NEW YORK — Chick-fil-A says it’s removing high-fructose corn syrup from its white buns and artificial dyes from its sauces and dressings as part of a push to improve its ingredients.
The fast-food chicken chain says the reformulated buns are being tested in about 200 Georgia locations, while the sauces and dressings will be tested starting early next year. It says it also removed a yellow dye from its chicken soup and that the new recipe should be in all restaurants by the end of this month.
It’s also testing a new peanut oil, with hopes of a rollout early next year.
The changes come after blogger Vani Hari wrote a post in 2011 titled “Chick-fil-A or Chemical Fil-A?” on her site, FoodBabe.com. It noted that the chain’s sandwich had nearly 100 ingredients, including peanut oil with TBHQ, a chemical made from butane. Hari, based in Charlotte, continued writing about Chick-fil-A’s ingredients.
Then last year, the company invited her to its headquarters to spend the day talking with executives.
“They took my concerns and started developing a road map of how to address them,” Hari said. On Wednesday, she said she was notified about the changes in an email from the company.
Ingredients in packaged and fast foods are coming under greater scrutiny as more people look to stick to diets they feel are natural. Last year, for instance, PepsiCo Inc. said it would remove a controversial ingredient from Gatorade in response to customer demand, and Kraft Foods recently confirmed to the AP that it was reformulating select varieties of its macaroni and cheese to remove artificial dyes.
Still, companies typically don’t like publicizing such changes because it could bring unwanted attention over other ingredients or other products. Chick-fil-A, for instance, hasn’t made any announcements about its recently reformulated products.
Jodie Worrell, who works in Chick-fil-A product strategy and development, confirmed the changes in an interview and said the company has been working on improving the ingredients in its foods for several years, starting with the removal of trans fats. High-fructose corn syrup was also recently removed from other dressings.
“We’ve been systemically going through (the menu),” she said.
David Farmer, vice president of product strategy and development, noted that Chick-fil-A would likely keep making changes.
“More and more these days, we’ve become a kind of food culture. People seem to care a lot more about what’s in it, how it’s made and where did it come from,” he said.
Chick-fil-A, based in Atlanta, has more than 1,700 locations in 39 states and Washington, D.C.