My son was newly diagnosed with food allergies and the thought of eating out made my heart nearly beat out of my chest. I knew I couldn’t make every single meal at home. I pulled up the Chick-fil-A allergen menu on my phone to find out what he could eat.
Today, there were just so many extracurricular activities. I pulled into Chick-fil-A’s drive-through to get him fed and on his way.
Going out to eat can be really stressful when managing food allergies but a lot of the stress can be mitigated by a well designed food allergy menu. And not all food allergy menus are created equal
The Food Allergy Advisor™ has developed a ranking system to highlight those restaurants that do allergy menus really well… and those that need some work. Here we’ll evaluate how well Chick-fil-A caters to the food allergy community.
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here. For further information please see full Disclaimer.
Table of Contents
The Food Allergy Advisor™Ranking System is Based on Four Major Criteria:
- The Top 9 food allergies friendliness – Does the restaurant provide several options accommodating the Top 9 food allergies?
- The overall confidence ranking for food allergy diners
- The completeness of the food allergy menu
- The intuitiveness of the food allergy menu
Each category of the ranking system is ranked on a scale of zero to five stars. Together, these categories are combined to provide a single overall score.
Chick-fil-A’s Top 9 Food Allergies Friendliness
To rank high in this category there should be a variety of selections across the Top 9 food allergens (tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, egg, milk, shellfish, fish, and sesame). This should be across the menu board (breakfast, salads, entrees, sides, treats).
First of all, it is important to note that Chick-fil-A uses the word “dairy” on their menu rather than using the word “milk.” Honestly, this tripped me up for a second. They are the same, but from a food allergies perspective, the top 9 allergen is milk, so I thought it would be best if they used that word.
When reviewing the breakfast menu, only three breakfast items were noted as dairy free. These items were fruit cups, hash browns, and English muffins accounting for less than 25% of their breakfast menu. So a bit limited.
As for lunch/dinner entrees, recently, Chick-fil-A had an incident where a supplier had changed ingredients in the grilled filets and grilled nuggets. This change affected individuals with a milk allergy.
Chick-fil-A has updated it’s consumers that the diary ingredients have been fully removed from grilled filets and grilled nuggets.
Currently the Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Grilled Nuggets are listed as dairy free.
None of the salads are listed as dairy free.
Buddy Fruits® Apple Sauce, Waffle potato chips, Kale Crunch Side, the Fruit Cup, and the Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato Fries® are dairy friendly sides.
There are no dairy free menu items for treats. None. Zilch!
Overall, dairy free choices are limited at Chick-fil-A.
Egg free breakfast items are : Greek yogurt parfait, buttered biscuit, fruit cups, hash browns, and English muffins.
Based on the allergy menu alone, it was not clear if something like a Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuit would be considered free of egg if the egg was omitted from the sandwich.
Chick-Fil-A® Cool Wrap and Grilled Nuggets are the only egg free entrees listed on Chick-Fil-A’s menu.
Two out of the three salad choices are egg free: the Spicy Southwest Salad and the Market Salad.
Most of Chick-Fil-A’s side options are egg free. The Mac & Cheese, Chicken Noodle Soup, and Chicken Tortilla Soup are NOT safe for those with an egg allergy.
Most of Chick-Fil-A’s treats were also safe for those with an egg allergy. There were two unsafe options: the Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Chocolate Chunk Cookie.
Soy free breakfast items at Chick-fil-A include the English Muffin, Greek Yogurt Parfait, Hash Browns, and Fruit Cup which is less than 30% of breakfast menus are soy free.
At the time of this review, the Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Strips®, Grilled Nuggets, Chick-fil-A® Nuggets, Chick-Fil-A® Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich, and Grilled Chicken Sandwich are soy free menu entrees. There is a good amount of entrees that are soy free at Chick-fil-A.
Soy free salad options: the Cobb Salad and Market Salad. The Spicy Southwest Salad is soy free if no chicken is added to the salad.
Most of Chick-Fil-A’s side options are soy free. The Mac & Cheese, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Chicken Noodle Soup are NOT safe for those with a soy allergy.
More than 50% of the treat options are soy free. Some soy free treat options are the Icedream® Cup, Chocolate Milkshake, Vanilla Milkshake, Strawberry Milkshake, Frosted Coffee, and Frosted Lemonade.
Chick-Fil-A notes that soy oil is not identified as an allergen and that “according to the FDA, highly refined oils, such as soy, are not considered allergenic…”
Wheat free breakfast items include fruit cups, Greek yogurt parfait, and hash browns. This is less than 25% of their breakfast menu. The menu does not clarify if you can get breakfast sandwiches without the wrap, biscuit, or muffin for a wheat free option.
Interestingly, you can click out of the allergy menu and go to “contact us.” then select “FAQs” and then click on “Gluten-free Bun” to read their statement about gluten-free buns. It is important to recognize that gluten free and wheat free are not the same thing.
The Grilled Nuggets are the only wheat free entree.
