A Bit Peanut Peeved

peanut oil
As a parent of a child that
may be allergic to peanuts I was more than a little peeved to realize that I have been letting him eat food cooked in peanut oil…

Let me start at the beginning…

As soon as he had a few hives on his face the first weekend I fed him peanut butter shortly after his first birthday I became incredibly aware of all the possible foods that contain peanuts and tree nuts.  I introduced our son peanut butter during a long weekend and as soon as Monday came around I called the allergist that I knew I wanted to use for him in case he has allergies like Mama. 

He had the skin test, blood test, and a non-definitive food challenge test for peanuts…

The allergist told us that until we get a definitive result (aka: my son completing the food challenge) to avoid all peanuts and tree nuts. 

My husband and I thought we were doing that… until today when I noticed at Chick-fil-a that 100% refined peanut oil is used for the breaded chicken.  Every time I go to a restaurant I always check for signage informing me of peanuts and / or peanut oil… I had never noticed signage at the door or on the menu or anywhere else…

Least to say… I was absolutely peeved and a bit taken-a-back this morning as I was sitting at Chick-fil-a after an awesome morning together and on the side of the kids chicken nuggets box had a simple sentence stating that peanut oil is used for their breaded chicken.  He had already eaten about half of the chicken and was now on to some of my waffle fries… It was not worth wrestling him to get the chicken away…

I quickly Googled: “Does Chick-fil-a use peanut oil?” and was shocked at the results that came onto the screen of my phone…

This is what Chick-fil-a says about it on their website:

Q: Why does Chick-fil-A use Peanut Oil?

A:  Chick-fil-A® has exclusively used refined (heat processed) peanut oil to cook Chick-fil-A chicken menu items…

In 1999, we began labeling foil bags and Chick-fil-A® Nuggets boxes to inform customers of our use of peanut oil. We also communicate our peanut oil message through our Website, nutrition brochures and menu boards, which include a message about the use of peanut oil at the bottom of some of the panels…  The proteins in the oil are stripped out during the processing. According to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska Food Allergy Research & Resource Program, highly refined oils “do not demonstrate a hazard to allergic individuals.” There have been many well-designed studies to test the effect of highly refined oils on allergic individuals, and the majority of these “support the position that refined oils are safe for the food allergic-allergic population to consume.” Also, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation, highly refined (heat solvent extracted) oil are “non allergenic*.”

*From International Food Information Council Foundation.

Q: Are oils derived from foods that can cause allergy, such as peanut oil, also allergenic?

A:  Not usually. Most commercial oils such as peanut oil are highly refined (hot solvent extracted), which removes protein from the product. These types of oils are most commonly used in commercial food preparation. Since it is protein in allergenic foods that cause food allergy, highly refined oils are non-allergenic, research has shown that individuals with a severe peanut allergy have not had reactions to heat processed oils. However, people with a food allergy should avoid “gourmet” or cold pressed oils because they may contain allergenic proteins, which provide the flavor to the oil. For the same reason, oils that have been used to fry potentially allergenic foods should be avoided by allergic individuals.

* Used with permission from International Food Information Council Foundation Publication- Questions and Answers About Food Allergy

We are providing the above information solely for your reference. If you or your family member has a peanut allergy, we recommend that, prior to making a decision as to whether or not to eat any Chick-fil-A menu item, you consult with your physician.

As a parent of a child that may be allergic to peanuts I am more than peeved… The site says that on some of the menu boards informs customers that peanut oil is used.  Why is it not labeled at the front door of the restaurant like other places that cook with peanut oil (for example: Five Guys)? 

I should not have to be reading the fine print and the website to be informed that Chick-fil-a uses peanut oil!  Luckily, there have been no severe reactions after eating there but I also have noticed that he does not eat a ton of the chicken there and am wondering if he feels a reaction and just stops eating the chicken.  We will have to wait and see once we complete the food challenge in a few more months.


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