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angel42

Got Sick From Outback gluten-free Menu

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I went to the outback last night and order a cesar salad, the alice springs chicken and the chocolate thunder. I have been sick since last night but I have no idea why. I was very careful to explain my celiac and they seemed really nice about it. Has this happened to anyone else?

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Yes, it used to happen to me all the time. I think key to not getting sick is to make a HUGE deal out of Celiac. I basically, in nicer words, tell them that if my food isn't gluten free I will be puking all over the place. Not exactly true, but I don't get sick anymore since telling them that. Also, make sure they write gluten free on the ticket in big letters. You may also want to ask them to rinse your beverage glass out before filling it. Explain that you're super sensitive and will get very ill if you come in contact with even a crumb. Give them another chance. In general, Outbacks are usually pretty good with the gluten free stuff. Perhaps try another location? Oh, and make sure you tip well after you leave, that way they'll be extra careful next time you go in. I always tip 30% or more and I don't ever get sick at Outback anymore.

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Yes, but I found part of a crouton in my supposedly gluten-free Caesar salad. My husband talked to the manager at the time and since then we have asked for her and asked her to ensure that it is gluten-free. So even though I had that experience there, it is still one of my most trusted restaurants.

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Outback does not seem to sufficiently educate their general staff (on average - some chains are better at this than others) about contamination. So, you have to remind them about "no croutons anywhere near my food and mix that salad in a clean bowl" and generally be somewhat demanding. But, you know what? You're paying for the service! :) (Note to those on the board who are servers: I do *NOT* advocate being rude or snippy. I used to eat out *all* the time (read "7 days a week") when I was growing up, and we got to know our servers. No server deserves rude and snippy without justification (I've had one or two of those too :P).

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I work at Outback, and I must honestly say that if anyone thinks they will always get a 100% gluten-free meal at a BUSY place that serves gluten food, as well, you are kidding yourself.

HOWEVER, I think it is reasonable to expect that since they offer a gluten-free menu, your meal should usually be safe. If I could give anyone recommendations on how to make sure your meal at Outback is without problems, I would ask to speak to a manager and my #1 rule - don't go during the busiest times! That is when someone may be more likely to grab a loaf of bread, and then grab some cheese to put on your baked potato (just an example)

At the Outback where I work, I write GLUTEN FREE in big letters on any tickets that require such, and also nag the kitchen staff about the particulars ("hey, salads, make sure you spin that salad in a clean bowl - thanks!")

I don't want anyone to be scared off from eating at Outback, as given the few options we have as Celiacs, it is usually safe. But as I said, the opportunity for cross-contamination exists at any restaurant that serves regular (gluten) food, especially at places as busy as Outback. Angel - I hope your experience doesn't keep you from trying Outback again :)

- Lauren

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I am so sorry to hear you got sick at Outback. I only ever order Alice Springs chicken, I never do salads or desserts, I usually have to take some home. I never got sick before but, I know a good friend who lives in the same area as I do and she got sick at Outback when she was out of state.

Just stress to them Gluten Free when ordering. Good Luck next time, hopefully it was just a fluke.

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Oh man, don't even get me started! I got glutened just about every time I ate there until the last time, when I got a waiter who had glutened me a couple of months before and still felt bad about it :huh: He was really serious about it this time around and I got a great meal with no reaction.

They were really busy the last time I got glutened...I mean *really* busy, with a bunch of kids who were going to prom all over the place. So I can totally understand how it happened...but I ordered a chopped blue cheese salad gluten-free and ended up noticing several bites into it that it was full of NOODLES! Yipes! So I had the guy take it back and get one made gluten-free this time, only to get a second salad with noodles! They had obviously just mixed a second salad in the same bowl, because there were fewer noodles but still more than enough to make me sick. Finally they did actually get the salad mixed in a seperate bowl and I got a free dessert out of it (and several weeks of free D, bloating, dizzyness, a rash, brain fog...you know how it goes). Sigh.

My suggestion, like someone else already mentioned, is to make a BIG deal about it....go over again and again that ANY gluten will do you in and maybe insinuate that you could drop dead right there in the restraunt if you get one molocule of wheat, barley or rye in your food. Make sure the server passes this on to the cook, and then go through your food carefully before eating it. When you do get a gluten-free meal there it's wonderful! But it totally depends on how aware the people helping you are.

Maybe you should send the Outback you got glutened at a letter nicely explaining what happened and suggest to them that they meet w/ the servers and cooks and make them very aware of what gluten-free means? I think if they have a gluten-free menu, they should be really working on making sure they can follow through with it if you order from it. I think after my really bad experience there the staff seems more aware of how to make sure you don't get glutened, I was nice about it but the next person might not be!

