Close Shave: Woman Finds Razor Blade in Burger King Burger

The King is not pleased...

razor blade burger
Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

You’ve heard of extra-sharp cheese, but you’ll have to agree: This is too much.

A 46-year-old California woman ordered a cheeseburger at a local Burger King in the town of Willits, CA, about 140 miles north of San Francisco. Yolanda Orozsco asked for no onions; she probably didn’t think she needed to specify “no razor blade.”

Her aversion to onions may have saved her a trip to the ER. She took a small bite, then lifted the bun to check whether there were, in fact, no onions on the burger. That’s when she says found a razor blade.

“I was in shock. I was just looking at it. Somebody at Burger King was careless,” she tells the local ABC affiliate (when I saw the clip on the website, the sponsor ad was for Bic disposable razors—oops!).

Police were called. Initially, they thought Orozsco was fibbing (hey, it’s been known to happen—slip something unsavory into your salad, then sue the company; this is America after all). But then investigators found razors in the kitchen, close to where the food was prepped. Apparently the razors were used for “cleaning.” (For anyone concerned about what all those Whoppers may be doing to their arteries, the fact that the gunk in the Burger King kitchen requires razor blades to scrape it off is not comforting.)

Anyway, Burger King was quick to respond, pointing out that the restaurant in question was a franchise and not company-owned. “Food safety is a top priority for Burger King restaurant globally,” a corporate spokesman said in a statement, quoted in USA Today. “Burger King Corp.’s strict food handling procedures clearly outline that razor blades are not permitted in or near food preparation areas at any time.”

Really? What is that procedures manual? A 10,000-page document? Because it would seem to take something the size of an old-fashioned phone book to “clearly outline” everything you shouldn’t have “in or near food preparation areas at any time.” What about gasoline, drain cleaner, needles, rodents (caged or uncaged), reptiles (caged or uncaged), marbles, Legos, metal filings or Paula Deen?

In any case, the story is burning its way across the Internet (you’re reading it here, after all), meaning that unless she somehow makes her way into the news again, Yolanda Orozsco’s name will forever be Google-linked to “razor blade” and “Burger King.”

And as you’d expect, there’s the supercilious repugnance and (virtual) theatrical gagging on the part of most commentators and the public, as if tens of millions of us every day don’t thoughtlessly entrust a legion of minimum-wage workers hidden behind the shake machine to make our food for us.

In fact, when you think about the, oh, gazillion fast-food burgers we eat as a nation every year, it’s kind of amazing that this sort of thing doesn’t happen on a daily basis.

And that’s no a rub against fast-food workers. Yes, it would seem time for some snarky comment about who exactly it was at that California Burger King that let slip a razor blade between Yolanda Orozsco’s all-beef patty and cheese. Some stoned burnout smoking away his second year as a high school senior?

If you’d worked at my Burger King, that would have actually been true. (Yes, fun fact: My first job at 15 was hauling fries out of the fryer—I still have a faint burn scar on my forearm to prove it.) A guy name Eric manned the broiler, which in my memory was a rather hellish, somehow medieval-looking beast—infernally hot and given to tortured creaks and groans. He was 17 and favored Megadeath T-shirts in his off hours.

But the recent waves of one-day strikes by fast-food employees in at least eight cities across the country have shined a new spotlight on those oft-derided workers who actually form the backbone of what you might call our national cheapskate economy.

Food preparation and service is the third-largest occupational group in the U.S., behind office/administrative support and sales, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two-thirds of fast-food workers are women, and most are over the age of 30. 

Yet (no surprise), fast-food pay is dismal: Most workers bring in less than $8 an hour. That’s even as profits for many fast-food companies have gone up by double (or even triple) digits during the recession, like McDonald’s (up 130 percent) and Yum! Brands, parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut (up 45 percent).

With that kind of income inequality and injustice, we’re lucky more of us aren’t finding razor blades in our burgers.

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