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Feb 14, 2011 05:57 AM

Chick-Fil-A and MSG


At long last, I know why everyone raves about Chick Fil A. I've been against ever going there because a) I almost never eat fast food and b) I'm an agnostic. But hey, I eat at In & Out burger when I'm by one, and I was out running around and had no other good options this weekend, so I went.

Wow, delicious sandwich, place is really clean, very salty fries but nice place. Play room for kids, paper hats, etc. I thought, could I have been wrong about this place all these years?

20 mins later I noticed my heart pounding and flushed face, went on for almost 2 hours. I finally put 2 and 2 together after trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I really don't consider myself hyper-sensitive to MSG but that's probably because I largely avoid it, and when it did used to bother me more often, I ate a lot more processed foods. But this was unmistakable. And I read online it's the 2nd seasoning ingredient in the sandwich, after salt. AWFUL. And with hydrogenated oil in the bun, definitely no reason to go back here ever again. No different than any other fast food place if you ask me.

  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. I'm not sure what happened on your end, but was curious to actually check the ingredients --

      Here's what they report at

      Chick-fil-A® Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich Add to Meal Calculator
      Chicken (100% natural whole breast filet, water, seasoning [sugar, salt, dextrose, garlic powder, onion powder, maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract, spice, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, flavor, paprika {color}], seasoning [salt, sugar, spices, and paprika], butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color], rice starch and potassium phosphate), wheat bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, sugar, wheat bran, cracked wheat, yeast, sugar cane syrup, contains less than 2% of the following: wheat gluten, rolled whole wheat, soybean oil, salt, rye meal, dough conditioners [contains one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides and/or diglycerides, calcium peroxide, calcium iodate, DATEM, ethoxylated mono-and diglycerides, azodicarbonamide, enzymes], calcium sulfate, honey, molasses, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, calcium propionate [to retard spoilage]), tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, pickle (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, lactic acid, calcium chloride, alum, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).

      I'm no food scientist, but I'm not seeing hydrogenated oil in the bun nor is MSG the second ingredient in the seasoning list.

      13 Replies
      1. re: jbh11

        Huh, well how about that. I love their sandwiches. jbh11, the ingredients you posted are for the chargrilled sandwich, not the more populat chic fil a sanwhich. The ingredients, from their website, are:

        Chicken (100% natural whole breast filet, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], seasoned coater [enriched bleached flour {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, nonfat milk, leavening {baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate}, spice, soybean oil, color {paprika}], milk wash [water, whole powdered egg and nonfat milk solids], peanut oil [fully refined peanut oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added]), bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: liquid yeast, soybean oil, nonfat milk, salt, wheat gluten, soy flour, dough conditioners [may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, calcium and sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide], soy flour, amylase, yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate], calcium propionate added to retard spoilage, soy lecithin, cornstarch, butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color]), pickle (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, lactic acid, calcium chloride, alum, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).

        I still don't see any hydrogentated oil in the bun, but the MSG is definately there. It certainly won't change my habits, as I don't particularly see anything wrong with MSG (based on Jeffrey Steingarten reasoning), but if you did care, there it is.

        1. re: jbh11

          1. That is the grilled sandwich. I had the fried, which is their classic sandwich.
          2. autolyzed yeast extract is a form of MSG. They disclose this themselves.

          Here is the start of the ingredients list of their chicken sandwich:
          Chicken (100% natural whole breast filet, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika],

          1. re: rockandroller1

            Although I am not sensitive to excess MSG, I like to know when it is in my food. Maybe it is in alot of fast foods? I don't eat fast food often either. I know some of restaurants have a little notation on their menu's somewhere and I think all should do that.

            I have never eaten in chic fil a, because their values offend me.

            1. re: rockandroller1

              I stand corrected. I apparently did pull up the wrong sandwich.
              Good to know. Hadn't even thought about whether fast food had MSG. I've been to many Chinese places that tout no MSG where I've wanted to ask for a quick sprinkle.

              Luckily, my family and I do not have any MSG sensitivities. (I actually keep some in a shaker at home to liven up particularly lame cooking that sometimes emerges under my watch.) And I only get around to Chick Fil A every three or four months.

