New french fries at Burger King – Are they safe for you?

[this AllergyEats Blog entry written by Sharon Studley and Paul Antico]

So another fast food chain is upgrading their menu to stay competitive – and confusing all of us dealing with food allergies and intolerances in the process.

Two months ago it was Wendy’s introducing a new buttered bun for their sandwiches.  Now it’s Burger King introducing new french fries.

When Burger King first announced “there was a new fry in town” at the beginning of the month, AllergyEats started investigating.

In order to avoid the problems we had uncovering the details about Wendy’s new sandwich buns, where we made several phone calls to Wendy’s only to  discover that each call resulted in a different answer to our questions, we took a little longer this time. Over the course of a week and a half, we made a few phone calls, on different days, asking the same questions to different customer service representatives. Fortunately, this time the answers were consistent on each call (kudos to you, BK).

Burger King’s new fries should be in all of their restaurants by now. So what’s changed? They have a new coating that results in a crispier outside and fluffier inside. They also have gone with a thicker cut.

With respect to the impact on those of us dealing with food allergies, Burger King reps stated every time we called the exact same message that is on their website nutrition information sheet (click through via this page) – these fries contain none of the “Big 8” allergens.  Unfortunately, we were not able to ascertain which other ingredients might have been added or deleted – trade secrets, of course.

We also asked about cross contamination with other foods, particularly the onion rings which do contain milk and wheat. Burger King responded that the french fries and onion rings generally have their own dedicated fryers to avoid cross contamination However, they reminded us that 90% of Burger King restaurants are owned by franchisees, NOT Burger King itself. And while the franchisees are required to follow the strict rules and protocols set out by the parent, there is always a chance that some do not adhere to every detail.

The takeaway from this last remark: as always, inform the employees of your allergies and ask about dedicated fryers and possible cross contact!  Remember that, with all due respect to Burger King and other fast food restaurants, these kitchens are often very busy and staffed by young employees, who change jobs rapidly (thus, there are almost always some who are new and inexperienced).  Many of these kitchens are also not exactly the model of cleanliness, though that may be an unfair generalization.

So to sum, the fries have changed, but do not differ in their allergen status with respect to the “Big 8”. Thus, whether you have previously felt comfortable or uncomfortable eating the french fries at Burger King, it appears that your comfort level should be no different today.

But always speak up and ask questions… every time!

Thoughts on this blog entry that you’d like to share?  First-hand experiences with these new fries?  Please click Comments or Reply below and let us know what you think.

Also, please remember to rate any recent restaurant experiences you’ve had on our core AllergyEats site at www.allergyeats.com.  Together, we’ve built an amazing tool that is changing the lives of people dining out with food allergies… but we still have so many more restaurants to rate!  Rating a restaurant is so simple – it takes just a minute and only requires answering 3 multiple choice questions (and adding an optional comment).  If you could spare just this one minute, you could help further increase the value of AllergyEats for our entire community.  We’re all in this together!

Comments

    Author:
    Jennifer Boettinger
    Written:


    Thanks for the article!!! BK is the only fast food place we trust for my kids with dairy, egg, and peanut allergies. We ate at BK last weekend and had a great experience. We always alert them of our allergies and ask them to change their gloves. The new fries are delicious!

    Author:
    Robyn
    Written:


    Thanks for this insightful blog. I was worried when I heard they were changing the fries. BK was the one place my 7 year old can have fries (thank you separate fryolators). We’ll check it out this weekend and let you know how it goes!

    Author:
    Stacy Ross
    Written:


    Thank you so much for posting this. I appreciate the work you do to keep the food-allergy community safe and informed!

    Author:
    Jeanette Bradley
    Written:


    What kind of oil do they fry in? According to FALCPA, food manufacturers do not have to disclose soy oil or soy lecithin as an allergen in their products. Supposedly most people with soy allergies can tolerate those tiny bits of sky protein.

    But my daughter can not. So something listed as free of big 8 allergens but fried in soy oil would definately cause a reaction for her. Which basically means she can not eat out, since soy oil is everywhere in most restaurants, and is not disclosed in the ingredients they use in their foods.

      Author:
      AEPaul
      Written:


      Jeanette –
      Word from BK is that the fryer can have either soybean oil or canola & palm oils.

    Author:
    AiXeLsyD13
    Written:


    Why are restaurants always changing their fries? I heard a rumor last time BK switched fries that they said to do something with sugar to make the puffy/crispy coating. I don’t know how credible my source is though. Ha ha.

    I was unaware that BK had separate fryers, and that is great… but I agree it’s all up to the training & employees at the individual location. If they’re told that there are separate fryers, but not why, they might use the other one in a pinch.

    What goes in the separate fryer? One for fries one for chicken/fish/onion rings? Where’s the breakfast stuff cooked?

    I’ve had a trip to the hospital thanks to onion rings cooked in the same fryer as shrimp. Chaos, I tell you. Ha ha.

