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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

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Five Guys
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7 posts in this topic

Recently, I went to a Five Guys and Fries.  I let them know at the register of my "allergy".  I actually have Celiac Disease.  I watched, as I usually do, as they cooked and prepared the food.  There was one employee who, for whatever reasons, would not stay in her station.  She was all over the place.  She'd touch the buns and then use the same gloved hands to reach in the bag, pull out the fries and put them in the "dedicated" fryer.  I asked the employee to please change her gloves after touching the buns, which she did, but stopped doing after she thought I wasn't paying attention.  I chose not to eat my meal.

 

Yes, I called Five Guys 1-800 number and spoke with a person there.  I got an e-mail from the general manager (?) who seemed genuinely concerned BUT he's busy with 11 Five Guys and a couple of other entities.  He offered to "send me a gift OR refund the price of my meal if I still had the receipt."  Really?!?  Wow.  No, just train and educate your employees!

 

Here is the response I received from Five Guys on FaceBook:

 

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Hi Julie,

Thanks for reaching out. I'm sorry to hear about your recent experience and I apologize on behalf of the staff at the Morehead City location. Though we wish we could prevent cross contamination, this is possible. When someone writes in to us, we are sure to highlight that our rolls, malt vinegar and fry sauce contain gluten and although we do our best to only toast the rolls on a separate grill, there is always a chance for cross contamination. Our fry sauce is only served in Utah. Our French fries are just potatoes that are soaked in water, then cooked in peanut oil. This fryer is dedicated and nothing else is fried in this oil.

Again, I'm sorry about your recent experience and hope you can give us another chance.

Thanks,

Kenneth

 

As it was pointed out in another thread, fast food restaurants are best left as off limits to those of us with Celiac Disease.  I thought that Five Guys was "different" with their dedicated fryers, but after my experience, I will not take a chance by eating there again. 

 

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I just thought I'd write in with a little counterpoint here. We all have to make our own decisions but what you described is exactly why I am willing to occasionally eat at places like Five Guys. I can watch everything they do and I am not afraid to refuse food or carefully explain why and how I need them to remake it. I have never had to ask for a refund, and while they may grumble about me when I leave I also don't get sick.

Also, Five Guys in particular varies wildly. We have one near us that has someone who declares an allergy alert and they all spring into action freeing one person up to make my meal so that they don't have to keep changing gloves. Another I have to watch like hawk because they have put a bun out for mine. (And I have to get them to replace the foil and change their gloves.. )

Needless to say I reward the good location with my business.. Which results in them getting the business of my friends too usually.

None of this is to blame you for your decision, which I probably would have made in your shoes, but just to provide a counterpoint that not all is necessarily hopeless everywhere and forever. :-)

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I just thought I'd write in with a little counterpoint here. We all have to make our own decisions but what you described is exactly why I am willing to occasionally eat at places like Five Guys. I can watch everything they do and I am not afraid to refuse food or carefully explain why and how I need them to remake it. I have never had to ask for a refund, and while they may grumble about me when I leave I also don't get sick.

Also, Five Guys in particular varies wildly. We have one near us that has someone who declares an allergy alert and they all spring into action freeing one person up to make my meal so that they don't have to keep changing gloves. Another I have to watch like hawk because they have put a bun out for mine. (And I have to get them to replace the foil and change their gloves.. )

Needless to say I reward the good location with my business.. Which results in them getting the business of my friends too usually.

None of this is to blame you for your decision, which I probably would have made in your shoes, but just to provide a counterpoint that not all is necessarily hopeless everywhere and forever. :-)

I understand your counterpoint and that is one of the reasons that I made the conscious decision to eat at Five Guys. Until my most recent experience. In spite of my telling the cashier of my "allergy", in spite of telling the employee doing the cross contaminating, THIS particular Five Guys restaurant employees were obviously not properly educated and/or trained.

And the same person/manager runs 11 more. : (. Which ones and are the employees of those being trained and educated similar to the one I had the bad experience with?

Cross contamination is a big issue for those of us with Celiac disease. And handling the buns (putting them on the grill) and then reaching into the bag of uncooked french fries with the same gloves is a source of cross contamination for the fryer and it's entire contents. It didn't stop there, she wrapped the burgers with buns, handled the condiments and placed the uncooked burgers on their dedicated grill. Everything in the area IS cross contaminated unless it is thoroughly cleaned.

Can fast food chains really be "gluten free"? It seems that some are jumping on the gluten free band wagon without really taking the time to make sure that is actually happening by educating and training employees BEFORE they start working. Also, how can they possibly make sure that employees are actually implementing the education and training while working? All it takes is one untrained employee handling the buns and then putting fries in the fryer.

There is a thread on here about dedicated fryers. Well worth the read.

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No restaurant that is serving gluten containing products can TRULY be gluten free -- there will always be a chance for cross contamination.

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I, too, will stand up for 5Guys. My local one is all I can comment on. When I say "I have a gluten allergy" The person at the front yells "Allergy alert". Every employee changes gloves and only one person touches my food. May I add, I have never had a reaction and have never seen any sign of a bad attitude.

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Five Guys gets mystery shopped quite often, and they pay a firm to do this because they care about quality and certain procedures being followed in ALL of their restaurants. Corporate is legitimately concerned about the customer experience at their restaurants.

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At the risk of bringing grief on my head, I'd like to express an opinion.

 

I'm well aware of the "heebie jeebies" one can get in an eating establishment, bordering on feeling like a panic attack is imminent. Once you get that "unsafe" feeling, and just know that you're gonna get glutened if you eat there, it's impossible to ignore it. 

 

However, for me, I don't think there would be enough gluten molecules transferred from the glove to the entire grease and fries filled fryer to contaminate a few fries. If that's all I was worried about, I'd gladly just minimize my fries intake, in order to enjoy a tasty gluten free cheeseburger. Full disclosure, I'm not super sensitive. So there's that to consider. I have gotten deathly ill several times. So I'm pretty careful, and hardly ever eat out. I am partial to a good burger though.

 

best regards, lm


 

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