Canadian McDonald’s Restaurants No Longer Nut Free
McDonald’s Canada is adding nuts to the menu, meaning the restaurant chain is now off limits to thousands of Canadians who live with allergies.
The move is a major departure from the company’s longstanding policy of serving nuts in sealed packages, which enabled people with peanut and tree-nut allergies to safely consume many items on the menu. In a statement posted on its website, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. said that as of Tuesday, the company is adding nuts that are not individually packaged to the menu across the country. “All products available at our restaurants may contain or come into contact with peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens,” the statement said. The first item to feature nuts will be a new Skor McFlurry.
The news is sweeping through those in Canada with allergies and thousands have taken to social media to voice their shock and displeasure with the decision.
“McDonald’s has always been our fall-back because we felt safe there,” said Sheila Rusnell-Newton, a Calgary mother whose 15-year-old has severe peanut and tree-nut allergies. “This isn’t just somebody who’s pissed off because my kid can’t eat a Big Mac anymore.”
It’s unclear why the change is being made. In November, the company conducted a pilot project offering Skor McFlurries with unpackaged nuts in two Ontario restaurants.
John Betts, chief executive officer of McDonald’s Canada, said in an interview the chain is responding to growing customer demands for more diverse product offerings with nuts in them. He said McDonald’s in Canada was “pretty unique” among the chain’s other divisions in the past in offering pre-packaged nuts separately.
He said the latest move isn’t a bid to simplify processes as the restaurant chain tests all-day breakfast in Canada. “We’ve had a longstanding commitment to a focus on allergens – that hasn’t changed,” Mr. Betts said. “We’re still communicating to our guests [customers] and making them aware of things they need to be conscious of.”
Ms. Rusnell-Newton said her family often travels to visit relatives or to attend baseball tournaments, and McDonald’s locations were a safe haven. It’s extremely difficult to safely eat out with a family member who has a severe food allergy and the change means one less option to count on, she said.
“It’s a very big thing and unless you live it, there’s no way to explain it to people.”
Research has shown that about 2 per cent of Canadians have peanut allergies and 2.4 per cent have tree-nut allergies.