              1. re: jbh11

                I'm sure a lot of FF has MSG. I just sort of expect it from a place like Mcdonald's with their 500 ingredient "hamburger" patty thing and (formerly) hidden beef tallow in the fries, but you know, chicken sandwich. Seems straightforward. Bread chicken, fry it. Why do we need all this CRAP in the food? The ingredient list is just unreal. Not just for their food, but I just thought for a second I had found something a little higher quality, like In&Out.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  All of our Chick-fil-A stores (California) have had the nutrition information on a giant wall poster near the door.

                  For the plain breaded sandwich, 1410 mg sodium and 6 g sugar is a clue that the ingredients aren't just chicken, lettuce, two pickle slices and a bun.

                  [FWIW: my first experience with CFA was in Virginia, which had Blue Laws, and many, many businesses closed on Sunday, just to give their employees a day off. Nobody , at CFA or other businesses ever was or has been preachy or 'cult-like'... and since you said you 'did a 180 and was ready to become a more regular customer, then the 'cult-like' behavior obviously didn't bother you until you got sick. That's a real contradiction. ]

                  1. re: Cathy

                    Well the ingredient list is really only that long because it includes ingredients for the roll and pickle as well. I don't actually think that the ingredients are really that far off from making it in your house, minus the MSG and convenience egg wash. Chicken, seasonings, seasoned flour, egg wash and oil. Sometimes parenthetical details make thing look far worse than they actually are.

                  2. re: rockandroller1

                    "Mcdonald's with their 500 ingredient "hamburger" patty"

                    You're only off by 497. McDonalds hamburger patty ingredient list:

                    100% USDA inspected beef, Grill seasoning (salt, pepper).

                    1. re: kmcarr

                      Ok, so 500 cows. "USDA inspected" means about as much to me as saying my cat thinks it's ok to eat. Their "inspection" process leaves an awful lot to be desired. But that's another discussion.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I don't see an ingredients list, but I doubt they are using MSG in the food. My complaint was not with regards to nutrition.

              2. "At long last, I know why everyone raves about Chick Fil A. I've been against ever going there because a) I almost never eat fast food and b) I'm an agnostic."
                Just curious, what does your being an agnostic have to do with not dining at Chick-fil-A? I personally go out of my way to eat there and consider it to be one of the best fast food options in my area. You are not going to find a fast food chicken sandwich anywhere that does not contain MSG.

                10 Replies
                1. re: CDouglas

                  Um, their platform is one of being very religious and being very public about it. They only hire people who are religious as well. I don't support the way they do business.

                  It's been awhile since I've eaten a fast food chicken sandwich, but I ate several from other places when I was pregnant and never had the reaction like I did to this sandwich from CFA. Their amounts must be way higher than what others use, is all I can deduce.

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    They ABSOLUTELY do not ask your religion, church, affiliation when you apply for a job. That would be illegal and lawsuits would have been filed for years now.

                    I personally know people who work there who do not attend any church.

                    They are closed on Sunday, even in malls, so that not any worker will ever work more than 6 days in a row and because the Founder thinks that everyone should have a day off. They are allowed to choose to not make money one day a week. There is ZERO religion preached in the stores, to the public or in the workers areas.

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      That is not true that CFA only hires religious people. I'm as non-religious as they come and I did time in a CFA back in the nineties. I was never asked at any time what religion I was, never got preached to, anything. And one good thing about working for CFA is that you know you'll get at least one day a week off. It was a fast food job so it sucked under those circumstances, but religion was never a problem. I don't agree with their politics either but I needed a job and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        Sounds a little wouldn't eat at a kosher or halal resto either?

                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          well, exactly -- I'm wondering how the OP would react at the halal kebab joint in my town, where the male cooks put the change on the counter, because they're not allowed to touch a woman to whom they're not related, and putting the change and the bag on the counter allows them to avoid that.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            that kebab would have to be fan-freakin'-tastic for me to put money on that counter.

