A Guest Post by Jodie, Senior Nutrition Consultant for Chick-Fil-A, Inc.

My blog posts about Chick-Fil-A are hands down the most read among my readers.  I think it is because this popular restaurant chain now offers a gluten-free kids meal (in addition to other gluten-free menu items) and the specially processed peanut oil their chicken is cooked in.

So many of you contact me daily to ask about Chick-Fil-A and the story behind their use of peanut oil, that I invited Chick-Fil-A to educate us right here on The Food Allergy Mom blog.

That is why I am truly so excited to announce my special guest blogger for today, Jodie, a Senior Nutrition Consultant at Chick-Fil-A, Inc.   Take a few minutes to read her explanation of the peanut oil used at Chick-Fil-A and then please discuss with your doctor before taking any action.

Once you’ve had a chance to read her post, please be sure to leave us a comment if you’d be interested in hearing future posts from the folks at Chick-Fil-A on various allergy topics such as overall allergen testing from their suppliers ( i.e. how they test their new cookie to ensure it is nut-free) and further details about the processing of their peanut oil.

Thank you, Jodie!  We here at The Food Allergy Mom look forward to hearing more from you soon!


Commentary provided by Jodie, a Senior Nutrition Consultant at Chick-Fil-A, Inc.

“Chick-fil-A has used refined (heat processed) peanut oil to cook our chicken products since our founder created the Chick-fil-A Sandwich in the 1960s. Our peanut oil is a fully refined peanut oil (refined, bleached and deodorized). This type of process strips out the protein in the oil.

Based on the FDA Food Allergen Labeling Compliance and Protection Act, highly refined oils are not considered allergenic, and therefore do not have to be declared on the label.  In addition, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska Food Allergy Research & Resource Program states that highly refined oils, “…do not demonstrate a hazard to allergic reactions.” Many studies have tested the effect of highly refined oils on individuals with allergies and the majority of the studies, “support the position that refined oils are safe for the food allergic-allergic population to consume.”

Our oil suppliers test the oil after refining and after packaging, to make sure the process has removed any contaminates, including proteins.  The goal of this testing is to make sure that no contaminates have entered the oil (including proteins) throughout the entire process.  Chick-fil-A and our suppliers have very stringent standards to ensure quality and safety of our peanut oil.  

Despite the numerous findings to support highly refined oil as non-allergenic, we always recommend customers with peanut/nut allergies consult with their physician first before consuming food cooked in peanut oil. The final decision should be one agreed upon by you and your doctor.”


**The views expressed in this blog and commentary should not be substituted for or viewed as medical advice.  Always consult your physician before taking action.


Chick-Fil-A Offers Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

My family and I used to avoid Chick-fil-A like the plague because they used peanut oil to cook their fried items and my son has peanut allergies.  After visiting at length with my son’s allergist and doing some research of my own (see this post for more information on Chick-Fil-A and peanut allergies), we discovered that Chick-Fil-A nuggets and fries were indeed safe for my severely peanut-allergic son to consume.

(Disclaimer:  Before eating at Chick-Fil-A, it is crucial that you speak with your child’s allergist to determine if their food is safe for your child to consume.  *Note:  Chick-Fil-A now fries their french fries only in canola oil.)

Since that point in time, Chick-Fil-A is like the happiest place on earth for my family!  I am gluten-free and with my son’s peanut, nut, sesame, and chickpea allergies eating on the run can be a challenge, but we can all eat something there.  🙂

Usually, my kids menu item of choice is the kids chicken nugget meal with fruit and milk.  Overall, it’s a healthy option so it makes mommy happy too!

Since I’m gluten-free, I usually stick to the Chargrilled Chicken Salad (I don’t use any of the sides) with the Thousand Island Salad Dressing.  But now…I have a new option!

Hot off the press, released January 9th, 2012, Chick-Fil-A is offering a new kids grilled chicken nugget menu item that is gluten-free.  Hooray!  The chicken nuggets are grilled and seasoned with a salt and pepper mixture making them healthy and gluten-free.  The nuggets are served with squeezable 100% fruit and a beverage.

It is estimated that one out of every thirteen U.S. children have at least one food allergy.  Despite this statistic, Cheerios just announced it is releasing a peanut butter flavored cereal to children.  Really?!?!

It is so nice to see Chick-Fil-A standing up to the plate and doing what is good for kids…something they already have a lot of experience with.  If you’re so inclined, take a minute to email Chick-Fil-A and let them know what you think of their new gluten-free menu item.

Chick-Fil-A and Peanut Allergies: Is It Safe?

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).