Are There Ants In Your Food?

A few years ago, I took my 6 children shopping on a quick trip to the mall.  As you might guess, taking 6 small children to the mall is no small task and not for the faint of heart.  As a reward for being “so good” at the mall, (which mostly entailed not running away, breaking something, or causing a commotion that would make the news) I decided to take them to a fast food taco chain.  The location was right across the street from the mall and was a better choice than the food court mostly because there was less room to run away.

We entered the taco shop and I instructed my kids they could each order 2 items off the value menu, they did so.  We then proceeded to wait almost 10 minutes while we watched the employees behind the counter move without haste from one task to the next.  So much for fast food.

My patience and sanity were evaporating more quickly than water on a hot sidewalk.  I was now rethinking the whole “reward” thing as my kids were starting science experiments that involved napkins, various strengths of hot sauce packets, and fists poised over said hot sauce packets.  I’m pretty sure the words “I dare you” were uttered a few times, but I was so distracted by the sluggish attitude going on behind the counter I couldn’t be sure.

Finally, our number was called and I sprinted up to get the food.  I passed out the food, which involved at least two kids claiming that they didn’t order what I gave them.  Between the rolling of eyes (on my part) and the whining of kids (their part), I was done.

I opened my taco and went to put on the hot sauce and froze…there were ants in my food.  Not just a few ants, more than 15 ants were crawling all over the taco.  I quietly folded that taco up and opened the tostada I had also ordered…ants there too. I proceeded to get my kids attention by giving them the “I am no longer sane” stare and they froze in place.  Smart kids.

I then opened all the tacos and tostadas that we had ordered.  All of them had ants.  I opened the burritos, no ants.

We all sat staring at the food filled with ants.  The oldest bravely asked, “What are you going to do mommy?”  I answered, “Were leaving.”  She protested, “Can’t you just tell them and have them make new food?  We should at least get our money back, right mom?”

I thought about it for a few seconds.  The attitude of the employees had told me that they didn’t care about their job.  The fact that most of my food had ants in it confirmed that suspicion.

I folded up all the food.  Placed it back on the tray.  Then I threw the food away.  All the food and we left.  I never said a word to the employees.

The burritos didn’t contain ants, but in my mind, they were tainted.  Since so many ants had gotten past the notice or caring of multiple employees, I no longer had faith in the rest of the products the company had provided.

The experience caused such a strong emotional reaction that 15 years later I have yet to eat at this fast food chain again.

  • How many ants are in your food (product)?
  • Are there enough ants that the rest of your products are tainted?
  • How many customers have left your business never to return, without a word of complaint?
  • Are you managing your biggest asset, your employees, as well as you manage your inventory?



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Mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, cancer survivor, author, teacher, connected, authentic, bold.

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