The real problem with McDonald's all-day breakfast

Everyone remembers where they were when they first learned that McDonald's was going to launch all-day breakfast. Okay, maybe not everyone, but is was really monumental for some. After years of disappointing hangover victims who missed the 10:30 a.m. cutoff time, the fast food giant finally acquiesced and began serving all-day breakfast nationally on October 6, 2015. The keepers of the Golden Arches made the decision because it was the number one request of its customers year after year. We really have Twitter to thank (of course) for providing a platform for Micky D's breakfast enthusiasts to make their pleas known, with 120,000 McMuffin lovers calling on the company to serve all-day breakfast in the year leading up to the change.

You may think the company's road since that fateful October has been paved with even more gold and plenty of McGriddles, but that's not exactly the case. McDonald's, its employees, and its customers have experienced some hurdles. Here's why McDonald's all-day breakfast isn't exactly the Egg McMuffin-studded dream we hoped it would be.

It slows down service

Because many of the breakfast items are cooked to order, especially after a certain time of day (and often long after the "usual" breakfast hours), ordering something from the breakfast menu can increase the wait time for your food. One Reddit user claiming to be a McDonald's employee chimed in on a thread about handling all-day breakfast saying, "After about 3 we do cook to order breakfast which takes up so much f****** time, I work at a new store that opened up 4 months ago so space isn't really an issue but cleaning the grills to put down sausage is a b****. … also we do fall behind, like all the time."

Having to wait a little longer for the food, regardless of what you order, isn't necessarily a bad thing though, and this alleged McDonald's worker confirmed on Reddit that most people don't mind waiting when it's fresh. The user wrote, "Most people are happy to wait for fresh cooked product (eggs and hash browns take the longest to cook at 2min30sec)." 

Depending on the volume of customers in the restaurant, how many people they have working, and what the grill setup is like, it can definitely disrupt the flow when cooks have to suddenly shift from Big Macs to Egg McMuffins. While this isn't a deal breaker for everyone, it could be an issue for someone in a time crunch.

It's a huge hassle for McDonald's workers

If the walls of Reddit reveal anything about McDonald's employee satisfaction, it's that there is definitely a grudge against the relatively new all-day breakfast policy. One supposed McDonald's worker lamented on a thread, "At my McDonalds we have to make Eggs and Muffins fresh for every Egg McMuffin. Not a problem during breakfast, but during lunch it's a b**** and a half with all the orders coming through."

Another worker chimed in on the same thread, explaining, "Breakfast foods get rotated out when lunch comes around and may have to be made on the spot. It takes time and is a huge inconvenience to the kitchen since they have to skip ahead and the come back to your order after whatever you ordered is ready." Just be aware, if you're ordering a McGriddle at 5 p.m., there might be a grill cook who decides to take the frustration of this inconvenience out on your syrup-filled breakfast sandwich — just sayin'.

There's a greater chance your order will get mixed up

Some might say you get what you pay for when it comes to fast food restaurants messing up your order — from leaving the ketchup out of the bag, to forgetting to hold the pickles on your cheeseburger. Throw in the confusion of serving items that used to be designated for certain morning hours, to now being available all day, and it's a recipe for disaster.

After all-day breakfast went into effect, a McDonald's patron complained to Reddit, "Last night my cheeseburger was made with a McMuffin patty and I didn't enjoy it." If you order a sandwich expecting beef as the meat and you instead get sausage, you have every right to be disappointed. Of course, if you drive away from the place and don't check that everything in your order is correct beforehand, that's on you. Either way, ordering from McDonald's now that it serves all-day breakfast means ordering from a crew that might or might not be able to handle the wider range of menu items people have to choose from.

The eggs might sit out a little too long

If you're a McDonald's regular, you probably know by now that the easiest way to get fresh egg (or a round egg, as they call it) on any of the breakfast items is to just ask for it. But you're still taking a gamble by ordering it after the previously designated breakfast hours. One supposed McDonald's worker on Reddit had some pretty harsh accusations around his co-workers' egg handling, implying that they'll cook a large batch of eggs and then "use that for the next 5 hours." That's a timeline not even the most delicious bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit can withstand.

Another Reddit user claiming to be a former McDonald's employee and crew trainer in Sydney also mentioned the less-than-stellar egg prep practices they've seen since the all-day breakfast started up. "Eggs would be used from transition to changeover to afternoon. When the manager asks crew to put it in the waste bin, they talk back and argue it's wasting food (because they can't be bothered to cook another run of eggs)," they said. So while it may be tempting to order egg-based items any time of day at McDonald's now, just because you can, you may want to think twice before doing it.

The hotcake protocol is questionable

It's not really a shock that the hotcakes McDonald's serves are pre-made, frozen, and shipped off to stores, where, once someone orders them, are reheated in a "queuing oven" (which is McDonald's code name for microwave) and served. McDonald's is fully transparent about this process (except for admitting a queuing oven is a microwave).

