Updated Jan.18, 2017: Changes to the McDonald’s Canada menu are likely to put dining under the golden arches off-limits to most Canadian families with peanut, nut or dairy allergies.
Last year, McDonald’s Canada announced the introduction of a McFlurry product with chocolate M&M’s that “may contain” peanuts, as well as butter and cheese on some grilled sandwiches.
However, McDonald’s Canada confirmed to Allergic Living that its restaurants right across Canada will be introducing a new menu as of January 17, 2017. The menu includes a product that will be served using nuts or peanuts that are no longer individually packaged, as had been the chain’s past practice to avoid food cross-contact.
“The new SKOR McFlurry is the first product that will contain non-packaged peanuts or tree nuts,” Adam Grachnik, external communications manager, said in an email. (SKOR’s chocolate contains both almond and milk ingredients.)
While the fast-food chain previously had kitchen protocols in place to serve non-allergenic food items safely, Grachnik told Allergic Living: “As a result, all products available at our restaurants may contain or come into contact with peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens. That means the possibility exists for cross-contact between nuts and other menu items.”
(He did not comment directly address dairy, but we are in the process of verifying that cross-contact risk.)
Allergists recommend that those with allergies avoid foods that “may contain” specific allergens.
“McDonald’s Canada is constantly evolving our menu and introducing new items and new ingredients,” Grachnik said. “We are making a significant change to our menu and our operational procedures as it relates to allergens.”
An internal memo suggesting this change was first shared on Facebook by the Quebec blog Fighting Allergies (Déjouer les allergies), prompting over 1,400 shares in a few days and hundreds of comments in the Quebec food allergy community alone.
While it does not appear that the new nut product and loose nuts approach are in the plans for U.S. McDonald’s restaurants at this time, Allergic Living is trying to verify the facts with the company. The fast-food chain has recently announced that syrups that contain soy (in addition to milk) are being introduced in some McCafe chocolate-based beverages across the U.S.
McDonald’s has been known for kitchen protocols to avoid cross-contact even though allergens such as dairy, soy and wheat are present. It’s unclear whether that will continue in the U.S.
In Canada, thousands of parents are expressing their disappointment in the McDonald’s changes. On the Fighting Allergies Facebook page, one father wrote: “My four sons and I ate regularly at McDonald’s. I appreciated hugely that we could eat without anxiety as my oldest is allergic to nuts and peanuts. That’s it for us and McDo.”
An allergy mom added: “Yet again, another place where we won’t be able to go.” Others similarly expressed profound disappointment at the new company approach on food allergens by adopting Food Allergy Canada’s #NotLovingIt hashtag.
— Amanda G.Turner (@mandiemoon) January 18, 2017
You serving Skor means to my family- No ice cream after baseball, no nuggets on busy hockey nights, and no pancakes on Sat am's. #NotLovinIt
— kybrennan (@kybrennan) January 18, 2017
— dave hodgkiss (@woodbridgefc) January 17, 2017
— Corrie Adams (@corrie0521) January 17, 2017
— Nicole Dolphin (@denine356) January 18, 2017
“We have a long history of being sensitive to the needs of our guests with food allergies and this time will be no different, which is why we are communicating this important information in restaurant, at the drive-thru, on our website and through our mobile app,” said Grachnik.
For further information, see also www.mcdonalds.ca or contact McDonald’s customer line at 1-888-424-4622.