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Which Fast Food Restaurants are Peanut Safe?

When my son was first diagnosed with a peanut allergy I thought I would never eat out again, especially in fast food restaurants. Before doing any research, I remember being of the naive belief that it was no longer safe to eat in restaurants and that my child would need to eat homemade food all the time. After looking into it though, I learned that there are options out there for parents of children with peanut allergies, even in fast food restaurants. Thank goodness, since having a break from cooking once in awhile is a good thing.

While I had previously looked into which restaurants are “peanut safe” a few years back, I thought I would brush-up by calling a few major fast food places to get their official response. Below are my findings, which only include “peanut free” food items and not “nut free” ones. Many allergists recommend staying nut free if there is a diagnosis of peanut free due to cross-contamination.

MCDONALDS
I had a conversation with a customer service rep there (800 244-6227) and she mentioned that McDonalds has a strict policy that foods with allergens must be stored separately from other foods. That being said though, McDonalds does serve products may contain both peanut and peanut oil. The women I spoke with asked that I refer to a document on their website which lists all ingredients for all products (http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/ingredientslist.pdf). Reading this led me to focus on the following 3 products which you should stay away from:

a) Fruit & Walnut Salad: Made with peanut oil and may contain shell parts, peanuts and other tree nuts
b) Sundaes: These include peanuts
c) McFlurry: These include M&M candies which may contain peanuts and are made on the same equipment as peanuts.

While I personally try to limit the amount of fast food my child eats and concentrate on more healthy options, I will say that there is McDonalds a few blocks away from my house and I am ok taking my son there from time to time. We completely avoid all their desserts and get their burgers/fries instead (we specifically request apple slices for the Happy Meal desserts and do not use the caramel dip that goes along with it).

WENDY’S
(Updated 6/2013) The Wendy’s website features a menu which is much more user friendly and includes a dedicated column for all products that contain peanut/tree nuts at the following link (http://www.wendys.com/redesign/wendys/pdf/en_US_nutrition.pdf). As of 6/2013, it appears as though only the salad listed below contains peanuts/tree nuts per the Wendy’s website:
a) Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

BURGER KING
I had a conversation with a customer service rep there (305 378-3535) and she pointed me to the following allergen information link on their website which says that there are NO products which contains peanuts (I was surprised to hear this, but the lady I spoke with verbally confirmed it). Just to be safe though, I still always avoid all their desserts.

http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/pages/IngredientsAndAllergens.pdf

KFC
Their website has the following allergen list (http://www.kfc.com/nutrition/pdf/kfc_allergens_aug10.pdf) which states that the only product containing peanuts is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie Slice.

TACO BELL
Here is the allergen list from their website (http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/allergens) which does not list any items under the “Peanuts” column. The site also specifically contains a footnote that states “Peanuts and tree nuts are not used at Taco Bell restaurants. May be used in common manufacturing plants”.

In summary, your child does not have to feel left out since there are many fast food options to have a peanut-free meal. Please note though that even if a restaurant states that they are 100% peanut free, I still ALWAYS carry an EpiPen wherever I go and NEVER leave the home without it (it is forever glued to my side). Also, please use the information in the company links I’ve provided as only a guide, and always verbally confirm the peanut content of every meal with the server (preferably a manager since most servers are usually unsure).

A common theme I’m found from this research is that you should always be extremely careful about ANY dessert you give your child. This daily stressful concern to provide my son a peanut-safe treat is one of the reasons I decided to start a business that sells delicious 100% peanut free desserts (cookies, cupcakes, candies, etc). It is called Peanut Free Sweet Tooth (http://www.peanutfreesweettooth.com) and I’ve made it a point to offer a wide assortment of products at the best prices so that all children can experience the sweet things in life. Please check us out when you get a chance!!

-Debbie

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10 comments

  1. My son had a reaction at Taco Bell last night after eating their cheesy fiesta potatoes. I immediately knew what kind of oil the potatoes are cooked in due to the reaction. My asking them confirmed that, yes, they use peanut oil to fry their potatoes in.

  2. Ryan – so sorry to hear of your son’s reaction. I hope he is okay. Thank you so much for sharing the information regarding the potatoes.

  3. I recently found out my son has a peanut allergy. We went to burger king for a quick dinner one night and asked what kind of oil they use to fry their food. They told us peanut oil.

  4. Thanks for sharing Heather!

  5. According to the nutritional information charts on the Wendy’s site, they do not use peanuts in anything they offer. Your excellent article seems to suggest that the Oreo Frosty has peanuts, but the information on their site says it does not. Was that a mistake, or do you have reason to believe that the site is wrong?

  6. Bob,

    Thanks for the comment. When the article was originally written, my mention of the oreo frosty was in regards to cross contamination from other frosty’s made in the same area.

    Looking at the updated Wendy’s website, it looks as though there are no longer Frosty’s that contain peanuts or tree nuts.

    In fact, the updated Wendy’s pdf shows that only the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad contains tree nuts.

    More information can be found here:
    http://www.wendys.com/redesign/wendys/pdf/en_US_nutrition.pdf

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  7. BE AWARE THAT MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS HAS A CROSS ALLERGY WITH GMO (GENETICALLY MODIFIED) SOY WHICH IS IN MANY MANY FAST FOODS. THIS IS RELATED TO SHARED PROTEINS WITH PEANUTS IN THE MODIFIED SOY. IT CAN BE “HIDDEN” IN FAST FOODS, ASIAN COOKING, MEXICAN FOODS AS VEGETABLE STARCH, TEXTURED MEAT SUBSTITUENTS ETC. IF YOUR CHILD IS ALLERGIC TO SOY TRACE AMOUNTS CAN CAUSE ANAPHYLAXIS AND EVEN DEATH.
    SEE THIS SITE https://www.foodallergy.org/

  8. Ruth LovettSmith

    Thanks Celeste for sharing that information.

  9. Wendy’s is no longer peanut-free. As of now, they have a Spicy Asian dressing that lists peanut butter as the fifth ingredient. Depending on your comfort level with salad dressing packets stored together, this may pose an issue. Here’s the March 2014 ingredient list. http://www.wendys.com/redesign/wendys/pdf/en_US_nutrition.pdf

  10. Ruth LovettSmith

    Thanks David for sharing this valuable information!

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