While McDonald's insists the hot cakes are thawed and nuked only when they're ordered, a Reddit commenter claiming to have worked at Mickey D's suggests otherwise, saying, "Hotcakes are refrigerated and microwaved to order, unless it's super busy when they'll be stored under the microwave for fast access." Unrefrigerated hotcakes? Yum. There's also a chance they may have been heated, then reheated, depending on level of business in the morning hours. While this isn't some sort of crazy concept, it is something to keep in mind when ordering pancakes later in the day — who knows if they're going to be from a stack that's been resting under the infamous queuing oven since breakfast.

Your food might be stale

In addition to eggs that might have been sitting out a little long, there are other foods at risk of getting stale if they're leftover from the initial morning cook and expected to last into the all-day breakfast stable of menu items. 

A supposed McDonald's employee on Reddit confirmed this in a thread, writing, "The muffins will be stale, the eggs will have been there for 30min and the sausage patties could've been there for anywhere between 15 minutes and 3 hours."

It's for this reason that another alleged Golden Arches crew member told Reddit users to steer clear of all the breakfast menu items now that McDonald's sells all-day breakfast (amongst other gripes about what hassle it is). The user stated, "Also the s*** is super old, so we're just throwing s*** that was cooked five hours ago into the microwave for the one person that wants a McGriddle this late." This Redditor also confirmed that the queuing oven is most definitely a microwave, explaining that they're not allowed to say the m-word anymore. 

The possibility of stale food is just something to consider when you've got a hankering for breakfast at midnight.

It's really risky for people with egg allergies

Besides the grossness of the eggs being left to sit too long after cooking, there is also a potential price to pay for someone who never orders eggs anyway. In fact, someone ordering a hamburger at lunch or dinner could be in danger if they're allergic to eggs. That's because, apparently, not all McDonald's workers are mindful of using different tongs for eggs and meat. 

One Reddit user seemingly in the know simply said, "The workers will more than likely use the same tongs for meat as eggs and not change their gloves unless asked." Another Redditor reiterated this, writing, "The thing to watch out for when it comes to eggs is what tongs are the crew using… Anyone who can't/doesn't want meat [or egg] cross contamination should(n't have to) ask that the manager make sure the crew are following procedure." 

The bottom line is that you simply can't trust every single McDonald's staff member to follow the proper protocol when it comes to keeping raw egg away from items normally associated with lunch or dinner. If you have an egg allergy and you're going to McDonald's, just remember to order at your own risk now that all-day breakfast is on the table.

It's also risky for people with gluten allergies

If you have a gluten intolerance, the advent of McDonald's all-day breakfast might make those bun-less Quarter Pounder orders dicey. 

That's because employees might not be cleaning the grills properly between breakfast and lunch, and they might be alternating sausage and hamburger patties on the same grill because they're in a rush, and that means there's a chance of cross-contamination. McDonald's UK confirms that its sausage patties do, in fact, have gluten, explaining, "The seasoning used in our Sausage Patties contains Dextrose and Glucose Syrup, which is derived from wheat. However, levels of gluten will be less than 50ppm." Now, it's worth noting that McDonald's US does not disclose a potential wheat allergen in the ingredients list for its sausage patties, though they do also contain dextrose.

What McDonald's US does own up to is the fact that there's always a chance the food that doesn't contain your particular allergen has come in contact with food that does. A disclaimer on their website states, "Despite taking precautions, normal kitchen operations may involve some shared cooking and preparation areas, equipment and utensils, and the possibility exists for your food items to come in contact with other food products, including allergens." 

Simply put, if a McDonald's worker is under stress during the lunch rush, and on top of that folks are ordering breakfast food, there's no guarantee they'll be taking the necessary precautions to make sure your gluten-free items stay that way.

It is putting less money in the pockets of workers and franchise owners

When the all-day breakfast initially launched, McDonald's franchise owners had to deal with added stressors such as making sure they had enough grill space in the kitchen and consoling customers who were confused by there only being some breakfast menu items available all day (those offerings have since expanded).

But they also had to deal with their bottomline. One former franchise owner, Kathryn Slater-Carter, told Fox News, "It costs more money and their discounting is lowering our prices. We are getting fewer dollars in and in the franchise system… the dollars off the top go to the franchisor. So they make the money and then we are left with what's left to pay our bills and pay our crew." While every franchise owner has probably had different experiences, the potentially negative impact on the these folks is just something to consider if you want to keep supporting McDonald's all-day breakfast venture.

It's potentially threatening the survival of McDonald's at large

The initial surge of excitement when all-day breakfast first started didn't exactly stick the way McDonald's had hoped. When the company decided to take the plunge and offer McMuffins all day long, it did so at the risk of decreasing the usual amount of customers at breakfast hours. So, perhaps not surprisingly, in 2018 when the chain reported lackluster overall sales and a shrinking market share, it was attributed to a drop in regular breakfast time customers. Maybe it's true — something is much more appealing when you know it's only available for a limited amount of time (or, at least until the next morning). According to Bloomberg, McDonald's plan to combat the breakfast drop and gain back traffic included discounts, breakfast catering, and, inexplicably, selling Seinfeld-inspired muffin tops

There is no doubt Micky D's will keep fighting the good fight for fast food dominance. But despite hoping otherwise, all-day breakfast hasn't completely saved it from the strain caused by growing preferences for healthier fast food and fresher dining options.