UK eats 2.5 billion burgers a year Secrets of the Fast Food Giants documentary discovery
In Secrets of the Fast Food Giants, Alexis Conran reveals the history and methods behind some of the world’s most popular fast food dishes and franchises. In this week’s episode, the first of series two, he was on a mission to find out more about the humble burger.
As part of his trip, Alexis visited the headquarters of the successful chain, Honest Burgers, to see how their burgers are made. Instead of being ground, quality beef is ground in a huge machine. This helps give the burger a better taste and texture.
Asked why the beef was so high in fat, Alexis was told that “the fat is the flavor.” All burgers are made centrally and distributed to chains across the country, but only in restaurants are the burgers seasoned to keep the meat as moist as possible. This is because salt absorbs moisture and applying too early can result in a dry burger.
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However, it wasn’t the production methods that floored viewers of the Channel 5 show, it was the amount of burgers we eat in the UK and the dish’s unlikely origins. According to the documentary, the UK fast food industry is worth £15 billion a year, not only that, but in a year the UK consumes an incredible 2.5 billion beef burgers.
This roughly means that the average person eats 37 burgers per year. A study of 2,000 adults also found that 83% of those who eat meat and fish could not “live” without them.
Though those numbers pale in comparison to the United States, where the average American eats 154 burgers a year, or about three a week.
Alexis also alluded to the theory that burgers may have been invented by the Romans in the 4th century. It is not entirely clear how anyone can invent putting meat between two pieces of bread, but some historians nevertheless claim it to be true.
Indeed, a recipe from the ancient Roman cookbook, Apicius, details a dish called “Isicia Omentata” consisting of minced meat, pepper, wine, pine nuts and a rich fish-based sauce called Garum, all formed into a bunless burger.