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.
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