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Consumers' growing beef with fast food

In Europe, fast-food joints don't enjoy a sterling reputation. For many people, they are a potent symbol of economic globalization and the genetic modification of food.

That distaste seems to be mounting in the US, too. PlanetFeedback.com, a website that catalogs consumer opinion, says that complaints from Americans about fast-food establishments have spiked over the past few months, outpacing compliments by nearly 50 percent.

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From September 2000 to February 2001, the restaurant industry elicited the highest volume of consumer feedback at the site, led by 15,000 messages directed to fast-food chains. Top concerns are food safety, cleanliness, and poor service. Customer requests include more breakfast offerings, low-fat items, and veggie burgers.

Grades of various chains, based on consumer opinion:

In-N-Out Burger A

Chick-fil-A A-

Krispy Kreme A-

White Castle B

Long John Silver's B-

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Boston Market B-

Dairy Queen C

Wendy's C

Burger King C

McDonald's C

Taco Bell C

Hardees C-

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor