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Allergin Training Law
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Yesterday I was in Manhattan near Wall Street with my wife's friend and I had a bad experience with a supposedly semi gluten free place. We were walking around at about 10:30 AM and we passed a place called Five Guys. A while back I read that they were supposed to have some gluten-free options. I walked in and it was not open but the staff was standing around talking, they said they would open at 11:00. I decided instead of waiting there or going back that I would ask if they had any gluten-free food. The response: What do you want free? What is gluten? They could barely say gluten. I tried to explain in English then I tried in Spanish and that didn't work so the guy asked me to speak English again and that didn't work. Finally someone that worked there asked if I wanted healthy food. Long before this I was embarrased and angry and wanted to leave. They didn't understand what the heck wheat, barely or malt is in English or Spanish. I said yes, healthy food. They said they don't have that just hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, etc. They said try POM, which is a health drink. They said there might be a store nearby. I said ok and left.

I don't know if this has been brought up before or not but I would like to propose an idea. It is not just because of this incident but many like it. I feel that the Celiac community is too silent on this and that we need to creat more of an awareness. I propose that anyone that opens any type of food store/restaurant has to be trained in allergins and that anyone that works there has to be trained. We should not have to carry around cards in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, etc to explain it to everyone or have to verbally explain it to people who still give some blank stare and ask what.Having our own line of foods is nice but we should also have the option of going into a restaurant and order a gluten-free version of something without needing to explain it to 10 different people. I also make a point of this in asian restaurants in particular. My wife is Korean and when we go out to eat Korean food I almost always have sushi, especially if the waitstaff is looking at us like she is speaking Greek and not Korean to them. They could have a gluten-free soy sauce, that would be a lot better, we also bring gluten-free soy sauce but they already have the sauce on it sometimes if it's meat. Restaurants should also have things labeled as to what allergins are in foods and which can be removed. I don't just say this for gluten-free only I say it for anyone with any problem. Does anyone know of any such initiative by any group or individual?

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I was talking to the manager of our local Smashburger which is not gluten-free. She said that they do not have an allergen menu. If they did, they would train the kitchen staff in it and she would have to make sure they were following the protocols at all times. She said they did not know the ingredients on everything they cook. She isn't being lazy, that is just what that company has chosen to do. I appreciated that she would be honest about this.

Five Guys does list an allergy menu. Some other places do too. But I know that sometimes the people that work in these minimum wage jobs are not interested, unhappy, uneducated, non-English speaking, etc. I think you just have to let it go if you can't make yourself understood. Email the company with your complaint. Some companies will want to fix the problem.

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I would love this!

My parents (in Toronto) went to a restaurant the other day called Joey's. Apparently their menu had little "G"s beside everything on the menu that was gluten-free, "V"s for things that were vegan, etc.

Because they are not gluten-free, they didn't eat anything and test for cc, but at least the menus are labeled clearly.

I'm sorry you had such a rotten experience. I too feel that many "mainstream" restaurants don't cater to gluten-free eaters, but also don't make it clear that they don't. I don't have a problem with a restaurant choosing not to be gluten-free (that's their choice, just like it's my choice to eat there or not) but they can't be wishy-washy about it. Some places will give you the allergen list and say they can accommodate, and then you get glutened. (I like to call that the Casey's Effect.) I would rather a restaurant say "Sorry, we can't guarantee anything" than get glutened.

If you are going to claim gluten-free options, actually do it gluten-free: have space in your kitchen that's separate, and have staff in your kitchen who are trained in allergins and know what gluten-free actually means.

Kareng got it right on: many restaurant employees are untrained or don't have the language capacity to fully understand what's going on, or they simply don't care.

I love the idea of having everyone trained about allergens - agreed, not just gluten, but also shellfish, eggs, milk, nuts, etc etc.

I think, at least for myself, the biggest problem is the confusion in restaurants and the chances for cc because people don't really know what they're doing. :(

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my daughter started working at ruby tuesdays in our town - I'm excited! she has been training all week and I am impressed with this company so far. yesterday they were educated in food allergens! I knew they had gluten free options but am still waiting to hear if they have separate cooking station b/c of cc. if they do, there's a place i'll eat and my waitress will be the most careful one on planet earth :))) she (and another of our daugters) also works at sonic. NOT celiac friendly lol. awesome binge food, though. when hubby needs a good dose of coney dog tots or whatever the krap they are... 'gimme some heart-stopping sauce w/that, would ya?' lol

I wish I had $$ I would open a totally dedicated gluten-free restaurant :) I wonder how far anyone would travel to eat w/o worrying about getting sick? we are 40 miles from the 'city' ...

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Here' a scary restaurant factoid that has nothing to do with gluten. In college, I worked in a pizza place. The county required everyone that worked there to take a 2-3 hr class on health codes and issues in a restaurant. That's great! I had not worked in a restaurant before, so I learned a lot. The scary part is that not all states or counties require any training for restaurant workers.

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I wish I had $$ I would open a totally dedicated gluten-free restaurant :) I wonder how far anyone would travel to eat w/o worrying about getting sick? we are 40 miles from the 'city' ...

I had the same conversation with my boyfriend this week, out of pure frustration - "Let's just open a totally gluten-free restaurant and tell everyone else to #@%^ off!" LOL :P

It would be nice to have more gluten-free options, but I'm happy to say that more and more gluten-free places (or at least gluten-free-friendly places) are opening up in Toronto. I hate having to worry about cc though.

As a side note: anyone in the GTA (or willing to drive) should hit up The Magic Oven. I ate there on the weekend (warily, following a glutening at Casey's) and it was awesome. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable, pretty much their whole menu is gluten-free (or with options, like swapping out the pasta or pizza crust) and the gluten-free food actually tastes like FOOD.

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I ate at a Five Guys outside Media PA and they were wonderful.

They have a dedicated fryer as all they have are FF in peanut oil.

Potatoes are shipped in fresh and cut there each day

They knew about no bun etc. It is my understanding that they assemble the burgers on a counter we can watch and they would use fresh gloves for my order. Buns toasted on one grill and burgers cooked alone.

BUT as we know, each restaurant is only as good as trained employees.

I got a Red Robbin Manager and actually trained him about gluten-free and gave him one of my Thompson cards.

He ordered a set and had them hanging in the kitchen for employees

He even bought some olive oil for me to do FF in as i couldn't use the oil as it had soy. He would cook and watch the pan as the corporate wouldn't let him really use b/c of the high cooking point. Guess there is some risk there so he would do it himself.

So, if you like a place and like the manager and he/she is open to this it can work. I also did this at a neat place in Cape May NJ. They started ordering gluten-free bread after we moved to CA in October

I know that there are allergy guild lines out there but whether or not a establishment follow them is really up for grabs. At least there are many more restaurants and people who are aware of gluten allergies now than when I started this journey 6 years ago. I've seen alot of encouraging progress.

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