Chick-Fil-A has always been one of my favorite fast food places to go. The people are courteous, the facility is clean, and the food is healthier than that of many its fast food counterparts.
When my son was newly diagnosed with a peanut allergy I remember being shocked that a restaurant like Chick-Fil-A would use peanut oil to cook their chicken nuggets, fries, and so on. How could a restaurant chain that focuses a great deal on young families offer food contaminated with peanut, one of the fastest growing food allergies in the United States? Do parents even realize that Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil for their fried menu items? (It is important to note that recently Chick-Fil-A has changed policies and cooks their fries only in canola oil.)
On a recent visit to the allergist, I asked him how so many young children were able to eat Chick-Fil-A without food allergy complications and why the restaurant would adopt a policy like cooking with peanut oil. He explained that Chick-Fil-A uses a highly refined for of peanut oil that is stripped of most of the offending proteins for peanut allergy sufferers. He spoke at length with the local Chick-Fil-A manager as well as the chain manager and felt confident that my son (who has a very high peanut allergy) could safely consume items (Chick-Fil-A only) cooked in peanut oil. (For more information, visit Chick-Fil-A’s website that explains in specific detail about the correlation of food allergies to the peanut oil used in their facilities: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Ingredients-Peanut-Oil).
I whole-heartedly trust our allergist. He airs on the side of caution and always thoroughly researches information before making a recommendation to us. A physician’s information is so valuable, but I also felt it important to supplement with my own research…it’s what food allergy moms do. After examining the research from our allergist and my own research, I felt confident in my decision. Still, I like in to do doing a food challenge for a child that is no longer allergic to a certain food- the science may say it’s safe, but the heart hasn’t quite laid down its defenses.
For the first year or two of my son’s diagnosis, the poor child had very little new food (other than the few items we had already tried) because I was too scared I would miss something when researching a new food or that there would be a communication gap between food manufacturers and restaurants. This is not the kind of life I want for my child. I want him to safely be able to experience new foods that I have done my research on and spoken about with his doctors.
After exhaustive research by my allergist and myself, I felt confident in my decision to do a food challenge for Chick-Fil-A under our physician’s care. As I mentioned above, even though my head knew the science and statistics from all that research, the experience was anything but relaxing…those of you who’ve been through a food challenge know exactly what I mean. It was a nerve-racking afternoon for me, but my son was loving the chicken nuggets and french fries! He had absolutely no reaction to the peanut oil used by Chick-Fil-A.
Now we have a new place to eat out and sit down together as a family. There is something for everyone…even those that are gluten-free, like myself!
It is wonderful to be able to support a family-friendly, Christian-based restaurant that offers healthy food choices! Thank you, Chick-Fil-A!!!
*It is important to research thoroughly and consult with your child’s doctors and allergist before trying a new food. One child’s experience with a highly refined food allergen is not necessarily the same as the next child’s experience. Be sure to visit Chick-Fil-A’s website to research this topic further (http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Home).