    Author:
    Mverri
    Written:


    We don’t eat here, period. Too many sesame seeds floating around 🙁 That’s one of our big allergens…
    And yes, how do you trust teenagers with your life while working in these places?! No offense..I have them! There is no place like home 🙂

    Author:
    Susan
    Written:


    Thank you for the great article and research!! BK are the only FF fries my daughter can have and I would have cried if she could not continue to have them as a special treat! Kudos to BK for keeping them Big 8 Free AND for the separate fryolators!

    Author:
    Kim
    Written:


    Thank you for the information. We stopped eating there as soon as we discovered that there is milk in their new chicken nuggets. My son, who has a severe dairy allergy, could eat the old nuggets as long as they were cooked in the french fry oil, which a couple BK’s would do upon our request. So now, we don’t eat any fast food and that’s fine with me!!

    Author:
    TPearson
    Written:


    I didn’t see the oil being addressed that the fries are being cooked in. Does anyone know if the big 8 are absent from it as well?

    Author:
    TPearson
    Written:


    I didn’t see the whether to oil they use are free of the big 8. Does anyone know if it is?

    Author:
    Lorayne
    Written:


    I personally do not feel safe as I ordered some just a few days ago and there was an onion ring in the container. This happened after I explained to two or three of the staff (teens) that I have allergies to wheat, gluten and cow’s milk products! bummer

    Author:
    Chris
    Written:


    The new fries are EXACTLY the same as the old fries with EXACTLY the same coating as the old fries. The only difference? They are thicker and have a bit less sodium. Ok, so? They still taste awful.

    Author:
    Erin
    Written:


    According to their website, the chicken tenders do not contain milk, just wheat. How often is the allergen information updated?

      Author:
      AEPaul
      Written:


      Erin – I don’t know for sure, but most fast food restaurants seem to update once every month or two.

    Author:
    Dakota Allergy
    Written:


    Allergies of ANY kind can be deadly and should be taken seriously.
    That being said, these new fries are delicious! Love the crunch on the outside.

    Author:
    Jason
    Written:


    I ask them skip the big warming bin with my fries when I go. The onion rings share that bin with only a divider between them. Way too often I’ve found a stray onion ring (and its wheat/gluten coating) in my french fries!

    Author:
    kathy
    Written:


    my grandaughter ate the fries last night from wendies and she had an alergic reation within one half hour – checked the website and it does say the manufacturer warns that the fries are fried in the same oil as peanuts, eggs, etc. She is alergic to eggs and peanuts – this is the first time she has had the fries there – just a warning to other parents that have children alergic to eggs.
    they may even be coated with an egg base product.

    Author:
    Chazney
    Written:


    I have a pretty serious allergy to poultry, but typically cross contamination doesn’t affect me. I am typically able to eat the fries from McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants just fine. However, when I eat Burger Kings fries my throat swells up, I become feverish, and I get a bad headache. Sometimes my reaction to BK’s fries is worse than if I have straight poultry. It makes me wonder if they use Chicken fat or something similar to give the fries their distinct flavor. Unfortunately nothing has changed since they have redone their recipe. Has anyone heard of them using chicken in their fryers other than normal cross contamination?

    Author:
    Elena
    Written:


    BEWARE! Just spoke to Burger King yesterday about their internet allergen/ingredient list published on their website. The list had not been updated since March 2012 and there is a disclaimer on the bottom stating that their ingredients may change without notice and can cross contaminate the beef and chicken. Also, I recently discovered that Subway leaves any food allergy training up to the franchise owner…my local Subway does NOT train their employees at all! Both restaurants are on my DO NOT TRUST list.

    Author:
    Karen
    Written:


    BK uses sea salt on their new fries, I wasnt aware of this and ate their fries woke up in the morning with a huge swollen lip. If your allergic to shell fish watch out for sea salt!

    Author:
    Cindi
    Written:


    We bought a breakfast meal that included hash rounds this past summer. Later that evening, my 11 year old started breaking out in hives. By the next morning, he was broke out from head to toe in huge hives! He was put on steroids for 2 rounds! It took about 3 weeks for the hives to go away because he also had a rebound of them. I have not been to Burger King since. These restaurants should be held accountable for any potential problems when they are not 100% honest with every ingredient that people consume.

    Author:
    Thomas Snell
    Written:


    I just learned something very unnerving. Called a Wendy’s restaurant and asked if they had seperate fryer for fries and all things breaded. They say “Yes”. I press the issue a little futher telling the manager my Gluten concerns to which he responds…Well we do mix all the oils together when we strain the food bits out then re-populate the separate fryer with the mixed oil.

    Not an expert but this sounds like a real problem. Press the issue folks. Separate fryers are useless if they mix the oil together.

    Author:
    Eve
    Written:


    Thank you for this post. I’m allergic to seafood and the BK fries are making my tongue and mouth itchy. I was so scared and couldn’t figure it out. I’m positive it’s the sea salt.

    Author:
    Reba Walker
    Written:


    Tonight I had Burger Kings “Classic” Fries for my dinner. I woke quickly when I had my usual painful reaction to MSG. I’ve not had this reaction prior to the “Satis”fries being placed on their menu. I’ve had this reaction with the new fries and now with the gluten free classic fries. Cross contamination? Additional ingredient? I don’t know. I DO know I no longer am a customer at Burger King. I will not take another chance on having these painful symptoms!

