important to analyze specific reasons that make them support or denounce this industry.
Arguments for the Fast Food Industry
According to Smith (2006, p. 55), fast food industry is one of the fastest developing industries not only in the developed nations but also in the developing world. This scholar argues that for the last one decade, there has been over 70% growth of this industry worldwide. Travelers find it easy to pope into fast food stores, and so do those at work or in a picnic within the city or city suburbs. This research sought to identify specific benefits that people get from this industry, making it one of the most robust industries in many countries around the world. One of the reasons that have been cited as the reason for the growth of this industry is its convenience. In the current economy, most people find themselves working in town settings. As a result of the pressure that employers have on their employees, it becomes difficult for people to find time to rush home for lunch.
In some cases, some of these employees only have one hour or less to get their lunch. Scherer (2010, p. 53) says that ,it is during such breaks that these employees get some little time to address some personal issues, or complete some assignments that they were not able to do, just to ensure that they can beat their deadlines. For this group, what they need most is a convenient location that is near their offices, and can offer foods they need within the shortest time possible.
Such locations are definitely not hotels where they will have to wait for over 45 minutes for their meals to be ready. Fast foods offer a perfect solution to this group. With a list of foods that are always ready such as fried chicken and hamburgers, customers get to be served in less than five minutes. It would take them another five to ten munities to take such meals, and less than two minutes to pay the bill. This means that in less than twenty minutes, one would have taken lunch and would be ready to go back to their work stations (Emerson1979, p. 88). This is one of the main reasons why this industry has experienced tremendous growth.
According to Johansen (2012, p. 87), the friendly prices that fast foods offer must have been the main source of attraction, especially among the middle class people. With the ever increasing cost of living, people are looking for alternatives that would cost them less as compared to other alternatives. Smith (2012, p. 78) says that a meal that costs $ 180 in a standard hotel may probably cost $ 60 or $ 70 in some of the fast food outlets. The middle class is very sensitive about the cost they have to pay for various products. Such a massive difference in price would easily make them be drawn to fast food stores. Given the fact that they have to eat in such outlets for at least five times a week, they easily find it economical to eat at the fast food stores.
A section of the society believes that they get maximum variety of foods they need from the fast food stores. For instance, a standard McDonald’s store will have a variety of meals to choose from, making them very popular with the youth. This industry is also known for its innovative nature. While hotels tend to be conservative by preparing only those meals that are known to their customers, fast food outlets always try to bring something new into their menu. This way, they get to present a variety of meals to their customers. Some of these customers like the experience of having new types of food every time they visit these stores. This makes them anticipate for more new products on every visit they make. This has seen many people, especially the youth, flock in fast food stores.
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The societal structure is changing, and some of the roles that were associated with a specific gender, have to be redefined in an environment where both parents are bread winners. The notion that women were supposed to take care of children and home, while men look for family bread is no longer in existence. Women are currently as active in the corporate world just as their male counterparts. They leave their houses in the morning, and come back in the evening as tired as their husbands. It becomes difficult for them to go to the kitchen and prepare meals for the family. Such families have found their solace in the fast food industry (Rosoman 2008, p. 97).
On their way home from work, they can easily walk into a fast food outlet and buy a complete meal for the entire family. This way, they do not have to subject themselves to a tedious task of preparing meals once they get home. Given the friendly pricing of most of the fast food stores, they find it easy to manage their budget easily, while still ensuring that every family member is pleased with the meals they get. Fast food stores have been viewed as a symbol of diversity that we currently have in our society.
The world has been turned into a global village, and it is easy to find people from various corners of the world staying within a small part of town within this country. Qatar, just like the United States, has been attracting many visitors from all parts of the world. With such diversity comes the need to have food outlets that will offer a variety of food products that would meet the diversified needs. Most of the hotels prefer sticking to specific types of food that are popular within a given region. However, giant fast food stores such McDonald’s will find it easy to prepare a variety of meals as long as there is a ready market for these foods.
This not only make such stores convenient for people, but they also act as forums where members of the society get to appreciate the diversity they have in the country. Such social forums encourage integrations among people of different cultural settings. This makes the industry an integral part of the society whose role goes beyond offering meals, but also fostering peace and unity among people from different cultural backgrounds.
Arguments against the Fast Food Industry
Fast food industry has been viewed as one of the leading health concerns in the current society. Some members of the society have also associated fast food industry with a lot of social evils that make them believe that the industry should be eliminated through government policies. It would be necessary to analyze some of the specific claims that have been made against this industry to determine if they are relevant.
According to Dalgleish (2006, p. 67), most of the foods offered in the fast food industry are associated with a series of health problem. The fast food industry offer junk food that many people prefer simply because of their tastes or the belief that they are cheap. The deep-fried chicken or meat, the hamburgers, and such other related foods are rich in calories. When taken regularly, such calories may accumulate in the body leading to serious health consequences.
