Chick-fil-A is rarely cited as a particularly healthy chain. But bowing to pressure from health-conscious consumers and one particularly determined food blogger, the chicken chain is removing some unhealthy and artificial ingredients from its products.
Chick-fil-A has cut yellow dye from its chicken soup recipe, and is currently in the test phase of removing high fructose corn syrup from all dressings and sauces. The company is also working to eliminate artificial ingredients from buns and the preservative TBHQ from its peanut oil.
“We are constantly evaluating and refining our menu to be increasingly healthy, natural and sustainable while keeping the same great taste,” said Chick-fil-A in a statement.
The healthy push seems to have been put on the fast track as a result of the work of one inquisitive food blogger. In July 2011, Vani Hari wrote on her website Foodbabe.com, “There are close to 100 ingredients in a typical Chick-fil-A [sandwich], the majority of them with serious health consequences.” In the following months, Hari continued to cover the artificial and unhealthy ingredients in Chick-fil-A products. As the site's page counts grew, Chick-fil-A began to take note.
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Last October, Chick-fil-A invited Hari to visit company headquarters to talk about new product creation, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, artificial coloring and more. Since the meeting, Chick-fil-A reports that the company has kept in touch with Hari, providing updates on menu changes and recipe adjustments.
“The food industry is not going to change overnight, but we are making some major headway,” wrote Hari, yesterday when news of Chick-fil-A’s recipe revamp broke.
Facing pressure from increasingly health-conscious consumers, restaurants of all kinds have been forced to reexamine their offerings. It’s easier than ever for customers to find out what exactly goes in their food with tools such as New York City’s Department of Health’s MenuStat, which allows users to compare nutritional data for 66 chain restaurants.
Even more importantly for companies, it’s easier for customers to get the word out about unhealthy offerings, through blogs such as FoodBabe, online petitions and social media. Add government involvement, like the recent FDA trans fat ban, and restaurants have no choice but to pay closer attention to their nutritional information.