Thousands of people have signed a petition urging McDonald’s to add gluten-free options to their menu.
Student paramedic Chloe Radzikowski, 22, who launched the petition, cut gluten out her diet in February 2023 after developing an intolerance. She ditched her favorite foods, including everything at McDonald’s – and on night shifts she now can’t go to the drive-thru with the rest of her colleagues.
Chloe started the Change.org petition on Sunday and was surprised to see “every 30 seconds someone else would sign it” – and it now has more than 5,600 supporters. TV personality Megan McKenna had shared the petition to her 2.7 million followers via her Instagram story.
“Every 30 seconds someone else would sign – I couldn’t believe it. Megan McKenna has a gluten-free blog and she put it on her story – that was so surreal and it made a big difference. Last year I was having stomach problems and I went for some tests. My friend suggested not eating gluten and within a few months I lost two stones and it changed my life – I feel so much better,” said Chloe from, from Leigh in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
“But when I’m with my friends and we go for a McDonald’s after a night out I’m just there waiting to go home while they eat. It’s not just about eating, it’s about being with your friends and convenience. Oh my God, I’d do anything for a chicken nugget now. The only way I can describe [what it’s like when I eat gluten] is as the worst period pain you’ve ever had times ten,” she added.
“And then you’re going to the toilet too – I’ve only been sick a few times but honest to God its horrible. You’re lethargic and it lasts for a few days. I’ve been mistaken for being pregnant before,” she continued.
Chloe said on holidays she found McDonald’s in Spain and Italy catered for gluten-free customers.
“Last year in August I went to Lanzarote with my family and we were in a McDonald’s. My mom was like ‘Chloe, look!’ and there was a full gluten-free section. I actually stood in McDonald’s crying. They had like six different burgers with gluten-free bread provided by a brand called Schar. It was the same at Burger King,” said the student, who is studying at the University of Central Lancashire.
Chloe says in the UK she was told she could only have hash browns or fries and that even these were subject to cross-contamination risks. Chloe works part-time as an elderly services officer in Bolton and often has to grab dinner on the go.
“My colleagues all go get food and I’ll just get a drink. Before going gluten-free I would have a cheeseburger meal,” she said.
Chloe also mentions coeliac disease in her petition, an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten. In her ideal world, Chloe wants McDonald’s UK to offer gluten-free options and if not she would like the company to explain its decision.
“I just want the same menu as abroad and to be able to just go to the screen and order. I think I’ve read before that McDonald’s say their kitchens aren’t big enough but they’ve built so many new restaurants and made space for a vegan burger. At least give us answers – they’ve managed to do it in other countries,” she said.
“All restaurant crew are required to complete allergen awareness training, where they learn about legally recognized allergens and the importance of preparing orders that have been customized from our standard menu. We also provide clear allergen labeling for all menu items at the point of ordering, whether that be in a restaurant, at the Drive Thru or when ordering online,” said a spokesperson for McDonald’s.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker