Chili’s backs off autism event after backlash

NEW YORK (AP) — Chili’s is backing away from plans to donate funds to a group that says autism can be triggered by vaccinations, a position that has been widely discredited by the medical community.

To honor National Autism Awareness month, the restaurant chain had planned on donating a portion of its sales to the National Autism Association. On its website, the group says it believes that vaccinations can “trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children.”

The belief that the battery of vaccinations routinely given to infants could lead to autism was spurred by a British study that has since been retracted. Many studies have discredited the link.

On Sunday, Chili’s said on its blog that it was canceling the event based on feedback from its guests.

“We believe autism awareness continues to be an important cause to our guests and team members, and we will find another way to support this worthy effort in the future with again our sole intention being to help families affected by autism,” the post said.

A representative for Brinker International, which owns Chili’s and Maggiano’s and is based in Dallas, did not respond to a request for comment.

A call to the National Autism Association, based in Attleboro Falls, Mass., wasn’t returned.

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