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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Chain Restaurants Expanding Gluten-free Menus

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 05/16/2014 - More than half of U.S. chain restaurants plan to expand their gluten-free menus in the next year, according to a national menu price survey by restaurant supply-chain co-op SpenDifference.

    "Operators recognize that a growing number of customers have health-related dietary restrictions, and they are revamping their menus to include choices for them, as well as for those who simply want more healthful choices,” said SpenDifference president and CEO Maryanne Rose.

    Currently, 55 percent of restaurants surveyed serve gluten-free menu items. According to the new survey, the majority of those businesses will be expanding that selection in the coming year.

    The survey supports projections that indicate that the demand for gluten-free menu items “will be with us for a long time," said Rose.

    The findings are included in SpenDifference's third menu price survey, which for the first time asked chain-restaurant operators about their plans to offer more healthful menu options.

    Read more at: Fastcasual.com.


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    Not much to this article, and the link for more doesn't go anywhere. I think that its getting dangerous that so many restaurants are offering gluten free items. Do they really know what it means? Are they taking steps to prevent cross-contamination? It's nice that Subway and other places like pizza places are offering gluten free, but I don't think they are very concerned with cross contamination at all. These two types of establishments pull toppings and condiments from bins that are cross contaminated with gluten. Example: A Subway worker handles their standard bread rolls and reaches into the toppings bins to make a standard sandwich. For gluten free orders, that worker washes their hands, puts on clean gloves, and reaches into the same bins to top your sandwich. At least they are doing it all in front of you. When a restaurant prepares food out of sight in a kitchen, you have no idea if they are taking any precautions at all. I hope that everyone understands that you will ALWAYS get some level of cross contamination when you eat at a restaurant, unless their menu is entirely gluten free.

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    Not much to this article, and the link for more doesn't go anywhere. I think that its getting dangerous that so many restaurants are offering gluten free items. Do they really know what it means? Are they taking steps to prevent cross-contamination? It's nice that Subway and other places like pizza places are offering gluten free, but I don't think they are very concerned with cross contamination at all. These two types of establishments pull toppings and condiments from bins that are cross contaminated with gluten. Example: A Subway worker handles their standard bread rolls and reaches into the toppings bins to make a standard sandwich. For gluten free orders, that worker washes their hands, puts on clean gloves, and reaches into the same bins to top your sandwich. At least they are doing it all in front of you. When a restaurant prepares food out of sight in a kitchen, you have no idea if they are taking any precautions at all. I hope that everyone understands that you will ALWAYS get some level of cross contamination when you eat at a restaurant, unless their menu is entirely gluten free.

    I couldn't agree more with Steve's comments...on a recent trip to McDonald's , not my choice, but my 4 year old Granddaughter's, I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, and when it was brought to me, it had a breaded chicken on top, and when I informed the girl of the error, she went to the food counter and told them it was to be a grilled chicken not breaded, they proceeded to take it off and replace it with the grilled...totally contaminating the salad...total lack of concern when I explained to the girl that I would still not be able to eat it , and why-- I think a lot of it comes down to the owners and educating employees of what it means and how sick you can make a person. I normally bring my own food when I eat out, just to avoid any problems.

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    I also agree with Steve and Vicki. If the employees do not understand about cross- contamination then I think that the restaurant should not be able to claim that they offer gluten free options.

    Don't get me wrong. I'd love to have someone else cooking for me but I usually regret it after the fact.

    Hopefully we can educate more people then our chances of eating out as a celiac will be less of a game of Russian roulette.

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    I couldn't agree more with Steve's comments...on a recent trip to McDonald's , not my choice, but my 4 year old Granddaughter's, I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, and when it was brought to me, it had a breaded chicken on top, and when I informed the girl of the error, she went to the food counter and told them it was to be a grilled chicken not breaded, they proceeded to take it off and replace it with the grilled...totally contaminating the salad...total lack of concern when I explained to the girl that I would still not be able to eat it , and why-- I think a lot of it comes down to the owners and educating employees of what it means and how sick you can make a person. I normally bring my own food when I eat out, just to avoid any problems.

    To my knowledge, the grilled chicken at McDonalds is NOT

    gluten free.

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    This is to Vicki above...if you read McDonald's ingredients, it doesn't matter if they used grilled or breaded chicken to ruin your salad, either way you would have gotten glutened as McDonald's "grilled chicken breast" has WHEAT as one of the ingredients (fillers).

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    Not much to this article, and the link for more doesn't go anywhere. I think that its getting dangerous that so many restaurants are offering gluten free items. Do they really know what it means? Are they taking steps to prevent cross-contamination? It's nice that Subway and other places like pizza places are offering gluten free, but I don't think they are very concerned with cross contamination at all. These two types of establishments pull toppings and condiments from bins that are cross contaminated with gluten. Example: A Subway worker handles their standard bread rolls and reaches into the toppings bins to make a standard sandwich. For gluten free orders, that worker washes their hands, puts on clean gloves, and reaches into the same bins to top your sandwich. At least they are doing it all in front of you. When a restaurant prepares food out of sight in a kitchen, you have no idea if they are taking any precautions at all. I hope that everyone understands that you will ALWAYS get some level of cross contamination when you eat at a restaurant, unless their menu is entirely gluten free.

    OK, the link works now.

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    I personally do not trust restaurants as they have no idea about cross contamination. It is easier to take my own or eat before I leave home.

    I agree with Donna. So much easier to eat at home. People just don't understand what happens when a celiac eats gluten. My mother, RIP, would get ill within minutes of having eaten the slightest bit of gluten. It was just horrible for her.

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    Not much to this article, and the link for more doesn't go anywhere. I think that its getting dangerous that so many restaurants are offering gluten free items. Do they really know what it means? Are they taking steps to prevent cross-contamination? It's nice that Subway and other places like pizza places are offering gluten free, but I don't think they are very concerned with cross contamination at all. These two types of establishments pull toppings and condiments from bins that are cross contaminated with gluten. Example: A Subway worker handles their standard bread rolls and reaches into the toppings bins to make a standard sandwich. For gluten free orders, that worker washes their hands, puts on clean gloves, and reaches into the same bins to top your sandwich. At least they are doing it all in front of you. When a restaurant prepares food out of sight in a kitchen, you have no idea if they are taking any precautions at all. I hope that everyone understands that you will ALWAYS get some level of cross contamination when you eat at a restaurant, unless their menu is entirely gluten free.

    I totally agree. I am very happy that more and more people are finally being diagnosed with celiac and realizing that they are gluten sensitive. The difference in food choices now and 12 years ago is unbelievable. The problem, however, is that as it becomes more "popular" people are trying to cash in on it and are looking at gluten allergies rather than celiac and not worrying about cross-contamination. Unfortunately, when eating out you can only be so careful and ask so many questions. The give and take is that there used to be less options but you could feel very comfortable about the options because they clearly knew what celiac was, but now there are more options but are much less trustworthy because people are just sticking "gluten free" on it if there are no gluten ingredients regardless of cross contamination.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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