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Saturday, March 18, 2017

If you must eat fast food, don't be fooled by such words as premium, supreme, best

At the Grover Cleveland Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike, concessionaire ReFresh & Co. seems to suggest the "premium" meat served there is a cut above the rest, but never actually says it was raised naturally. So, you can assume the beef and chicken were raised on harmful human antibiotics, and the hot dogs were cured and contain nitrates as a preservative.
The I-95 Burger and an Angus Beef Footlong are two of the items available. ReFresh & Co. also operates pizza and salad stands.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Meaningless phrases like "premium cuts" is the best some fast-food restaurants can do to mask the low quality of the beef and poultry they serve.

At the Grover Cleveland Service Area -- which boasts the New Jersey Turnpike's first new food-service building in many years -- travelers can choose among Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, ReFresh & Co. and Starbucks Coffee.

Starbucks is the only one where you can find food that is organic or naturally raised or grown. We ordered coffee, and I had a Yogurt Parfait with granola and fresh fruit ($4.80).

We stopped there last Saturday on the way home from a trip to Willow Grove, Pa.

Why worry?

Why should you be concerned whether the fast-food meat and poultry you buy came from an industrial farm?

"Many factory farms use and abuse antibiotics," according to Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports magazine.

"Here is why this is so dangerous: 70 percent of the most important antibiotics -- the ones we need to survive deadly illnesses -- are used on animals instead of people in the U.S.

"Overusing antibiotics accelerates the process of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people die each year from antibiotic-resistant superbugs."

Fried chicken

And when we got back to Hackensack, my wife wanted to try Chicken Supreme on River Street, where she ordered a special of 8 thighs and drumsticks for $8.99 and a large coleslaw for $2.99.

With most meals at Chicken Supreme, you pay about $1.50 per piece -- pricey considering the poultry is nothing special.

Back in 1976, a Greek immigrant bought a fried-chicken restaurant in Paterson called Chicken Unlimited, and changed the name to Chicken Supreme.

Now, without providing any evidence, the company website declares the fried chicken sold at the Paterson and Hackensack restaurants is "the best in New Jersey."

There is no information on whether the chicken was raised with harmful human antibiotics, so you have to assume the worst.

Appeal to KFC

Consumers Union has appealed to KFC restaurants to stop serving fried chicken raised with antibiotics.

"Many fast-food chains have already committed to sourcing antibiotic-free meat. Not KFC.

"If this practice continues, antibiotics will become less and less reliable for saving human lives -- until we face a full-blown epidemiological health crisis."

You can sign a petition to KFC here.


The new food-service building at the Grover Cleveland Service Area in Woodbridge replaced one that was damaged beyond repair by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. The service area is between turnpike Exits 11 and 12 in the northbound lanes.
New Jersey hoodies are for sale in the gift shop.
The Starbucks franchise is operated by HMS Host, a highway and airport food-service company that is a subsidiary of Italy's Autogrill.
Two features I haven't seen at older food-service buildings on the New Jersey Turnpike are touch-screen ordering, above, and a family bathroom, in addition to separate men's and women's restrooms, below.
In Hackensack, the Chicken Supreme restaurant is at 366 River St.
The booths offer a view of traffic-choked River Street, but the parking lot behind the restaurant is on a scenic stretch of the Hackensack River.