Today I’m launching a petition asking the restaurant chain Bojangles’ Famous Chicken & Biscuits to: (1) formally prohibit the routine use of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in the production of their meat, with a concrete policy and timeline, and to (2) publish their complete ingredient list online. Here’s why…
Last summer, I volunteered at a local elementary school and noticed that they were serving Bojangles’ for breakfast. I asked the school administrators if they knew what was in Bojangles’ food or if they had an ingredient list that they could share with me – and they told me they didn’t know the ingredients. Hundreds of kids were eating it, but no one had any idea what was in it. How does this happen? I asked myself.
Well, if you know me… this drove me crazy! That is when this investigation and petition were born.
I grew up eating Bojangles’ and they have a really large presence here in Charlotte. You see their advertising everywhere – sporting events, local charities, and schools! I used to eat it every Friday in high school when seniors were allowed to leave the school campus for lunch. I’d get everything – the fries, the sweet iced tea, and that famous fried chicken! Obviously, I didn’t know or care about what I was eating back then – but given the health crisis we face in this country (especially here in the south), if we are going to make good informed decisions about what we are eating – we need to know what’s in our food!
My team started working on this investigation about a year ago by simply contacting Bojangles’ customer service and asking about the ingredients in their food.
We initially reached out to Bojangles’ via their contact form to ask for ingredients in some menu items and didn’t receive responses. We tried this several times and received absolutely nothing back from them which seemed somewhat strange from a customer service standpoint. When we followed up with phone calls, the customer service agents told us they didn’t have any ingredient lists and couldn’t provide any information, but that they would ask someone from corporate to call us back. They never called or emailed us back – not a peep!
One thing I really want to know… are Bojangles’ biscuits really made “from scratch” with the “freshest ingredients”?
In a news release Bojangles’ says, “I can’t give away all of our secrets, but I can say that we start every batch of biscuits with the freshest ingredients. It’s what our customers expect and deserve”.
They’ve always claimed to make their biscuits “from scratch” and this is something that they are famous for. When I hear the words “from scratch”, I tend to believe that means that they’re made from ingredients that are typically used in the kitchen – no chemical additives and ingredients that you’d expect in biscuits like flour, butter, and milk. On the other hand, I also know that most restaurants – especially fast food restaurants – are notorious for taking shortcuts and add all kinds of synthetic chemicals like preservatives, MSG, artificial flavors, and colors to their food. For example, KFC lists the ingredients for their biscuits online and they are filled with partially hydrogenated soy and cottonseed oils, DATEM, natural and artificial flavors, and TBHQ. KFC also adds MSG to their chicken.
When Bojangles’ refuses to share their ingredients, I can’t help but be skeptical and wonder if they are using ingredients like these too!
We did eventually uncover one ingredient in Bojangles’ chicken – and it’s a biggie!
In a last ditch effort, we contacted a Bojangles’ regional office (Tands, Inc. Bojangles’) and received an email back from their Area Supervisor with some very interesting information.
We asked what type of oil they use in their fryers as this is used to cook a number of their items like their chicken, fries, country-fried steak and the cajun filet. The representative stated they use All Fry ZT (Blended Liquid Shortening Made from Canola Oil and Beef Fat) in their fryers.
What else do we know about the food at Bojangles’?
Until they agree to disclose ingredients, we are pretty much in the dark. A Bojangles’ allergen statement from 2013 found online indicates there is soy in their biscuits, which could mean that they use soybean oil instead of butter (but we won’t know for sure until they stop hiding their ingredients).
Soybean oil is 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 in many studies – so this is not something I want to be eating and why I avoid GMOs like the plague.
Bojangles’ apparently uses MSG too. According to their 2013 allergen statement, MSG is in all of their kids meals. It also shows that MSG is added to their seasoned fries, green beans, dirty rice, country-fried steak, ranch sauce, and blue cheese salad dressing.
Bojangles’ needs to tell us what’s in their food NOW.
Providing customers with full and transparent ingredient information shows that Bojangles’ is a trustworthy company that is proud of their products. Besides, there are a growing number of consumers that are seeking 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 and this is preventing them from eating at Bojangles’. Most competitors release ingredients when asked – and it surely seems bizarre that Bojangles’ refuses to release even minute details about what is in their food. But, it doesn’t end there.
Besides refusing to tell us what’s in their food, Bojangles’ does not have an antibiotics-use policy for the raising of their meat.
Almost all chickens raised in factory farms are routinely fed antibiotics, day in and day out. This practice should be stopped and here’s why:
- Antibiotics are being routinely fed to farm animals – not to treat diseases – but to fatten them up and make them grow bigger on less food.
- The vast majority of antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to farm animals and the amount continues to rise.
- This misuse of antibiotics is creating superbugs that could threaten the entire human population. When animals are constantly fed low levels of antibiotics, they become a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can spread to humans.
- We now have bacterial infections that only a few years ago could be cured and are now not responsive to any known antibiotics. Thousands of people are dying every year and experts believe it’s going to get worse.
The overuse of antibiotics is one of the most pressing health issues of our time.
I personally reached out to Ken Scott, the Director of Quality Assurance at Bojangles’ (and cc’d the CEO), last December and asked him to provide me with their ingredient list and their policy on antibiotics in the production of their meat.
And, was told that many of their menu items are “proprietary” and that they couldn’t make that information available:
I pressed for more information, especially since all major fast food chains publish their ingredients online and my question about antibiotics was ignored:
Almost an entire year has gone by now and nothing has changed.
As I did with McDonalds, Subway, In-N-Out Burger and KFC, I joined several consumer interest groups to formally ask Bojangles’ to prohibit the routine use of antibiotics in the raising of their meat. We sent a letter on April 29th, 2016 to ask for these changes.
Our collective activism has worked in the past and we hope that it will again this time.
What happens next? Here’s what you can do!
When we work together, we have been able to move mountains. You can join us by asking Bojangles’ to improve their practices.
Make Your Voice Heard: Sign The Petition!
You are joining over 10,012 supporters to make this happen!
After you are done signing, consider further action:
- Post a note on the Bojangles’ facebook page
- Tweet to Bojangles‘ (Use the hashtag #BoSaveAbx and #WhatTheCluck).
- Submit an Bojangles’ customer service contact form
- Call Bojangles corporate office’: 1-800-366-9921
Please share this post with your friends and family. The more pressure the faster we change Bojangles for the better.
If anyone shames you for posting about this on social media or attacks you for taking a stand, please read this post on what to do here and share it!