Vegetarian Complains About Chicken Fat In Rice-A-Roni. Response? Sent Free Recipe For "Prize-Winning Meatloaf"

Jordan writes:

Recently, I discovered that many of Rice-a-roni’s products, even the one’s I assumed to be vegetarian friendly, had meat byproducts in them. Granted, I can expect “Chicken and Broccoli” to have meat byproducts, but I’ve come to discover almost all of them do. Nearly all contain Chicken Fat. I wrote Rice-A-Roni a complaint, which can be found below, with there extremely helpful response! I was very pleased with their Customer Relations department for the time being. They wrote they’d send me a few coupons and such to try out their Kosher line, which can be vegetarian friendly. I just received the coupons in the mail. I opened the enveloped, with three coupons for Quaker Oats products. Here’s the irony. They decided it’d be friendly of them to send a recipe that I could try out with their products. What recipe is sent, do you ask. A recipe for Quaker Oats “Prize-Winning Meatloaf.”

Here is the original complaint Jordan sent Rice-A-Roni:

I recently became aware of your new Natures Way Rice-A-Roni product line. I was pleased with this because of the high reliance upon artificial preservatives in modern foods. Being a vegetarian, Ive never bought the meat flavored rice-a-roni products, and have stuck with items such as mexican style or herbs and butter. The non-meat products were my targeted food groups. I never bothered for a moment to look and see if these contained meat or meat byproducts, until I bought the Natures Way: Italian Cheese and Herbs. Now, I find that this product and the old products I was buying all contain Chicken Fat. Your guidelines specifically request no product suggestion, so I will say that I have an extreme product frustration. As an off-campus college student, I had been eating these for lunches many days of the week. I cannot in good moral conscience continue to eat any of these products until they dont have meat byproducts. If I was seeking the chicken broccoli, beef, or any meat product, I would expect meat. When I buy the others, meat is an extreme distaste, one that has lost me as a customer until chicken fat is removed from the ingredients list.

Here was their response:

RE: Rice-A-Roni Nature’s Way Italian Cheese and Herb , REF.# 026325336A


We’re so sorry that the presence of chicken fat in Rice-A-Roni causes you some concern. We have shared your comments with our Product Development Team for consideration in the future.

We wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about another line of pasta and rice dishes called Near East. While not labeled specifically for vegetarians, the products are labeled for Kosher certification. Some vegetarians find the Kosher labeling helpful in keeping to their dietary preferences.

Kosher Law is based on the Jewish book of the Torah, and precludes the use of meat and dairy products in the same meal. While a product may contain meat and also be Kosher, it must be labeled as containing meat products to prevent accidentally being mixed with dairy. Below is guide to some symbols you can watch for on our packages of Near East.

* The letter “U” enclosed in a circle on the front of a product is the symbol of the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations and indicates the product is Kosher. If it appears by itself, the product contains neither meat nor dairy as defined by Kosher Law.

* If a letter “M” is beside or underneath the circled U, it means that some part of the product contains meat.

* If a letter “D” is beside or underneath the circled U, it means that some part of the product contains dairy.

If you would like to learn more about our Near East products, please visit:

We hope this information is helpful, Jordan. A coupon to try Near East has been sent to you and should arrive within 7-10 business days. We hope you will find a new product to enjoy.

Quaker Consumer Response

That is the kind of customer service that happens when reps are just looking for keywords and then they print off a pre-formulated reply selected from a drop-down menu and include the standard “we’re sorry” package without thinking about what they’re doing. Jordan’s bungled encounter no doubt means Quaker Oats products now leave him with a a bad taste in his mouth. Sending a meatloaf recipe to a vegetarian, that is some delicious irony right there.

(Photo: basykes)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.