It’s absolutely appalling to me that we have been asking the restaurant chain Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits for their ingredients for over a year, and they refuse to provide any information to us. They have over 600 restaurants and no one has a clue what they are eating. Bojangles’ serves food in some of our schools and won’t even tell the parents or administrators what is in their food, which is just unacceptable.
Thousands of you signed this petition asking Bojangles’ to be transparent about their ingredients and to stop using chicken raised on routine antibiotics. Last week, I joined arms with consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG to deliver our combined petition signatures totaling more that 12,000 to Bojangles’ headquarters in Charlotte. Although we gave Bojangles’ notice that we would be arriving and requested to set up a meeting, Bojangles’ refused to open the door when we arrived, and refused to make any communication with us in person. The following day, they sent us an email and told the press that “conversations with our protein suppliers leave us confident that tremendous progress is being made toward eliminating their use of antibiotics important to human medicine by 2020.”
This is not a strong commitment. Bojangles needs to publish a strong policy on their website to show that they intend to take action.
Bojangles’ also continues to ignore our requests to publish ingredients online for the public.
Yet, our voices have not gone unnoticed! A whistleblower saw our petition and reached out to me wanting to help.
They anonymously sent me complete ingredient lists for many of Bojangles’ most popular menu items…. their cajun chicken, their fries, their mac n’ cheese… and when you see what’s in their “made from scratch” biscuits you’ll be mad. I don’t know anyone using the very controversial additive TBHQ in their homemade biscuits!
I contacted Bojangles’ corporate by email immediately after receiving this list of ingredients and asked them to confirm its authenticity. This is how they replied…
“Unfortunately, I am unable to verify the accuracy of the ingredient information I was sent yesterday. Like most restaurant companies, Bojangles’ does not disclose its ingredients for competitive reasons, but complies fully with all related laws and regulations.”
“Any alleged disclosure of the ingredients in our food by unauthorized third parties should be viewed with tremendous skepticism, and may be in violation of the law.”
~ Brian Little, Bojangles’ Corporate Communications Director, February 21, 2017
The public deserves to know Bojangles’ ingredients so they can make informed decisions about their food.
Most fast food chains do publish their ingredients online for the public and there is no reason for Bojangles’ to not do the same. KFC, McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack In The Box, Taco Bell, Subway, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Domino’s, Carl’s Jr. and Arby’s all publish their ingredients online for the public. Why does Bojangles’ think they are any different? This is the kind of transparency that consumers expect.
There are a growing number of consumers who seek out ingredient information because we are concerned about food additives and their relation to health, or have other allergies and food sensitivities that are not provided on their allergen statement.
Without full ingredient disclosure, consumers are left in the dark.
All of Bojangles’ competitors release ingredients when asked – and it surely seems bizarre that Bojangles’ refuses to release even basic details about what is in their food – and won’t confirm or deny whether the whistleblower’s ingredient list is accurate.
I really appreciate this whistleblower’s incredible courage to reach out. Bojangles’ gives the impression they use better and more authentic ingredients than other chicken restaurants like KFC, but when you see what this whistleblower says they are putting into their food, I think you’ll be surprised.
Will Bojangles’ confirm whether or not the ingredients sent to us from a whistleblower are accurate? If they’re not, why won’t they set the record straight?
And what about those Bo-Berry Biscuits?
The whistleblower let us know that those aren’t even made with real blueberries! They are artificially colored pellets!
Does Bojangles’ REALLY use these ingredients? Here are some of the WORST ones listed…
Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Artificial Trans Fat): The FDA finally banned “partially hydrogenated oils” from our food and companies have until June 2018 to comply. This is a VERY long time coming – because the consumption of artificial trans fat has been strongly correlated an increased risk of heart disease for quite some time and hundreds of processed foods contain this ingredient. The Institute of Medicine says that trans fats have “no known health benefit” and there is no safe level to eat. No safe level! It’s sad that some companies continue to use this harmful ingredient. Listed in: Grilled Chicken Breast, Biscuits, Dirty Rice, Brown Gravy, Mac n’ Cheese, Pork Chop
Cottonseed Oil: This oil is made from a byproduct of the industrial waste from the cotton farming industry, which isn’t a food crop. Despite being one of the most prevalent GMO crops (designed to produce an insecticide), cotton crops still require an intense application of agricultural chemicals and that’s why cotton has been called the “World’s Dirtiest Crop”. Residues from these pesticides can remain in cottonseed oil according to data collected by the FAO/WHO Joint Meetings on Pesticides Residues in Food. If that isn’t bad enough, to extract the oil the cottonseeds are subjected to intensive chemical refining with toxic hexane, bleach, and deodorizers. Listed in: Fries, Grilled Chicken Breast, Biscuits, Brown Gravy, Pork Chop, Fries, Dirty Rice, Cinnamon Pecan Twist, Sweet Potato Fried Pie, Liquid Margarine
TBHQ: This synthetic preservative has been linked to vision disturbances, liver enlargement, childhood behavioral problems, stomach cancer, and most recently, to the rise in food allergies. It’s also banned for use in food in other countries including Japan, and is on the Center For Science in The Public Interest’s list as one of the worst food additives to be avoided. Listed in: Biscuits, Mac n’ Cheese
MSG & Hidden MSG: Besides the additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), the food industry sneaks in other additives – yeast extract and hydrolyzed proteins – that contain free glutamic acid, which is the main component of MSG. These “hidden MSG” additives are purely used to make you crave their food and eat more than you should, and are excitotoxins that are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Listed in: Fries, Dirty Rice, Brown Gravy, White Gravy, Ranch Dressing, Southern Style Chicken Filet, Homestyle Tenders
