An anonymous TikTok user, known only as @jlucvss on the video sharing platform, made the bold food waste claim against their employer in late May. The video starts as another food worker at the undisclosed Albuquerque, N.M. establishment shows a large tray filled with cooked chicken nuggets to the camera. They then proceed to throw the unsold product into a trash bin as a Kendrick Lamar song plays in the background.
Despite the video only lasting a few seconds, it has since racked up over 7.4 million views and amassed more than 517,000 likes by shocked viewers. Many stormed to the comments section, appalled at the massive amount of “perfectly fine” food thrown away.
“Give them out for free [what the heck],” one TikToker wrote. “Bro threw out 200$ worth of chicken nuggets,” another guessed.
Some current and former Chick-fil-A employees confirmed that at their locations, food was frequently tossed at the end of the day. “Can confirm. We used to throw out SO much chicken…” one person shared. “Blame corporate not the employees,” another added.
“The amount of food we throw away, and the amount of starving people there are just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s sad,” one person even reflected.
However, despite the outcry at the apparent food waste, several pointed out that food donations are not always practical for a multitude of reasons.
“Chicken that sits too long cannot be given out to the homeless hours later it will get them sick. It’s not a doughnut,” one viewer noted. “‘Give it to the homeless’ that takes time out of their day and more work for them if you’re so [bothered] about it then go do something,” another said in defense of the fast food chain.
One former Chick-fil-A worker claimed even employees are not permitted to take home uneaten food, else they face punishment at work. “I used to work at [Chick-fil-A] and we would get written up if we took food home and didn’t throw it out. They were stingy [as f***] which is why I quit,” they wildly alleged.
Others still pushed back, fervent in their belief the chicken did not need to be wasted.
“All of you saying it goes bad, it was made shortly before closing. You guys think they make them in the morning and just keep them hot?” one boldly claimed. “Bruh chickens didn’t die for this,” another chimed in.
According to the Chick-fil-A website, the company has a food waste reduction program in place known as the Shared Table program. The company instituted the initiative in 2012 to “[bridge] the gap between restaurants with surplus food and community organizations that serve those in need.”
“Today, more than 1,300 Chick-fil-A restaurants take part in the program, which continues to grow each year,” the website said. “After Chick-fil-A Team Members package and send the surplus food, the organizations then are able to incorporate into the meals they serve weekly.”
According to the company site, the franchises taking part in the program have served over “9 million meals to those in need.”
One Chick-fil-A employee in the comments, who appeared to work at a location following the Shared Table protocol, spoke highly of the donation process. “My store has a cooldown process for the chicken that we then bag up in bags specifically to donate to an organization. I’m in [part] responsible for this!”
It was not immediately clear if the undisclosed Albuquerque Chick-fil-A location was a part of the program.
The video also inspired passionate Chick-fil-A fans to film themselves as they watched the chicken nuggets get thrown away. Reactions ranged from tears the food was not given to them to jokes that viewers would be willing to fish the food from the garbage and eat them themselves.
“I want Chick-fil-A nuggets!” one man proclaimed through tears. “They don’t belong in the trash!”
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A told Newsweek they were unable to identify which franchise posted the video, but defended the actions of the employees.
“We’re not able to determine which Chick-fil-A restaurant this is, but can share that each restaurant has high food safety and quality standards, so when food falls outside a certain hold time…it’s no longer safe to donate or serve,” she told Newsweek.
The spokesperson also reiterated that only in instances in which “food still meets our high food safety and quality standard” can it can be donated via the Shared Table program.
Newsweek was unable to immediately get comment from the anonymous TikToker.
Similarly, Dunkin’ Donuts has come under fire for their alleged food waste after an employee uploaded a video of herself throwing away 30 trays of donuts and donut holes into a bin. Chick-fil-A has also made headlines this week after another employee at a separate branch filmed how the chain utilizes a conveyor belt system in larger franchises with double drive-thru lanes. The move was widely criticized online as “lazy” on the part of the chain.