Two of the three salad options are wheat free: the Spicy Southwest Salad and the Market Salad.
There are a good number of wheat free side items: the Kale Crunch Side, Waffle Potato Chips, Buddy Fruits® Apple Sauce, Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato Fries®, Greek Yogurt Parfait, and fruit cup. However, it is not clear if the Waffle Potato Fries® are fried with other items that contain wheat.
There is a good variety of wheat free treats. Wheat free treat options include the Frosted Lemonade, Frosted Coffee, Strawberry Milkshake, Chocolate Milkshake, Peppermint Chip Milkshake, Vanilla Milkshake and Icedream® Cup.
Tree Nut Allergy
There are plenty of breakfast items that are tree nut free at Chick-fil-A. The only unsafe item listed for a tree nut allergy was the Greek Yogurt Parfait.
All entrees at Chick-fil-A are tree nut free.
Two of the three salad choices are nut free: the Spicy Southwest Salad and Cobb Salad. However, some saldad toppings like harvest granola or roasted nut blend are not safe.
Most sides are tree nut free. The only sides that contains tree nuts are the Greek Yogurt Parfait and the Kale Crunch Side.
All treats are tree nut free.
Chick-fil-A is very clear on their allergy menu that they cook with 100% refined peanut oil. This is an important consideration for an individual with a peanut allergy.
This statement appears on the Chick-fil-A allergen menu: “According to the FDA, highly refined oils, such as highly refined soybean and peanut oil, are not considered major food allergens and therefore are not identified on this list.”
Peanut is not listed for menu items, just for the refined penaut oil used in cooking menu items.
Shellfish is not mentioned on Chick-fil-A’s Allergen menu. From The Food Allergy Advisor™’s viewpoint it would be ideal to list shellfish as an allergen on the allergen menu, even if none of the menu items contain shellfish. This helps to prevent confusion.
Unlike Shellfish, Fish is listed as an allergy on the Chick-fil-A allergen menu despite there being no menu items that contain fish. This makes it much clearer for someone who is dining at Chick-fil-A to feel assured there are no hidden sources of fish in the menu items.
This approach is in stark contrast to peanuts and shellfish which are simply omitted from the allergy menu.
Chick-fil-A is one of the first chain restaruants to mention the 2021, Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act which declares sesame as one of the top nine food allergens in the United States.
You can read more about sesame in another one of my blog posts.
Chick-fil-A notes that the FASTER Act “led to a recipe change for our white bun and multigrain brioche bun to now include sesame as an ingredient. Our flaxseed flour flat bread and Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap have always contained sesame.”
Per the Chick-fil-A app “our gluten-free bun and breakfast menu times do not contain sesame.”
All lunch/dinner sandwich buns at Chick-fil-A contain sesame. If you have a sesame allergy consider ordering the Chick-fil-A Chick-n Strips, Chick-fil-A Nuggets, or Grilled Nuggets.
Chick-fil-A Food Allergen Menu Confidence Ranking
Let’s review The Food Allergy Advisor™ Ranking System for Confidence.
Is there Ambiguity?
The Food Allergy Advisor™ feels that there is some ambiguity on the Chick-fil-A allergen menu. It is unclear if certain menu options such as breakfast sandwiches can be ordered without egg for a safe egg free option.
There is also ambiguity when it comes to the actual allergen menu. The menu lists items vertically and allergens horizontally across the top. Check marks denote the presence of the allergen in the menu item.
It sounds more clear when I write than when you first see it. It takes a second to know what the check mark actually means – it would be helpful if they had a legend that defined what the check marks mean – just to be clear.
The allergy menu omits shellfish – presumably because there are no shellfish allergens in their menu. The menu does list fish even though there are no fish allergens in the menu. This is inconsistent and confusing.
Is there a Mission Statement?
There is no mission statement to address food allergies. A mission statement can go a long way in helping individuals feel that a restaurant takes food allergies seriously.
Are there Personal Touches?
There was the comment: “To see further ingredients, you need to check your location and look at the restaurant’s menu.”
The menu did note that their cooking oils were “highly refined” and, according to the FDA, “are not considered major food allergens”. That at least shows they understand some of the nuances of food allergies.
Has the Menu Been Updated Within Six Months?
There was no date posted on the allergen menu. This leaves the user to assume that the information is correct and up to date.
I know that the menu was recently updated because sesame and peanut have been added to the allergy columns of the “allergens” table.
Are there Clear Cross Contamination Statements
There are many cross contamination statements listed and some of them are very specific.
As mentioned above, Chick-fil-A also explains that according to the FDA, highly refined oils such as soy and peanut oil are not considered major food allergens and not identified as allergens on the allergen menu.
Cross contamination statements not only provide helpful information, but additional insight as to how well a restaurant understands food allergies.
General cross contamination statements also exist on their website.
Chick-fil-A’s Completeness Ranking
Below is The Food Allergy Advisor™ ranking for Completeness of the Chick-Fil-A allergen menu.
Are All Nine Major Allergens Included?