Currently, the leading causes of death in the United States are the coronary related problems. Other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are also on the rise. These diseases are directly related to the kind of meals we take, and that is why many health experts have associated them with the fast food outlets. Foods offered in these stores also pose other health problems to the innocent population (Duram 2010, p. 47). As the name suggest, most of the meals at such stores take very a short period of time to be prepared. For example, meat would be fried within the shortest period possible because of the large number of customers that have to be served.
This means that if that particular meat had some infections, then it would be easily consumed by people, a fact that puts their lives into a great danger. The main problem is that the victims do not appreciate that they are subject to some serious health problems that may affect their lifestyle. They know that these risks exist, but prefer to live in denial. This may require some interventions from the government to make the players in this industry comply with some of the standards that should be set by relevant governmental agencies on health.
Fast food industry is one of the strongest forces that lead to distortion of the traditional family structure. According to Hargreave and Hill (2001, p. 95), one of the most important moments in a family is during the meal time. It brings together all members of the family at a table, and this helps strengthen family ties. Members of the family may get to discuss other important matters after meals, and this helps in developing strong foundations for children. This way, children develop as responsible members of the society who appreciates social structures. Parents also get to understand their children, and the specific issues that may be affecting them in one way or the other.
Fast food stores are changing this attractive family structure. Parents now know that they can work till late hours, pass by a fast food outlet and buy food for the entire family. When they reach home late at night, children are always too sleepy to engage in any healthy discussion with their parents. They are forced at eat in a hurry so that they can go to bed. The parents also fail to get quality time for each other. They slowly get withdrawn from each other, and the feeling that they do not need each other starts developing in their minds. The man develops the feeling that he can do without the wife because some of the duties he expected her to address can be taken care of by these outlets. This explains why there is a consistent rise in the rates of divorce (Hayes & Laudan 2009, p. 83).
Most of the fast food stores have been associated with human rights abuse and total disregard to some of the labor laws. According to Torelli (2011, p. 77), the law defines that every American is entitled to work for 7-8 hours in a day. Any other extra hours must be treated as overtime, and such overtime must have higher remunerations. However, a recent study by Aaseng (2001, p. 68) shows that some of these fast food stores are not following this regulation. They subject their employees to poor working environment, and some are forced to be on duty for over 12 hours in a day. While some pretend to pay a little higher for the extra hours worked, most of these stores pay a flat rate even for the overtime that employees are subjected to work. In New York, there have been demonstrations by workers in this industry claiming that their rights are being violated.
In Qatar, things are not any different. Most of the fast food stores prefer employing people as casuals. They would lay them off when they realize that they have worked for them long enough to qualify for permanent employment, only to higher them latter as new employees. According to the report by Pendrys (2011, p. 96), this tactic is very common among the leading firms in this industry. In order to perfect this impunity, they have developed a strategy where their employees are paid per day. This is to confirm that they are treating these employees as casuals whose services are only needed at that moment they are within the firm. As Sacco and Schott (2011, p. 86) observe, poor pay that employees receive from their work is one of the reasons why there is social strife in parts of the society. Such cases as industrial actions have negative impact on the economy.
Some of these employees may even consider engaging in criminal acts to help them increase their income to supplement with what they get from these stores. The increasing numbers of people who visit hospital with lifestyle related diseases have overstretched capacities on most hospitals. This has lowered the quality of service delivered at such institutions.
It is clear from the discussion above that there are people who strongly believe that fast food industry is important in the normal developmental processes in our society. On the other hand, another section believes that fast food industry is associated with health problems and other social evils that make it an undesirable industry. These two factions have very strong reasons that make them believe in their stand. However, a review of both sides’ views reveals that there is some truth in what both sides say. It is a fact that some of the foods offered in the fast food outlets are junk, and therefore, pose serious health problems to the users.
These health problems not only affect the victims but also the government and public in general. When many people fall ill with some complex diseases such as heart problems, the government will be forced to spend a lot to take care of this population. Government expenditure on health sector has been increasing over the last one decade. This is closely related to the foods offered by this industry. As mentioned above, some of these foods pose serious health problems to those who consume them.
The government has the responsibility of ensuring that its citizens get access to quality medical care. Given the increasing number of those who visit hospitals with diseases related to their eating disorders, government facilities are overstretched. This makes it difficult to offer them quality healthcare. In the meantime, the number of people who will be working in the government or private institutions will be decreased. This in turn lowers the output level of the society. Ethically, this may be an unacceptable trend that this society may not tolerate.
On the other hand, it is also true that fast food stores have offered a cheap alternative to the middle class who are struggling to make ends meet. These food outlets are conveniently located along the streets, making it easy for the working class to have access to meals during lunch hours without much struggle. This industry has been very supportive to women who have gotten into the corporate world. They can now get ready meals for their families, lessening the burden of having to prepare meals on their own. In order to find a middle ground between these two contradicting arguments, there is need for a rational reasoning.
Everything when taken in excess has its negative consequences. The society needs awareness campaign to let them know the specific foods to eat in moderation to avoid any negative health consequences. This way, the society will know how to eat responsibly. When the demand for food classified as junk by medical experts reduces, these fast food stores will be forced to stock healthy foods.
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