Budlong uses peanut oil — but many students didn’t know

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Budlong uses peanut oil — but many students didn’t know

Budlong Hot Chicken boxes. Budlong uses peanut oil to fry their chicken, something most students didn’t know before Tuesday.

Budlong Hot Chicken boxes. Budlong uses peanut oil to fry their chicken, something most students didn’t know before Tuesday.

Colin Boyle / Daily Senior Staffer

Budlong Hot Chicken boxes. Budlong uses peanut oil to fry their chicken, something most students didn’t know before Tuesday.

Colin Boyle / Daily Senior Staffer

Colin Boyle / Daily Senior Staffer

Budlong Hot Chicken boxes. Budlong uses peanut oil to fry their chicken, something most students didn’t know before Tuesday.

Neya Thanikachalam, Reporter

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The Budlong Hot Chicken, one of the restaurants that opened this fall in Norris University Center, has put signs up stating that their chicken is fried with peanut oil after facing pushback from students.

The signs weren’t put up until Tuesday — prior to that, most students didn’t know about Budlong’s peanut oil usage, concerning many — especially those with nut allergies.

However, Northwestern Dining was aware the chicken is fried with peanut oil, said Compass marketing director Georgene Sardis. Refined peanut oil, though — which Budlong uses — is supposedly safe for people with peanut allergies.

Yet some people still can be at risk for an allergic reaction. According to Food Allergy Research & Education, while most who are allergic to peanuts can eat food fried in refined peanut oil like the type used at Budlong, not everyone is safe.

Bienen freshman Joe Nedder is one of those people — he’s allergic to peanuts and cannot eat food prepared with refined peanut oil either.

“If I were to eat it, I would definitely have a reaction,” he said.

Nedder added he didn’t know Budlong used peanut oil to fry its chicken. This worried him, because he said he was considering buying it for dinner one night.

Jared Leonard, the owner of Budlong, said he chose to fry his chicken in peanut oil because he wanted to produce the best-quality chicken.

Peanut oil is often used to fry foods because it has a high smoke point, allowing for it to be reused multiple times.

“If anybody were to ask ‘What type of oil do you fry in?’ or ‘Do you fry in peanut oil?’ of course we’ll be transparent with that,” Leonard said.

Northwestern Dining also posted a disclosure at the register of the Budlong station that explained peanut oil was being used in the production of the chicken, Sardis said.

“(The disclosure) was probably not in the most visible location, due to the size of the station and the queuing of associates who are ordering and picking up,” she added. “There is high potential for that to be hidden from the guests’ view.”

Nedder said he’s glad Leonard chose to be straightforward, recalling his disappointment after realizing he couldn’t eat at certain food chains because they didn’t specify they used peanut oil. Chick-fil-A, Jimmy John’s and Five Guys are among those establishments that use peanut oil to fry their food.

Northwestern dining halls, on the other hand, have stated that they do not serve peanut or any other tree nut products in their food as they became nut-free this year.

This shift has been a relief for SESP freshman Claire Koster, who is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

She said she believes that while students with allergies need to be proactive and ask about the products used in the cooking process, it’s ultimately the University’s responsibility to clearly notify students that nut products are being served to them — especially since that’s not the case at the dining halls.

“I think it’s definitely a responsibility of the school especially,” Koster said. “I think that’s a sensible, kind of accessible thing for a school to have.”

Email: neyathanikachalam2022@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @neyachalam

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