The Real Reason You Should Avoid The Roast Beef At Arby's

When you're craving a juicy, meaty sandwich, Arby's is probably one of the first places that pops into your head. This fast food restaurant has a large menu and is the most well known for its signature roast beef sandwich.

However, when you bite into one of Arby's signature sandwiches, you may notice it doesn't taste like the roast beef you buy in the grocery store. That's because the meat between those buns is not traditionally-made roast beef. The real stuff, according to Delish, is prepared by seasoning a large cut of beef, roasting it until tender, and then cutting it into thin, tender slices.

Arby's does things a little differently. According to an Arby's employee on a 2021 Reddit thread discussing the fast food items people should never order, the chain's sandwiches are made with "a compressed block of beef scraps." They went on to say that the block of scraps comes sitting in a bag of beef broth and is warmed until it's ready to be served.

Jim Lowder, a Quality Assurance representative for Arby's, told Snopes in 2005 that the roast beef "consists entirely of Beef and a Self-Basting solution, which contains just enough water to keep the product juicy throughout our restaurants' 3-hour roasting process and during slicing." Whether that grosses you out or not, it's always good to know exactly where your food is coming from.

Arby's roast beef is ultra-processed

Some people may turn to Arby's thinking it is a healthier option than a hamburger joint. But the roast beef is ultra-processed, linking it to a higher risk of dying earlier from a variety of health concerns (via Nutrition Journal).

Although Arby's does offer some healthier choices like salads, the options are few and far between. When talking to Very Well Fit, Willow Jarosh, MS, R.D., said that most options there "don't fulfill a full veggie portion and are very high in sodium — some with more than a day's recommended sodium."

The classic roast beef sandwich contains 970 milligrams of sodium, which is over half of the recommended daily intake for adults. And the half-pound roast beef sandwich contains a whopping 2,040 milligrams of sodium, and other menu items can go even higher. While it's fine to enjoy Arby's occasionally, be sure to limit your visits and balance out the rest of your diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Arby's roast beef isn't antibiotic-free

In addition to being ultra-processed, Arby's roast beef could be loaded with antibiotics. Of the 25 largest fast-food chains in the U.S., only 14 have implemented policies that either limit or completely eliminate the use of antibiotics in meat products and received a passing grade on a scorecard put together by groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Center for Food Safety (via Consumer Reports). Meanwhile, 11 fast-food chains, including Arby's, received a failing grade.

While antibiotics have long been given to livestock to help prevent the spread of disease, this can lead to antibiotic resistance, which occurs when disease-causing germs and bacteria evolve and fail to respond to drugs. This can contribute to illnesses that antibiotics can't treat or cure.

According to Lena Brook, a food policy advocate at NRDC, over 70% of antibiotics intended for human use are sold and given to animals, many of which are not sick to begin with. "When you use antibiotics in this routine way, resistance happens," Brook told Consumer Reports, "and that resistant bacteria can then escape from farms and find their way into communities."