We are planning on meeting friends for lunch as we cross paths on I-5 (a north-south interstate highway). Bad Dad is fond of In-N-Out burgers and talks it up with Iris like In-N-Out is a road-trip treat.
I don't like to eat commodity beef hamburgers, but In-N-Out fills me with special alarm.
For the last time, let's eat anywhere than there!
Most people know In-N-Out by the great PR it received in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, originally published in 2001. Schlosser said that the only fast food burger he ate was from a southern California chain, In-N-Out, that took a bit more care with their people and sourcing their beef. After that, In-N-Out got a reputation as the ethical burger.
However, the internal struggle within In-N-Out between the camps that wanted to quickly expand nationally and those that believed that it was not possible to expand more quickly than they could line up high quality beef suppliers flew under most people's radar.
In 2006, the executive that cautioned against a fast national expansion won the lawsuit, but lost the battle. Esther Snyder, the founding matriarch, also died in 2006. A very young granddaughter and quick buck thinkers on the In-N-Out board took control. I followed the story in the local papers because of both the public safety and the human interest angle. (For the record, I think it is dreadful to declare your ailing grandmother mentally incapacitated in order to wrest control of the company a few months faster.)
In 2008, an undercover worker for the Humane Society infiltrated a Chino, CA slaughterhouse and filmed downer cows being slaughtered and sold for food. That led to the largest beef recall in US history. Buyers from that plant included fast food chains Jack in the Box and In-N-Out along with the US school lunch program. Most of the other fast food chains kept closer tabs on their supply chain after that incident and have mostly kept out of trouble and the headlines over food safety.
In 2012, another California slaughterhouse was caught selling downer cows for food. Not only was In-N-Out caught up in another downer cow scandal, they are the only fast food chain caught .AGAIN. Central Valley Meat's (CVM) only customers were In-N-Out and the US school lunch program. In fact, CVM supplied 20-30% of the beef served at In-N-Out.
For the record, I also think it is dreadful to (repeatedly) serve downer cows in order to make a quick buck. I also don't understand why our nation serves the cheapest and lowest quality food in school lunches.
So this is why, if you ask me to meet you for lunch at In-N-Out, I will suggest another place. And that is also why I tell my kid not to eat hamburgers at school.