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I've found that when I go to Outback I need to avoid their salads as I always end up finding a crumb or crumbs from croutons in it. I was told that they keep each salad ingredient in a bin and that the bins can get cross contaminated easily. Also, I always ask for everything without butter and seasoning because I've heard that not all of the butter at their restaurant is gluten free.

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I've found that when I go to Outback I need to avoid their salads as I always end up finding a crumb or crumbs from croutons in it. I was told that they keep each salad ingredient in a bin and that the bins can get cross contaminated easily. Also, I always ask for everything without butter and seasoning because I've heard that not all of the butter at their restaurant is gluten free.

I really appreciate everyone's feedback. People keep mentioning tickets. What are these tickets? Noone gave me a ticket or put anything special on my table. It was a shame I got so sick cuz the food was actually really good. I had a holiday party last night and was still too sick to eat anything. To make it worse the party was out of state and was a two hour drive. I was well enough a day later to make the trip but just barely. I'm sure it would be better next time if I made a big enough deal out of it, but I honestly don't feel like getting sick again. Especially this time of year when there are so many parties and things. I think we all know how lousy it is to be accidentally glutened and be super sick at a party where everyone else is fine.

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Always make sure you order salad with dressing on the side !!!! (Dry)

The bowls they use to toss the salads with have remnants of croutons in them (among other things)

this is one of the biggest CC pitfalls out there.

hope you feel better!

p.s. Also, at Outback - order the food without butter or seasoning. Ask the manager to get you butter on the side from the back. Do not use the butter on the cooking line as it gets touched with 100 utensils.

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I think it varies greatly by location. I've eaten at two locations two times each and of those 4 times, got sick every time. BUT, I have eaten at two other locations multiple times and never gotten sick. The best experience I've had was at the Tupelo, MS location. GREAT staff and manager. He said they spin their gluten free salad orders in a separate spinner, etc. He said every location is supposed to and seemed honestly surprised that I've had issues at any of their locations.

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Just a positive sidenote... We went to Ouback today and I had the chopped bleu cheese salad and the chicken on the barbie as well as some of my husband's Outback Special steak. Yum. Everything was delicious as usual. We ended our meal with the chocolate thunder. I always react within the first few hours and I don't feel a thing, it's been six hours now. :D

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Just a positive sidenote... We went to Ouback today and I had the chopped bleu cheese salad and the chicken on the barbie as well as some of my husband's Outback Special steak. Yum. Everything was delicious as usual. We ended our meal with the chocolate thunder. I always react within the first few hours and I don't feel a thing, it's been six hours now. :D

Guhlia-did you get it without the bleu cheese? Their menu says that the bleu cheese dressing is NOT gluten-free!

I eat at Outback all the time. I used to get sick everytime I had a ceaser salad (but not with house salads with ranch). I called the corp office and found out that there were other things in the ceaser dressing that I was intolerant to (anchovies, hey, I am the only person on the planet that didn't know those were in ceaser). So I am totally good now! In fact, I had Outback tonight, the new crab dip with my gluten-free crackers, the "outback special" steak, baked potato, and house salad with ranch. Y-u-m-m-y!

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Guhlia-did you get it without the bleu cheese? Their menu says that the bleu cheese dressing is NOT gluten-free!

I eat at Outback all the time. I used to get sick everytime I had a ceaser salad (but not with house salads with ranch). I called the corp office and found out that there were other things in the ceaser dressing that I was intolerant to (anchovies, hey, I am the only person on the planet that didn't know those were in ceaser). So I am totally good now! In fact, I had Outback tonight, the new crab dip with my gluten-free crackers, the "outback special" steak, baked potato, and house salad with ranch. Y-u-m-m-y!

The Chopped Bleu Cheese salad doesn't use the bleu cheese dressing which may not be gluten free. Corporate still isn't sure that it's not safe, but the terragon vinegar used in it is suspect. Anyway, the chopped bleu cheese salad has a vinagrette dressing and then is topped with cinnamon pecans and bleu cheese crumbles. It is fabulous.

This is a question for those of you who have been celiac and living a gluten free lifestyle for a long time. Is it a given that you get glutened often? Once a week? Once a month? Less? More?

I'm asking because in some of our discussions, people have indicated that it can take many weeks to fix the damage from just one glutening. If that's true, then how can a celiac honestly expect to maintain any health that way? I agree that a celiac can be just as healthy and maybe even healthier than everyone else IF he or she completely avoids gluten. But if we are constantly going to restaurants and eating food prepared by other people, risking frequent glutenings, then I can't see how we can be healthy.

