Chick-fil-A: New Gluten Free Bun + What’s Gluten Free at Chick-fil-A

ATLANTA (June 19, 2017) – Chick-fil-A® announced today the addition of a new Gluten-Free Bun. The addition comes in response to customers’ requests for more gluten-free/sensitive options on the menu. The new bun, which is now available in restaurants nationwide, comes individually packaged and can be ordered with any of Chick-fil-A’s sandwich offerings.

The Gluten-Free Bun is made with premium ingredients, including ancient grains quinoa and amaranth. It is enriched with vitamins and minerals and is lightly sweetened with molasses and raisins. The Gluten-Free Bun rolls out nationwide following successful tests in three cities across the country in 2016.

Data shows roughly 18 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity or preference. Chick-fil-A is one of the few quick-service restaurants to offer a gluten-free bun.

“We know our customers are looking for more gluten-sensitive alternatives. They asked, and we listened,” said Leslie Neslage, senior consultant of menu development at Chick-fil-A. “We heard positive feedback in test markets that the bun tastes better than some other gluten-free breads. That’s because instead of rice flower, we’ve made the bun with more premium ingredients like quinoa and amaranth. Our hope is that the Gluten-Free Bun addition opens up options for gluten-sensitive customers to enjoy more of our menu.”

Also worth noting – “While individually packaged and certified free of gluten, guests will be required to assemble their own sandwiches to reduce risk of cross-contamination. Chick-fil-A kitchens are not gluten-free.”  See below for a link the full news release.

Chick-fil-A has also re-added a “gluten free” list to their website.  That, and any reference to gluten, has been conspicuously absent from their site for years.

I think Chick-fil-A has been going the wrong direction with regards to gluten free for a while.  See: Chick-fil-A – A Step Backwards When It Comes to Gluten Free.  This menu addition and the additional information MAY be a sign they are changing directions.  I still have serious concerns.  Read on.

Chick-fil-A continues use phrases that make me think they are not using Celiac-safe methods.

Example: “For guests who wish to minimize their gluten intake, here is a list of additional menu items offered at Chick-fil-A. (The fine print: Due to the handcrafted nature of our food, variations in our supplier ingredients and our use of shared cooking and preparation areas, we cannot ensure that our restaurant environment or any menu item will be completely free of gluten.)” from the What’s Gluten Free at Chick-fil-A? page.  Emphasis mine.

I get it.  Their kitchens contain gluten and there’s no guarantee that cross contamination will not occur.

Troubling.  The really troubling parts of that statement are – “variations in our supplier ingredients”…”we cannot ensure that our restaurant environment or any menu item will be completely free of gluten”

Wait, what?  You mean to tell me that Chick-fil-A doesn’t have enough sway with their suppliers to work with them to guarantee certain ingredients are gluten free?  So, the honey mustard is gluten free as of some point, but supplier A decided to change something and now it’s not and we can’t do anything about it and too bad.

What about other allergens?  Can those just randomly show up in the food too?  How about “Sorry guys, the coleslaw has peanuts in it today, hope you brought your EpiPen”.

This is careless, sloppy and/or reckless.

With regards to cross contamination… In 2013 Chick-fil-A had the following on their website: “While we don’t have a gluten free prep area for these items, our procedures have been written to avoid cross contamination”

Sometime after March of 2014, the term gluten was all but expunged from Chick-fil-A’s website.  In December of 2016, the only mention I could find of the term gluten related to applesauce or something in their kids meals.  The allergen matrix made no mention of gluten.

Now that gluten seems to be a valid word again at Chick-fil-a are they still trained to avoid cross contamination?  Were they ever trained to do so?

Chick-fil-A… How about working with your suppliers to make sure they truly supply gluten free items?  How about giving people with serious gluten issues some insight as to what goes on in the kitchen and give us a clue how and if we can order safely (within reason) at your restaurants??

Or – Just say it… Celiacs and the like – stay away.  We use the term “gluten sensitive” because we’re hopping hopping on the bandwagon.

At least that way, you wouldn’t be hopping on the bandwagon at our expense.

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