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gluten-free Options In Gluten-Using Restaurants

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 04:44 PM

With all the talk of cross-contamination on here, am I right in assuming that gluten free options in an otherwise glutonous restaurant are out? Because of cross contamination. Gluten free burger bun option, gluten free pizza base option in the fast food chains and just gluten free options at other places. Even at a breakfast joint, if they offer gluten free bread - how do we know if they are being careful with chopping board, toaster, knife etc.
I cook mostly at home but it's nice to go out and be social now and then.
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Posted 04 October 2012 - 04:49 PM

You have to choose your restaurants wisely, make the right arrangements sometimes, try going at off peak hours so they can pay more attention to your food, inform the maitre d', the manager, the waitperson, whoever, of your needs and how to prepare your food, usually order your food without sauces or dressings (or have oil and vinegar on the side for salads) and I have even been invited back into the kitchen to discuss my needs with the chef (that was with my sister where we both needed special attention). And then you hope. :)
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Caffeine free 1973
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(Mis)diagnosed IBS, fibromyalgia '80's and '90's
Diagnosed psoriatic arthritis 2004
Self-diagnosed gluten intolerant, gluten-free Nov. 2007
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Legume free March 2010
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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:02 AM

I think the way to think about it is that risk is not a yes/no question but a scale.

If you cook in your home and have a totally gluten free house, the risk is very low but if anyone leave your house or visits, opportunities for contamination start to creep in. If humans work in the production of your gluten free ingredients, there is some level of risk.

If you get something gluten free from a business that uses flour directly, you have lots of risk. If all of the flour based products are prepared off site, the risk for their gluten-free options is somewhere in between.

The best you can do is get lots of advice then make informed decisions about what you are being exposed to.
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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:38 AM

As Tim said, you need to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
Any restaurant will almost certainly have something with gluten.

I know of only one restaurant that is 100% gluten-free, Sherry Lynn's in suburban Albany, NY. Sherry is a sensitive celiac.
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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:39 PM

I first search for restaurants with gluten free menus and see what (if anything) they say on their website. Ironically, I feel more comfortable with a restaurant that has some kind of disclaimer about cross contamination, shared fryers, etc. - because at least then I know that they understand that it IS a problem. If the restaurant looks like it might be ok, I call ahead of time and ask about their practices. If I get a 'gluten, what's that?' response, I won't usually go there. Even if it sounds like they know what they're doing, I always ask questions at the restaurant when ordering, too. Do they cook the gluten free pizza in a separate oven? Do they use a different area of the kitchen for gluten free items? And so on.

If a restaurant does a good job, I'm definitely a repeat customer. There's an Indian place that we frequent that has a gluten free menu and does a good job with it. Now they know us when we come in and I feel almost as safe there as at a totally gluten free place.
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Posted 05 October 2012 - 10:23 PM

Well you just never know. We try to find places that cook from scratch and it helps if we can speak to the chef. We also eat a very limited diet when it comes to restaurants. Things like a hamburger patty, maybe a steak. Steaks aren't always safe. Daughter once got one with gravy on it! Who does that? I've been told that they don't know if the seasoning is safe. So sometimes we tell them not to season. Daughter prefers chicken but that isn't always safe. Salads aren't always safe because we will sometimes find croutons in the middle or bottom of the bowl/plate. Plain baked potato. Fresh fruit. If there is hummus we will try to get that with fresh veggies instead of pita.
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