Fast-Food Shake-up

Beleaguered chains improve nutrition, environmental impact and job quality


Faster than you can say “cheeseburger, fries and a Coke,” the fast-food industry built itself into a fixture on the American scene. But almost from the start, the industry's phenomenal rise was accompanied by hefty servings of criticism. Nutritionists attacked the greasy, high-calorie menus, environmentalists blasted the high consumption of disposable packaging and career counselors scorned the monotonous, low-paying jobs. Now the industry is taking major steps to satisfy critics. It is offering more nutritionally balanced menus, reducing packaging waste and improving benefits to retain workers longer. The motivation goes beyond good citizenship — fast food is a fiercely competitive business driven by powerful consumer demands.

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