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Nonceliac

Restaurant owner in need of help

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Hello all. I have some questions about persons with celiac and also gluten free lifestyles and I thought this would be a good place to get some answers.

I own a busy Indian restaurant and due to the fact that we don't require to thicken our curries with flours, we have a large amount of gluten free dishes available and therefore get a lot of customers with either celiac disease or just people who are living a gluten free lifestyle.

Now, some of our appetizers are fried in a deep fryer. That includes our gluten free pakoras (made with chick pea flour) but also our samosas (made with standard baking flour). 

It was my assumption that we cannot call our pakoras gluten free due to the fact that they are fries in the same fryer that is used to fry the samosas.

The other day I received a call from a customer asking about what we could do gluten free because she is a severe celiac. I mentioned the currys which are gluten free and also mentioned that the pakoras are made gluten free but cooked in the same fryer as the non gluten free samosas. She said that it should be a problem as the oil should be ok.

This confused me as we also have other customers with gluten sensitivity who when I mention this to them, they say they cannot eat the pakoras due to the oil which they are fried in. Now I have someone who says they are a severe celiac and it's fine. 

I guess my questions is, is it ok for them to be fried in the same oil as the celiac customer mentioned?

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No, they and anything that goes in that fryer is contaminated. Gluten proteins can only be destroyed at temps above 500F. IE a self clean function on a oven.

PS anything that comes in contact directly, tongs, cook surface, prepsurface, etc is also a cc issue. If mostly gluten-free with only a few gluten items you might want to take more care and treat the gluten like a biohazard and have a separate kitchen section for it. Also if you use flour......it hangs airborne for hours and cross contaminates everything. 

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Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who claim to be "sensitive" but aren't and make it harder for the real  Celiacs.  

Shared frying oil is a big problem.   Obviously, the gluten isn't destroyed by frying or the food would be burned.  I am sure occasionally, you get a piece of one fried thing in the other fried thing - like a piece of onion ring in your fries.  

Thanks you for making safe food for people like me.

 

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So this person who claimed to be a severe celiac was either lying or not truly because she ate the "contaminated" fried foods and has since returned.

Also, when someone comes in with a allergy, whatever it may be, we take serious efforts to avoid cross contamination.

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1 minute ago, Nonceliac said:

So this person who claimed to be a severe celiac was either lying or not truly because she ate the "contaminated" fried foods and has since returned.

Also, when someone comes in with a allergy, whatever it may be, we take serious efforts to avoid cross contamination.

I have been around here for a few years.... I have seen people insisting they are an extremely sensitive Celiac and are worried about something ridiculous like the sticker on an apple at the grocery - insisting it left a residue of gluten on the apple (it didn't) and they got sick.  Then on another post, mentioning things like eating from shared fryers or drinking beer made with barley malt.  So.... Sorry.  it is hard for you to know.

Some restaurants will put a note on the menu next to the pakoras or fries or tortilla chips  that says gluten free ingredients but shared fryer.

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47 minutes ago, Nonceliac said:

So this person who claimed to be a severe celiac was either lying or not truly because she ate the "contaminated" fried foods and has since returned.

It's possible they were just ignorant about the dangers of cross contamination from shared fryers. There's a lot of people on here who were given no guidance whatsoever by their doctors after diagnosis, just told to avoid gluten. As Ennis says above that's actually harder than it sounds and if you're serious about it requires a level of commitment and some research also.  Your customer may not have done that.

As for returning since, she may have been lucky with the pakora's last time or her reaction may be silent, ie the damage is taking place but she's unaware of it as it's not causing obvious symptoms. Or of course she could be like the people Karen mentions above. I went out with a diagnosed celiac just after I realised I had a serious problem with gluten and he ordered a pint of lager and told me he was ok to have it now because his stomach had healed. Absolute nonsense, but some people are either unable or unwilling to walk the walk.

Thanks for checking by the way and for the efforts you make to treat these issues seriously. You're a credit to your profession. :)

 

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1 hour ago, Ennis_TX said:

No, they and anything that goes in that fryer is contaminated. Gluten proteins can only be destroyed at temps above 500F. IE a self clean function on a oven.

PS anything that comes in contact directly, tongs, cook surface, prepsurface, etc is also a cc issue. If mostly gluten-free with only a few gluten items you might want to take more care and treat the gluten like a biohazard and have a separate kitchen section for it. Also if you use flour......it hangs airborne for hours and cross contaminates everything. 

That is not completely true, Ennis, and it all depends on what kind of cooking they are doing.  I would never eat from a shared bakery because baking is different than cooking and they use flour in just about everything in the shop.  Flour could literally be everywhere.  However, in a restaurant where they cook main meals, the use of flour is limited and usually is used in gravies or some small part of the meal.....not quite the same as a bakery. Flour would not be everywhere, unless they had a flour fight in the kitchen.  ;) 

There are many, many restaurants that do gluten free correctly and it doesn't have to be treated like a biohazard.......that is a bit of a stretch.  It would be more important to know how clean the kitchen is overall and that will tell you if they have good practices in place to prevent cc.  It has been said that if the restroom is clean, then the kitchen most likely would be also. That coming from someone who did inspections for a living so knew what they were talking about. Most good restaurants do not want to gluten their paying guests because that is very bad for business.

In talking to many, many restaurant owners over the years, I have found that the OP's complaint happens very often.  Many people who claim to have Celiac make a big deal about the meal and then ask for the bread. And...they eat the gluten bread like it's not a problem.  I can't tell you how many times I have heard this from waitstaff. So, thank you to the OP for taking the time to ask questions here.....it is much appreciated!

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Thanks for all the responses. We try our best to serve the gluten free and celiac community, your responses are greatly appreciated.

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