    Author:
    Marcia Meade
    Written:


    I have severe allergic reactions to soy oil and MSG. This afternoon I ate three of the new fries at Burger King. My mouth and lips are now swollen, it’s hard to breath and my ears are “beet red”!
    Ii want to know if their “vegetable oil” is soy, or if I now have a NEW allergies. Has anyone else had this problem.

    Author:
    Annie
    Written:


    I noticed the fries were different in Portugal (about a month ago I’d say, but I’m not a regular customer), I never thought I would stumble upon a post just about it. I don’t have any food allergies, or at least that I know of, but I can imagine how complicated it must be for those who have them…

    I was actually searching for information about what kind of frying oil they use, seems that canola oil is present, which after a while makes me sad because it’s the worst option they could choose. I didn’t have a direct opinion from a biologist or doctor, but from all the rumors I’d rather avoid it. The number of times I spend a visit there shouldn’t be enough to make me worry… I think…

    Cheers everyone.

    Author:
    kelly
    Written:


    In early Dec., 2014 , I ate a whopper jr. and a small fry around 8:30pm. By 1:00am, the palms of my hands were so itchy that is woke me from my sleep. After washing my hands and using calamine lotion, I went back to sleep. About an hour later, I woke again, this time with my tongue and chin feeling swollen. Also I began to have chest pains, nausea, sweating, and very lightheaded. Feeling that I was having a heart attack, I call 911 and went to the ER by ambulance.
    After having all the heart tests done: blood work, ultrasound, chest xray, and stress test, the result was that my heart is in great shape. So, after talking with a dietician, the conclusion was made that it was something I ate from BK. Not wanting another huge ER bill, I will never eat at BK again. This may have been a fluke incident, but I really do not want to take that chance again.
    I hope others do not experience this same type of reaction.

    Author:
    Sue kresge
    Written:


    I got BK the other week ,got a bad reaction face got all red and hot .They must have changed something ,I am allergic to soy so they must have switched over to soy oil ,because eat there before and it never bothered me.

    Author:
    bev postel
    Written:


    Went to BK and asked for no salt on my burger or fries. I ate about three fries and 2 bites of my burger and my heart rate immediately went up. I take meds for AFIB but there definitely had to be something in the coating on the fries as I could feel it on my hands. Does anyone know what is in the new coating?

    Author:
    Kay
    Written:


    Burger King’s new fries are terrible! They have a bitter aftertaste and, in my opinion, are very dry in texture. I’ve noticed this aftertaste with a lot of the fast food chain and restaurant fried foods. Sometimes it’s so bad the food isn’t even edible Not sure if it’s from canola oil or what, but it’s just plain nasty. When I want good fries, or fried food, I make them at home.

    Author:
    Cally
    Written:


    I ate 2 junior whoppers, w/0 bread mayo or cheese because i gave allergies. They fry their burgers with soy oil, most regular oils have soy as a base, canola, vegtable, safflower, etc,….i started having trouble breathing,so…. I cannit eat BK. Their meat also seems pretty thick, thicker then Mcd’s and Wendys whom i havient had trouble with…maybe gluten or soy filler. I cannot eat any fries at any restaurants they ALL use soy oils, its cheap!!! Grilled chicken has been fine at Mcd’s and Wendys also good times has been ok for the meat. I always take allergy tablets and nebulizer with me anywhere i eat just in case. Would be nice if they would cook in good oil like olive or coconut or similiar but its too expensive. Maybe someday an all allergy free place will open for people just like us…

    Author:
    John
    Written:


    My esaphogus became constricted and I felt like throwing up for a half an hour after eating a few fries this morning..

    Author:
    Will
    Written:


    In my opinion, cooking in canola oil will ruin any food including french fries. It is not too hard to determine when a restaurant , fast food or any other is frying in canola. It will always have the same awful smell and the food will taste the same with that lingering aftertaste . Most restaurants use it because it’s inexpensive. We can only hope that it will be taken off the market soon. I read somewhere on the Internet that it is produced in Canada and was originally made to lubricate machinery.

    Author:
    Jacquilyn
    Written:


    Does anyone know if the hamburger or the bun have soy? I’m gluten and soy free. Thanks.

    Author:
    Angel
    Written:


    Had to search for an article like this, because I remember reading about all this when they came out. My son recently started working at Burger King, and informed me their hash browns are now also fried in the same fryers as French Fries. Hash Browns contasin wheat flour. I checked their website, and it now verifys that. So it’s no longer a dedicated french fry fryer, it is a dedicated potato fryer.

    Author:
    Mister Johns
    Written:


    I am aware this is a very old thread but the subject happens to have become of concern to me – tonight I went in to a Burger King (have visited may 3 times in my life) for some fries as I was a bit peckish – one small fries later had me literally throwing the contents of my stomach out…I do not think anything was wrong with the fries themselves but am wondering about what they are cooked in…I am a vegetarian and have a non-dairy diet…this is due to medical issues – the only good thing is I only had the small fries instead of the large,thank the Lord – else I would still be heaving and throwing out all kinds of horrid stuff…Jeeez, whatever happened to good old fashioned cooking ?

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