                            of course, the openly anti-gay CFA is much easier to avoid, as their food sucks.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              whoa, whoa whoa....this sort of insinuates that pro-gay is the superior/correct ideal. Anti-gay or pro, it shouldn't matter. Do who you want, eat what you want, there is no right or wrong

                              1. re: linguafood

                                For me, it is easy to avoid places that have values that offend me, it is much harder to avoid them when they are secretive about their values. So, I say- be loud about it! Waive that flag...then I can put my money where my mouth is.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  it's a plate on the counter, and the food never touches it...(shrug)

                        2. I guess the good thing - for CFA anyway :) - is that it's been shown that it's a VERY small % of people who have any reaction to MSG. Most who react also react to placebo. So unlike the OP, the rest of us can eat them with only the usual fast food issues. YAY!

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: c oliver

                            Exactly. Unless of course you have a specific agenda you would like to air behind the facade of an actual review:

                            "I've been against ever going there because a) I almost never eat fast food and b) I'm an agnostic."
                            "...the openly anti-gay CFA is much easier to avoid, as their food sucks."

                            You folks still hating on Whole Foods too?

                            1. re: CDouglas

                              Wow. I don't hate anybody. I just don't want to financially support anyone that hates me.

                              I haven't read any post that is "hating" here and I didn't see the OP as having an agenda, other than to complain about the MSG. The fast food comment and agnostic comment was "filler" info on why she hadn't tried it before, IMO.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                THANK YOU sedimental, that is EXACTLY why I mentioned it. Only as background as to why I have never been there before.

                                CH won't let me post links, but there are plenty of stories out there about the behavior of CFA towards non-religious employees. I'm glad for whomever escaped that themselves, but to say it doesn't exist or they are not biased or pushing employees towards being christians is incorrect. And as sed pointed out, that has NOTHING to do with my OP, it's just the reason why I've never been there before now. And if you actually READ my post, you'll see that despite my misgivings about their philosophy, I actually had changed my mind about them during my meal. And then I suffered from the MSG in the food, and that is the reason I won't go back.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Not supporting legislation to change the definition of marriage does not mean anyone hates anyone else.

                                  1. re: Cathy

                                    Again, I am not seeing any post here that is "hating".

                                    1. re: sedimental

                                      You're the one who said "I just don't want to financially support anyone who hates me."

                                      CFA does not hate you or anyone's private life. They do not question anyone's religiousor sexual practices- for employment, for service, for product purchases.

                                      They do not want to support legislation.

                                2. re: CDouglas

                                  FWIW, i tried the CFA crap once, as they opened a new "restaurant" in the area, and were handing out free chicken sandwich coupons.

                                  this was before i was aware of their agenda, but even if i had never heard about their bigotry, i thought that was by far the worst sandwich i've had at a chain restaurant. ever. but hey - thankfully, they don't have to rely on me for their profits. plenty of people here who obviously dig it and don't care where their money is put to use.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    I am tired of Chick-fil-A bashing by flame-throwing posters. How one extrapolates a pro-family agenda to "bigotry" is beyond the pale. They support their beliefs, they do not demonize those who hold other viewpoints, unlike posters such as the one above.

                                    CFA consistently rates high marks from community groups, health food inspectors, taste testers, and kids, albeit for different reasons.

                                    I'm not advocating eating at any FF place regularly, but there are a whole bunch of them that are worse than CFA.

                                    1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                      Well, sorry you're tired of CFA bashing. Unfortunately, in the wonderful world of the interwebs, not every single person will agree with your standpoint.

                                      And if you read my post in its entirety, you would've seen that I thought their food sucked before I knew they were "pro-family" -- which, as we all know, is just a euphemism. Kinda like the KKK is "pro-white".

                              2. Bigotry aside, is MSG simply accent? Can you buy it at the supermarket?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                  I just bought a bag at an Asian market. Intend to try it in all sorts of things. Source of umami.

                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      I use Accent MSG at home. I am not sensitive to it, but it is really salty so I find it hard to really "overuse" it. A little goes a long way! I use it whenever I make an accidentally *blah* tasting pasta salad. It really helps. I would never serve it to anyone -unless I knew they were also not sensitive to it.

                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                        Here's their site:


                                        And also info about how tested and safe it is.