When I was four years old, I bit into half of a cashew and had to be immediately rushed to the hospital. For those like me with anaphylactic allergies, coming into contact with an allergen is a serious matter. In about 20 minutes, I can go into complete cardiac arrest without proper help.
McDonald’s is one of those places that I’ve always gone to because it’s there, it’s easy, and it’s safe. The fact that I, among millions of others, now literally risk my life by eating there is quite a turn off.
McDonald’s has gone nuts. By that, I mean they’ve gone the way that so many restaurants have, by becoming an area contaminated by allergens. Because of new items that require them to stock non-packaged nuts — namely, the almonds for the Skor McFlurry — the rest of the menu is now under a warning for potential cross-contamination with allergens.
McDonald’s Canada’s decision to bring unsealed nuts into a once-safe environment will affect millions of people negatively, including myself. In an increasingly accepting society, this policy seems to be moving backward, closing off an entire demographic from the consumer base. Anyone who knows a person with severe allergies, they will understand that this is a big deal for those who have to constantly monitor their food.
For those who may not be able to understand the seriousness of the situation, picture this: you go on a road trip with some friends, and as you are nearing exhaustion you decide to get food. McDonald’s is, of course, the easy option which litters every city. You go in and order a Big Mac and some fries and sit down to eat your glorious meal.
After taking only one bite, you start to feel as if something is stuck in your throat and when you take a drink or cough, it doesn’t stop. Kids from the PlayPlace are screaming, and that’s when you notice it: there are little pieces of Skor bar accidentally in your burger. Mayhem ensues.
This may seem like a far-fetched, dramatic example, but for those who have allergies, it can be a very real nightmare. McDonald’s used to be a safe haven of a fast-food restaurant. Shoving the allergy community out the doors so a few people can enjoy a Skor McFlurry and feel a little more fancy is a poor decision from a business perspective.
Millions of people in North America alone have a nut allergy; the Skor McFlurry is just one item out of of many, and one that is not likely to bring in a comparable number of new customers on its own. In other words, the number of people McDonald’s attracts with this is far less than the number they’re pushing away.
McDonald’s has placed a sign in their stores that clearly outlines the risk of nut contact to their customers. To those with severe allergies like myself, this kind of sign is a frequently-seen ‘NOT WANTED’ sign pointed directly at me. Perhaps that’s the idea – of course I’m glad to have the warning rather than the onset of allergy symptoms – but all the same, it feels awful to be essentially banished from somewhere which for so long has been one of few safe places.
This new policy is disappointing and frustrating. My immune system fights against nuts, and McDonald’s new, “inclusive” policy means I’ll have to stand at odds with the corporation too, as will all of the people who’ve now been excluded.