Chick-fil-A does not include the top 9 U.S. allergens on their allergen menu. Chick-Fil-a does not include shellfish on their menu.
Sesame is considered one of the top 9 food allergens in the United States. Chick-Fil-A recently added sesame as an allergy to their allergen menu.
Chick-fil-A is one of the first restaraunts that I have seen list sesame, however, big changes with sesame labeling will take place on January 1st, 2023 due to the FASTER Act.
Are Full Ingredient Lists Available for Menu Items?
Chick-Fil-A has the statement, “to see further ingredients, you need to check your location and look at the restaurant’s menu.” when clicking on ingredients. This makes it difficult to determine actual ingredients in products with ease.
This can be difficult in a post-COVID world where drive-throughs are the new primary means of ordering at many Chick-fil-A restaurants.
Is the Nutrition Information Easy to Compare to the Food Allergy Information
You can not compare nutrition information to food allergy information on the same search tab. You must go out of the food allergy menu to find nutrition information.
Is it Easy to Complete an Online Order within the Food Allergy Section of the Menu?
Chick-fil-A does offer online ordering. It is fairly easy to order menu items from within the food allergen menu. It just requires a simple click.
Chick-fil-A Food Allergen Menu Intuitiveness Ranking
Below is The Food Allergy Advisor™ Ranking System for Intuitiveness.
Is the Chick-fil-A Allergen Menu Easy to Understand
As mentioned above, there could be some confusion when it comes to the checks within the allergen menu. It would be better if the check mark on the chart was defined as “contains allergen.”
Also, the omission of shellfish from the menu and the inclusion of fish on the menu makes it difficult to understand their approach.
Ease of Mobile Access
The mobile Chick-fil-A menu is similar to the desktop version.
One notable comment is that you must scroll to the right on your mobile to see the whole food allergen menu. This may cause the name of the menu item to disappear from visibility when scrolling to see if you have a particular allergen.
Is it Easy to Find Allergy Information on Chick-fil-A’s Website?
It is very easy to find the allergen menu from the Chick-fil-A website.
Easy to Sort
Chick-fil-A’s allergen menu is stagnant. There is no sorting feature.
Is there an Application for Your Phone?
Chick-fil-A has an app with over 2 million users.
The app does have a “Nutrition & Allergens” section where it notes if the menu item contains certain allergens. Interestingly, ingredients are listed on the app. Ingredients are not listed on the PC/mobile version of the menu.
The app offers a fairly intuitive review of allergens.
The Food Allergy Advisor™ Scoring System is for menus in the United States and review is based on the date/time that the food allergy menu was accessed. The Food Allergy Advisor™ will make best efforts to update restaurant scores periodically.
Always check the food allergen menu of the particular restaurant where you will be dining, do not rely on information on this blog post as food menus may change. Check Chick-fil-A’s food allergen menu site for the most updated information.
This post is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as advice.
Global chain supply issues may affect menu items at restaurants Be sure to read individual statements for all restaurants regarding changes in menus/ingredients and their statements regarding cross contamination.
Ranking a restaurant here and/or including a menu item here does not guarantee that the particular restaurant/menu item is safe for your individual needs.
This Website Does Not Provide Medical Advice
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Allergen menus are important for those with food allergies to have a safe dining experience.
The Food Allergy Advisor™ feels that those with a milk or wheat allergy have limited options at Chick-fil-A. Soy free breakfast options could be expanded on as well.
Definitions of the check mark on the food allergen menu should be clearly defined to reduce ambiguity and increase the confidence of the food allergen diner.
Completeness of the allergen menu would be improved if ingredients were listed on the menu (though they are included in the mobile app).
The Food Allergy Advisor™ feels that the Chick-fil-A app was fairly intuitive. Those with food allergies may want to consider downloading the Chick-fil-A app if they frequently dine at Chick-fil-A.
Their omission of shellfish from the food allergy menu while including fish is inconsistent and confusing.
Diners with a sesame or milk allergy need to review the menu for recent updates in labeling.
For the reasons listed The Food Allergy Advisor™ ranks Chick-fil-A with a two and a half out of five for the overall score.
Don’t get left behind. Subscribe to my email list and be the first to know when there is a new review or blog post. The Food Allergy Advisor aims for more talk around food labeling and how it affects the food allergy diner.
Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by Amber DeVore, RD, CSSD, CLT
2 thoughts on “The Chick-fil-A Allergen Menu: Just how Allergy Friendly is it?”
Hi…thanks for this valuable information! My 2 yo grandson has peanut & egg allergy plus he’s a picky eater! We are trying our best to make adjustments. He ate garlic bread and honey wheat bread by Nature’s Own last week and had allergic reaction to honey wheat bread that we end up having to give him his epipen! My dau was hoping he’s not allergic to wheat now bc there’s no known egg in neither one. However, Chic-Fil-A is his favorite and we have no problems with them!
Hi! Thanks for commenting! I hope your grandson is recovering and you get some answers about what caused his reaction!