Caramel Color: There are 4 different types of caramel color used by the food industry and this Bojangles’ ingredient list does not specify which one they may use. Class IV caramel color is the one most commonly used by the food industry. Class IV caramel color is made from ammonia and contains the byproduct 4-MEI, a known cancer risk. Listed in: Fries, Southern Style Chicken Filet, Dirty Rice, Brown Gravy, White Gravy, Honey Mustard Sauce
BHA: This preservative is on EWG’s Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives to avoid and is also banned in other countries. BHA has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor which is also believed to be a carcinogen, causing tumors in animal studies. Listed in: Sausage Patty, Brown Gravy
Monoglycerides and Diglycerides: This emulsifier is a byproduct of oil processing – including partially hydrogenated canola and soybean oils – which contain the same artificial trans fat that is detrimental to our heart health. Listed in: Flour Tortilla (Wraps), Pork Chop, Liquid Margarine, Mac n’ Cheese, Cinnamon Pecan Twist
Artificial Color: The “processed cheese” listed in Bojangles’ Mac n’ Cheese says it contains “artificial color”, but doesn’t specify which specific color is used. At this point I can only presume it is the same artificial yellow dyes that Kraft used to use in their Mac n’ Cheese which is linked to behavioral problems in children and requires a warning label in Europe. Listed in: Mac n’ Cheese
Soybean Oil: One of the most unhealthy oils out there which increases the risk of obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. It’s almost always made from GMO soybeans. When researchers tested GMO soybeans they found that they contain high levels of residues from the herbicide glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) compared to non-GMO soybeans. This is a huge issue, as glyphosate has been linked to cancer and other diseases in many studies – so this is not something I want to be eating and why I avoid GMOs like the plague. Listed in: Biscuits, Fries, Brown Gravy, Grilled Chicken Breast, Pork Chop, Fries, Flour Tortilla (Wraps), Mac n’ Cheese, Liquid Margarine, Cinnamon Pecan Twist, Sweet Potato Fried Pie, Ranch Dressing
Sodium Phosphate: This preservative is so commonly used that if you eat processed food, you likely eat it daily. That doesn’t mean it’s safe. When you eat phosphate additives often, it can lead to excessive levels of phosphate in the blood and puts you at risk of chronic kidney disease, increased mortality, heart disease, and accelerated aging. The EWG also warns that sodium phosphate is an additive to avoid. Listed in: Grilled Chicken Breast, Mac n’ Cheese, Pork Chop
Natural or Artificial Flavors: Any time you see flavors on an ingredient list be aware that you don’t really know what you are eating. According to the EWG, every flavor has their own secret list of up to 100 ingredients, including “synthetic chemicals such as the solvent propylene glycol or the preservative BHA” as well as GMO-derived ingredients. Flavors can also include excitotoxins like MSG that cause your taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food. Listed in: Brown Gravy, White Gravy, Southern Style Chicken Filet, Grilled Chicken Breast, Homestyle Tenders, Mac n’ Cheese, Pork Chop, Liquid Margarine, Cinnamon Pecan Twist, Scrambled Egg, Ranch Dressing, Honey Mustard Sauce
Cellulose: Ground breaking research links this additive to weight gain, inflammation and digestive problems. Listed in: Flour Tortillas (Wraps)
Dextrose or Corn Syrup: These heavily processed forms of sugar are typically made from GMO corn that produces its own insecticide. Listed in: Brown Gravy, Southern Style Chicken Filet, Grilled Chicken Breast, Chicken Supremes, Pork Chop, Fries, Cinnamon Pecan Twist, Sweet Potato Fried Pie, Honey Mustard Sauce
Methyl and Propyl Parabens: These preservatives are endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems. EWG also includes propyl paraben on their Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives to avoid. Listed in: Sweet Potato Fried Pie
Bojangles’ continues to source their chicken from farms who routinely feed their animals antibiotics. Low-level doses of antibiotics are routinely fed to farm animals who are not sick to promote growth and prevent disease. When animals are constantly fed low levels of antibiotics, they become a breeding ground for superbugs (aka antibiotic-resistant bacteria) which are spreading to humans. Antibiotics are becoming far less effective, and some infections that were previously treated easily are now difficult or impossible to treat.
This issue hits home for me personally as my dad was once infected with bacteria that was resistant to antibiotics and very hard to treat. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where antibiotics are no longer effective at treating simple infections, and that prospect is quickly becoming a reality. I’m sure many of you can relate to these fears.
What will Bojangles’ do now? Will they continue to ignore the thousands of us who are asking them to be transparent about their ingredients? Will they publish their complete ingredient list online?
Until Bojangles’ changes their ways, the most effective thing we can do is vote with our dollars by not eating there and choosing to spend our money elsewhere. When we vote with our dollars we not only help strengthen the companies that are doing the right thing by supplying healthy products and sustainably grown food, but we also send a clear message of disapproval to those companies who are putting harmful products into the marketplace. By sending a clear message of what we want, we are actively shaping the world around us.
In the meantime, please share this post and petition with all of your Bojangles’-loving friends!
Consider further action:
- Submit a Bojangles’ customer service contact form. Ask them to publish ingredients and also a firm policy to stop sourcing chicken raised on routine antibiotics.
- Call Bojangles’ corporate office: 1-800-366-9921
- Post a note on the Bojangles’ facebook page
- Tweet to Bojangles‘
February 21, 2017 – Petition Delivery At Bojangles’ With U.S. PIRG
Bojangles’ may not want to change right now, but if they receive enough consumer pressure to change – I know they will like so many other companies have! When we work together, we are very powerful.