I would really miss the freedom to go to restaurants and other people's houses. But if it meant the difference between real health and only "sort of" health, then I would have to choose REAL HEALTH. From all the many, many discussions I read on this board, people are getting glutened constantly it seems.

To use a little analogy....If a person chose to eat a little arsenic once a week or so, would we think that was an acceptable practice and likely to produce reasonable health? If we are doing the same thing, even if not on purpose, by ingesting a little gluten once a week, isn't that just as dangerous to us?

Most of us do not eat out very often for fear of contamination. You are correct that it would be dangerous to eat out all the time. I generally try to eat out once a month for my own sanity and I rarely get glutened. I only eat at Outback (my Outback is thoroughly trained and very good at gluten free food prep). I would never dream of eating at someone else's house, though many others would. I just get sick too easily to risk it. You can't always avoid traces of gluten, but you can certainly try your hardest.

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I think it varies greatly by location.

And the server :P

Right now I'm in NJ, but in a week I'm moving and transfering to the Outback in Frederick, MD. If any Celiacs come in, ask for me as your server!

To address angel's question - when I said to make sure your server writes GLUTEN FREE on his/her "ticket" I mean the piece of paper on which they write your order. This gets turned into the kitchen, and if the kitchen staff has been trained properly and is being overseen by a good kitchen manager, the order should be overseen carefully (ie less chance of getting sick)

Another hint from someone who works there - if you can't decide between a baked potato and the mashed potatoes, go for the mash. Or ask that your baked potato be uncut or cut with clean tongs. Your server is not always the one who prepares your food on the tray to bring it out, so whoever is preparing it might not be as clear about the whole gluten-free status.

- Lauren

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Hey... I thought Bleu cheese (and the whole bleu family) was NOT gluten-free??? I'll be really happy to learn that it is?????

Some bleu cheese is safe, some isn't. If you're unsure, call the company. I think Kraft's bleu cheese dressing is gluten free. I think T Marzetti's might be also, but I'm definitely not sure about that one.

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i'm 2.5 years on the gluten-free diet and i am an extremely sensitive celiac. i rarely eat out ANYTHING...I come with my own food 99% of the time. I get so sick that it's not worth it for me to risk it. when i realized I was in control of if I felt good or bad, I made the decision to minimize. I go to weddings, ceremonies, get togethers, etc...I just bring my own food :)

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I went to the outback last night and order a cesar salad, the alice springs chicken and the chocolate thunder. I have been sick since last night but I have no idea why. I was very careful to explain my celiac and they seemed really nice about it. Has this happened to anyone else?

Which outback did you eat at? I was thinking of trying the one in Merrick, ny

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Lauren-

I live in Northern VA. I have gotten sick at every single Outback I've ever gone to (haven't even bothered with the one up here, as I just moved here 2 months ago)...but I might have to come up and visit your Outback when you are working sometime!!!!! :)

Laura

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My daughter and I have never gotten sick at outback. I always get the Alice springs chicken and 2x have gotten the chocolate thunder. I don't get the salad, because I am too afraid they will not mix it ina clean bowl. We go to the one in Coon Rapids MN. Sorry you got sick!

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I've found that when I go to Outback I need to avoid their salads as I always end up finding a crumb or crumbs from croutons in it. I was told that they keep each salad ingredient in a bin and that the bins can get cross contaminated easily. Also, I always ask for everything without butter and seasoning because I've heard that not all of the butter at their restaurant is gluten free.

I'm with you lapetit8. I don't eat the salads and I always order everything without butter. Sometimes my veggies come out with butter (I can see and/or feel it on there) and I send it back immediately. The butter at my local Outback has spices in it that are not gluten free. They do have plain butter, but you have to ask for it on the side. Overall, they've been great!

S

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My daughter and I have never gotten sick at outback. I always get the Alice springs chicken and 2x have gotten the chocolate thunder. I don't get the salad, because I am too afraid they will not mix it ina clean bowl. We go to the one in Coon Rapids MN. Sorry you got sick!

Becky, order the salad "Dressing on te side" and you will not have to worry about cross contamination.

Also, order the baked potato "unopened" - soemtimes, they use the closest utensil to slice open a baked potato - even if it was a bread knife.

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Lauren-

I live in Northern VA. I have gotten sick at every single Outback I've ever gone to (haven't even bothered with the one up here, as I just moved here 2 months ago)...but I might have to come up and visit your Outback when you are working sometime!!!!! :)

Laura

Oh boy, no pressure Laura! ;)

Also - broncobux is right about the baked potato. Good general rule, I think. I would order mine unopened, just as a "better safe than sorry" precaution, even at Outback.

- Lauren

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