You Should Never Order Chili At Wendy's. Here's Why

Wendy's is perhaps best known in the fast-food world for its social media team, which is always willing to engage in Twitter battles about... well, anything. When it comes to their menu, there are no real standouts among the typical selection of burgers, chicken sandwiches, and the obligatory salads, but they do have two standout items that let you know you're in the right drive-through instead of at the McDonald's or Burger King next door (what's up with fast food restaurants all clustering together?) — their yummy Frostys and that oh-so-tasty chili.

Sadly, the chili is one thing on Wendy's menu that you really shouldn't be ordering, at least if you like your meals served with a side of food safety and hygiene. It seems that Wendy's employees have some beef — and have taken to social media (not the corporate Twitter) to spill the beans on just how nasty the chili really is.

Wendy's chili is made from expired burgers

Ok, so reduce, reuse, and recycle, we get it — but it's not really what we expect, or want, when we're ordering food that's supposed to be at least somewhat fresh. And yet, recycled food is exactly what goes into Wendy's chili.

One Wendy's shift manager exposed on Reddit (via SoYummy) the fact that all of the chili meat comes from burgers that have stayed too long on the grill and are now too old, hard, and dried-out to be disguised under any amount of cheese, pickles, ketchup, and other toppings. The leftover meat pucks are cut up, bagged, and frozen to go into a later batch of chili. While the manager said they did not think this practice was actually dangerous or likely to make anyone sick, still, they admitted, "It just doesn't quite sit right with me."

The beans in Wendy's chili are a potential danger as well

Yet another employee, who also confirmed the fact that all chili meat came from patties that had "time[d] out of use for a burger," supplied the additional information that the beans (and other chili ingredients) start out dried, not canned. They said the chili needed to be cooked for about four hours in order for the beans to soften, but it's worth mentioning that raw or undercooked kidney beans can be highly toxic (via Iowa State University). Although there haven't been any well-documented reports of people becoming sick from undercooked beans in Wendy's chili, still, it would be safer, and more reassuring, if the chili beans came from cans.

If you're now wary of ordering chili from Wendy's, there is a way you can still get the same tasty goodness without running any risk of illness: make it yourself at home with this copycat recipe. Sure, it takes a little time, but then, a few hours in the kitchen beats all night in the bathroom with a nasty bout of food poisoning.

Wendy's chili has dangerously high levels of sodium

If the risk of food poisoning seems too remote, there's always the nutritional profile to consider. So how does Wendy's chili stack up, health-wise? Initially, it doesn't seem too bad. Assuming that you order a large size, intending to make a meal of the chili, it comes in at a respectable 330 calories and has just 15 grams of fat (6 of these saturated). It also has 30 grams of carbohydrates, so not exactly keto-friendly, but then, beans are usually seen as "good carbs." A large Wendy's chili also offers 22 grams of protein, not too shabby, and it even has 20 percent of your daily recommended iron.

Oh, but wait, what's this — 1,300 milligrams of sodium? Uh-oh. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, so one large chili will put you more than halfway there. Unless you plan to keep a strict watch on the sodium content of everything else you'll be eating, the excess salt may make you dehydrated and bloated, and regular consumption could leave you at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Maybe Wendy's chili's not as delicious as all that, anyway

Does Wendy's chili still sound like something worth taking risks for? Well, while it is pretty yummy as far as fast food offerings go, it's not really the best chili out there. Brand Eating found it to be more of a "hearty soup" than a real chili, and described the primary flavor as being "definitely tomato and not much else really." The other vegetables it contains (beans, peppers, onions, and celery) were said to add texture more than flavor, while they found the meat to be "mealy and almost grainy... somewhat off-putting." Even adding cheese didn't do much for the chili, since the cheddar used was too mild to have much taste of its own.

Overall, their verdict seemed to be that while Wendy's chili is decent enough for a fast-food side dish, it's not exactly a "can't-miss" culinary experience. When you take that alongside its dubious provenance and possible health risks, you'd do better to satisfy your chili cravings elsewhere.