Tue May 30, 2017 6:25PM
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The fast food industry is a huge money making machine: people on the go want food on the go. And with that comes some negative consequences: some obvious, like the health hazards. Others worth mentioning, which have been persistent, are issues like child exploitation of children and worker abuse.

In this edition of Economic Divide, we'll look at the controversies surrounding the fast food industry, especially giants like McDonalds, KFC and Subway, and why they have been accused of environmental damage, controversial farm practices, and undermining workers rights especially when it comes to minimum wage, while the corporate bosses make millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses.

The 1950’s saw the birth of the nuclear family. The standard ideology was 2.4 children, with the father working 9 to 5, whilst the mother stayed at home. Food was a family occasion in which mother lovingly prepared using the freshest of ingredients on a daily basis. However, that all changed with the birth of the TV dinner, which was not only practical and easy, but a huge moneymaker for the economy.

Today, the TV dinner has expanded to incorporate take-a-way’s and fast food restaurants, and the sums of money involved are in the billions. In the developed world where the modern family finds itself economically tied down to bills, mortgages, bank loans, credit cards and school fees, the dynamics of the family have changed to follow this, with the woman now forced into work to provide a second income. This has hence created the need for the fast food industry and ready meal market to boom.

Today, a look anywhere around the world, from big cities to small towns, there is a fast food restaurant available. With this huge expansion of chains of restaurants, the amount of money being spent was mind boggling, and the advertising behind the chains was so successful, 5 year old children in the UK where able to identify the ‘M’ logo of McDonalds, ahead of their own name.

This rapid expansion and growth saw the UK and the US populations eating out more times per week than they were eating at home, a notion that would not have been possible in the 50’s. But when we study the figures behind this, we see why: The United Sates sees an annual spending on fast food in the region of $209 Billion. This is growing at a rate of 1.4% per year. According to the Statistica website, globally, McDonalds, (perhaps the most well known chain with 92% of Americans aware of the brand) has an annual revenue from food sales alone of about $90 Billion.