Food Trends

Chick-fil-A shuns surprising ingredient from restaurant menus

Chick-fil-A is putting the emphasis on healthy, nutrient dense sides.

Chick-fil-A is putting the emphasis on healthy, nutrient dense sides.  ((C)2012 Patrick Herrera, all rights reserved)

America’s favorite chicken chain is always on the lookout for ways to improve its menu—whether it's adding new dishes or axing unpopular items.

But there’s one ingredient that's pretty common among fast food joints Chick-fil-A says it won’t be using any time soon: iceberg lettuce.

Low in nutritional value and flavor, the light green leafy green has no place on the chain’s signature sandwiches or in its salads, say execs.

"We have a mandate: Never use iceberg lettuce," David Farmer, Chick-fil-A vice president of menu strategy and development, told Business Insider of his test kitchen's strategy.

At Chick-fil-A’s test kitchen in Atlanta, six chefs are constantly on the hunt for new flavors with a particular emphasis on salads and healthy sides. The recently launched “superfood side” with kale and broccolini is one such test kitchen innovation.

Though iceberg has small amounts of vitamins A and K-- and it’s very low in calories-- Farmer says he encourages chefs to experiment with foods that provide more nutritional bang for your buck.

“Our focus over the last couple years has been around health," he says. "We're seeing purchase behavior shift toward healthier items, so we're fully committed to providing more nutritional options for customers."

Much of Farmer’s inspiration comes from frequent trips to New York and exploring the vibrant culinary scene of the Big Apple.

Said the menu strategist, "I travel to New York to check out new concepts and walk around trying food all day long until I can't stand to put anything else in my mouth.”