Technological progress has allowed humanity to make life much easier for itself in many aspects, including nutrition. Such changes are beneficial for society, allowing people to have a richer diet at a lower cost. However, the human diet concept continued to evolve along with the lifestyle, which ultimately led to creating such an idea as fast-food. The main reason for its appearance was the acceleration of human life’s pace in modern society. People often have very little free time since they spend a significant part of the day at work or on the way to it. In this regard, there is a need for food that is quick to prepare and sufficient in energy saturation. Fast-food in this regard fits perfectly into this scheme, being easy to access, inexpensive, served in large portions, and high in energy (Majabadi et al.). However, manufacturers of such food, in an effort to provide customers with more vivid taste sensations and at the same time to reduce the cost of costs, actively resort to various kinds of chemical additives.
Although such components are currently used almost everywhere, one crucial detail is worth mentioning. There is a significant group of food additives that are hazardous to human health, causing, for example, allergic reactions. While buying groceries in a store, the buyer has the opportunity to familiarize himself with the list of ingredients in detail. In the case of purchase fast-food, a person does not have such an opportunity. Consequently, this work’s central thesis is the apparent need to indicate a detailed list of fast-food ingredients since such a policy allows to prevent negative consequences and bring additional benefits to both parties. The work aims to confirm this thesis with the help of a series of arguments and evidence and consider both the buyer and the side of the manufacturer.
Without a doubt, fast-food is an extremely convenient tool for many people. With time constraints, a variety of instant foods – both those served in the respective restaurants and those intended for independent use – are rapidly gaining popularity. These dishes have several essential qualities that make them attractive to young people. Fast-food is quick to prepare, easy to consume and relatively inexpensive (Majabadi et al.). Besides, this food has a high energy value due to its high amount of sugar and carbohydrates. Finally, a crucial factor is the taste characteristics of fast-food, which are the object of increased attention among consumers. Often people get attached to one particular brand precisely because of the taste of a specific product, thereby combining the pleasant with the convenient. While good taste is usually a positive sign in the food industry, it is one of the means of attracting customers in the context of fast-food.
The reason for such an attachment to certain fast-food products is not so much the concept of comfort food but a unique combination of chemical elements. It is to them that people become attached, despite all the assurances of brands who are comfortable with the concept of nostalgic attachment (Schlosser, 129). This dependence leads to the fact that people consume much more food than they need. At the same time, when consuming, it is much more essential to take into account not only the total number of calories that a particular dish has but the detailed composition and balance between various microcomponents.
However, at the moment, people do not have such an opportunity due to the lack of the indicated composition. Simultaneously, for many individuals with specific diseases, accurate knowledge of all components of the dish is critical. For these customers, big names for chemical ingredients are not embarrassing as many manufacturers believe (Schlosser 127). Therefore, first of all, people who have, for example, allergic reactions to certain chemicals are interested in the need the publication of a list of ingredients. Considering that this information’s absence poses a direct threat to such individuals’ life and health, this factor is critical.
Secondly, many of the components used can harm people prone to specific diseases and ordinary people. Studies show that the chemical compounds in junk food that make them so palatable can simultaneously lead to obesity, addiction, diabetes, and insulin resistance (Zagorsky and Smith 1). Consequently, by not disclosing the full list of components due to trade secrets or preserving reputation, corporations put their interest ahead of buyers’ concerns (Schlosser 216). Ultimately, such a policy harms people both directly through an objective and noticeable deterioration in health and indirectly.
Among such indirect effects, the impact of constant consumption of fast-food on people’s psyche should also be noted. Research has shown a clear cross-sectional link between regular fast-food consumption and sugar-sweetened beverages and the development of mental health problems, especially among adolescents (Xu et al. 104). This link is caused by the connection between inflammatory diets, which is the constant consumption of such foods, and the development of depression (Xu et al. 109). Consequently, the disclosure of the list of components and clear publicity of the consequences of fast-food abuse can save the physical and people’s psychological health.
Finally, the last factor is related to the psychological, moral and social side of the issue. At the moment, people consume food without knowing what exactly is in it. This situation is in stark contrast to the entire previous history of humanity. Regardless of the era, society had the right to conscious consumption, in large part because of a much simpler diet. Nevertheless, people knew what they were eating, where this or that product came from. A similar trend should continue in more civilized times when humanity strives for the strict observance of human rights. Thus, on the part of the buyer, the need to disclose the list of ingredients is due to concern for physical and psychological health and the conscientiousness of choice.
Although all the factors described above correspond only to the consumer’s needs and are unnecessary for fast-food manufacturers, they can also benefit from introducing a policy of specifying products’ composition. One of the arguments that corporations are trying to defend against is the words about keeping the brand secret and its reputation. According to similar companies, people associate fast-food with something light and unobtrusive, so if such food is burdened with chemical formulas, it can scare off potential customers (Schlosser 127). However, in recent years, there has been an increase in public attention to healthy food and a healthy lifestyle, which negates this argument. On the contrary, studies show that producers can profit directly from moral considerations and honesty.
The point is that customer satisfaction is made up of many factors, not just convenience and price. It also considers such external factors as the overall design and presentation of dishes, and internal factors, for example, the variety in the menu and the possibility of detailed choice (Namin 78). By providing customers with the opportunity to independently choose the components of dishes based on the presence of specific elements, restaurants will be able to provide services to a wide variety of groups of visitors. Besides, a detailed indication of the available components allows for a high-quality separation of dishes, thereby further differentiating visitors’ flow. Studies show that this policy can achieve high visitor satisfaction levels while maintaining a competitive position in the marketplace (Namin 78). Implementation and combination of this approach together with current trends can give effective results.
The famous American fast-food chain Subway is an excellent example of such a policy. The marketing of this network is built around providing alternative, healthier nutrition for modern people. Subway actively includes vegetables and fruits in the menu, introducing them into the usual fast-food dishes and maintaining their attractiveness and supplementing them with usefulness (Chen 1310). As practice shows, this approach works for the benefit of both the company itself and its clients. The employees of the establishments prepare customized sandwiches following the wishes of the client. Thus, people get exactly what they order, fully aware of their choice.
The Subway example also illustrates how to implement a customization policy for fast-food properly. A detailed indication of the list of ingredients opens up new opportunities for both customers and fast-food producers. Although many establishments use a similar approach, Subway has a critical feature that makes this technique much more effective. Most companies have a minimal list of possible customizations. Besides, the selection mechanics are mostly focused on the cancellation of certain components. This practice leads to a lack of consumer awareness of the product and increases the harmfulness of the food consumed (Besharat 1). On the other hand, the Subway approach utilizes a detailed list of ingredients to be used. Customers with such a policy have the opportunity to visually see the consequences of the inclusion or exclusion of any of the components of the dish. Manufacturers can thus continue the integrity policy described above and bring much more satisfaction to the visitors.
Thus, providing a detailed list of ingredients can benefit the customers and the producers themselves. First of all, this policy is necessary for caring for the health of people. As various studies show, excessive consumption of fast-food can negatively affect people’s physical and mental well-being, causing multiple diseases from obesity to depression. Besides, the lack of a list of ingredients in fast-food deprives people of the right to make conscious food choices. Consequently, the introduction of such an initiative is the observance of several moral norms at once. On the other hand, manufacturers can also benefit from this situation. While listing the components used is associated with additional costs, it allows corporations to pursue more honest and transparent policies, which are currently highly valued in society. The example of some companies, such as Subway, shows that adhering to such principles leads to increased customer satisfaction and increases income and the ability to compete. Thus, this initiative is useful to both parties and deserves detailed consideration, further analysis, and implementation.
Besharat, Ali, et al. “Customizing calories: How Rejecting (vs. Selecting) Ingredients Leads to Lower Calorie Estimation and Unhealthier Food Choices.” Journal of Retailing, 2020, pp. 1-15.
Chen, Kai-Jung, et al. “Integrating Refined Kano Model and QFD for Service Quality Improvement in Healthy Fast-Food Chain Restaurants.” International journal of environmental research and public health, vol. 15, no. 7, 2018, p. 1310.
Majabadi, Hesamedin Askari, et al. “Factors Influencing Fast-Food Consumption Among Adolescents in Tehran: A Qualitative Study.” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal vol. 18, no. 3, 2016, e23890. doi:10.5812/ircmj.23890.
Namin, Aidin. “Revisiting Customers’ Perception of Service Quality in Fast Food Restaurants.” Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, vol. 34, 2017, pp. 70-81.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001.
Zagorsky, Jay L., and Patricia K. Smith. “The Association Between Socioeconomic Status and Adult Fast-Food Consumption in the US.” Economics & Human Biology, vol. 27, 2017, pp. 12-25.
Xu, Honglv, et al. “Interaction Effects of Co-Consumption of Fast Food and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Psychological Symptoms: Evidence from A Nationwide Survey Among Chinese Adolescents.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 276, 2020, pp. 104-111.