Chick-Fil-A and other restaurants add sesame to their products

Magnum Hermosa
4 min readDec 15, 2022
Chick-Fil-A and other restaurants add sesame to their products

BuzzFeed News visited a Chick-fil-A restaurant in New York City and found a message posted near the food pickup area noting the changeover, in both English and Spanish.

“Food safety and quality are our top priorities. We take great care in adhering to strict food safety procedures,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. Customers with a sesame allergy may prefer to order a gluten-free cake, which does not contain sesame ingredients. Baking products are on the menu. The breakfast, including tortillas, English muffins, mini yeast rolls, and biscuits, is also free of sesame ingredients.”

Lauren, 35, who told BuzzFeed News she preferred to keep her last name private, has a son who is allergic to sesame and has had allergic reactions to it, as well as to peanuts and tree nuts. She told us her family has eaten Chick-fil-A at least once a week for the past three years during movie nights, and that she’s even catered for her son’s school parties. Her son’s last allergic reaction about three years ago caused her to develop PTSD and anxiety.

Lauren said the general manager at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant told her the restaurant could not guarantee that any product was safe from cross-contact, even though the company’s website says it prepares foods “following procedures to prevent cross-contact of allergens, but the products It contains wheat, eggs, soy and milk all made in our kitchens.”

When she inquired about “clean gloves,” Lauren wrote in an email, she was told the manager’s staff “wouldn’t.” “Fun fact: I wrote ‘clean gloves, food sensitivities’ on every order for more than three years and employees told me it was followed.” (Requiring restaurant workers to wear clean gloves when handling food is a common approach for people wanting to avoid allergens.)

“I feel so sad for a lot of people right now. This, for a lot of us, was the only restaurant we felt comfortable eating at,” Lauren said. “This is laziness and a complete CYA move on Chick-fil-A’s part and I’m so disappointed.”

Wendy’s did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ multiple requests for comment to confirm whether it added sesame to its products in response to the FASTER law. The company said in an email that the employees are in back-to-back business meetings and will submit a statement by the end of Wednesday.

However, their website says that many products, such as Jr. Cheeseburger, Baconator, and Crispy Chicken Sandwich, contain sesame or sesame flour and list sesame as an allergen. Other products, such as chicken nuggets, have a warning in the ingredients list that says “cooked in the same oil as menu items containing wheat, milk, eggs, soybeans, sesame, and fish.”

It’s unclear when the changes were made, but sources told BuzzFeed News that they haven’t seen Sesame attached to any Wendy’s products yet, and it was only a check on the company’s website after private discussions with “allergic people” that revealed the changes.

Further, on each product page, Wendy’s states: “We provide examples of known allergens; however, cross-contact is possible due to shared handling and preparation areas in our restaurants. We cannot guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens.” Allergens. Customers with sensitivities and sensitivities should make the decision when ordering.”

Adrienne Cardone, 39, and mother of an 8-year-old boy with more than a dozen food allergies, including sesame, which can cause anaphylaxis, wonders how everything would have been different if companies had announced they were adding peanuts to their products. . She said Wendy’s was the only fast food restaurant her son could eat at.

“This is the opposite of corporate responsibility. This is the opposite of inclusivity. This is corporate laziness and malfeasance,” Cardone said. “Can’t a multibillion-dollar company bake its cake in a safe environment, or find a partner who can?”

Cardone acknowledges that Wendy’s is a comfort to her family rather than a need, but she worries about families who will be disproportionately affected by the move, including those who rely on fast food to meet their children’s nutritional needs.

“It’s 2022! We can make meat-free ‘meats’, gluten-free ‘baguettes’ and dairy-free ice cream, but these fast food giants can’t find a baker who can bake a sesame-free bun?”

Laura Smithers, 40, has two daughters with life-threatening food allergies, one of whom is to sesame. She said finding safe places to eat out “has been a huge undertaking over the past 13 years.” She relies so much on Chick-fil-A, especially while traveling, that she’s shown up at countless restaurants and even weddings with bags of Chick-fil-A for her kids to avoid allergic reactions.

“Needless to say, no one in our community could have imagined that this new law would strike such a devastating blow rather than the reassurance and clarity that we were seeking,” Smithers said. “This response to the Labeling Act is inexcusable. It is heartbreaking that nothing changes with these recipes, yet these companies choose to endanger millions of Americans with sesame allergies and make their establishments and products something we must avoid to keep our loved ones safe.”

“It was a devastating loss, to say the least,” she said.