Diabetes is not the same thing. Diabetics can technically eat anything. People seem to think that something horrible will happen to diabetics if we eat sugar. It won't. In fact if we get low blood sugar, we *need* to eat sugar. We do have to be careful with carbs. If I order a burger, I usually order it with no bun. Not only to lower the amount of carbs in the meal but because I can't have dairy or egg. I am almost always afraid of bread or buns in a restaurant for that reason. I do not have to avoid wheat or gluten. I came here when my daughter had to avoid wheat and gluten. But I digress...
What happens to me if I consume too many carbs is that my blood sugar will rise too high. Yes, I have been given a regular soda a time or two when I ordered diet. I even once got a diet drink that tasted of root beer. The waitress said, "Oh yes. I know. The root beer line leaks into the others." That made no sense to me but I'm no expert on how those things work.
Every time I eat in a restaurant, I am taking chances. Not so much with the diabetes because after having it for as many years as I have, I can pretty well determine the carb count of what is on my plate and can decide to eat or not eat all of it. There have been a few exceptions. I tend to order plain, simple food. But before I knew of my food intolerances, something like a quick bread or stuffing did trip me up because I assumed there to be a lot less carbs than there was. In once case, I did go to the restaurant's website and looked up the bread. One tiny piece had about 3 times the amount of carbs that I can safely eat in a meal. Eek! Anyway... I am taking my chances that they won't cross contaminate me or put something in my food that I don't expect. For instance, I was watching a show on TV and the chef put egg in his hamburgers. Something like that would make me really ill.
I did eat at IHop once recently. Had a burger patty with lettuce, tomato and onion. Also some fries. Yes, fries are subject to cross contamination. Not something I wouldl recommend to a celiac unless they know that the fryer is dedicated. But I can also scan the menu to see if they have fried fish or chicken, neither of which I can have. Then there is the egg and dairy that might be in the coating of such things. At any rate, AFAIK, fries have never caused me a problem. Again, not saying they are a good thing for you to order. You'd have to decide that for yourself.
As for the disclaimer, yes. I have seen it before. And I can understand why. I have thought about opening a restaurant for people with allergies. And then I put that thought right out of my mind! It would be next to impossible to make food that would be safe for all people. Sure, I could eliminate the top 8 allergens. That would be easy enough. But I myself have issues with some herbs and spices and other foods like fish and chicken. In fact there was a gluten free restaurant that used to be near here. They sickened my mom and daughter by giving them egg containing foods. The owner was asked about the eggs and told us that the food was egg free. Then after my mom ate the cookie which she was given for free to try the new recipe, the owner ran back and said that oops! It had eggs in it. She sold my daughter a brownie which she ate at home then soon after began throwing up. The next time I was in there, I discovered a self serve freezer/refrigerator case and on it was the ingredient list for the brownies. Sure enough, egg! So I did not feel safe eating there.
We do dine at a few local places that state on the menu to mention food allergies. We know the owners and we do feel safe eating there. But once in a while they even mess up. We got cheese on our bean dip. But I can understand the confusion. When my husband dines with us, he gets angry with me for ordering the dip with no cheese. So I order one with and one without.
As for places like IHOP, I tend to try not to go there. I prefer local places that cook from scratch. Much better chances of getting what I can eat there. I wouldn't necessarily boycott. I can understand why they say what they do, particularly because they have flour containing products in their kitchen. It may well be that they literally can't guarantee that they can make a meal safe for you. But I'd much rather they be up front and say this than to say that your meal will be fine and then serve you pork chops that have been breaded with flour because they are clueless. That has happened to my daughter.