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Lisa

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A recent trend (well maybe not a trend) that I am seeing, are restaurants recalling their gluten free menus. People complain when they get sick and the restaurants no longer want to hold that responsibility. I don't' blame them. What once was a gesture of good will toward the Celiac community and those gluten intolerant, now is becoming a liability.

I personally believe that I hold all responsibility at a restaurant regarding what I order and put in my mouth. I am educated as to what I can safely eat and I assume all risk dining outside of my home. Although, when I order with simple, non-demanding specifics, I expect it to be served as it was ordered.

What are your thoughts?

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I like the concept of a gluten free menu, but there is always the concern about cross contamination issue. My biggest thing is asking about ingredients. I spoke to the manager and the owner at a restauruant that opened a few days ago. I asked them if they have anything that was safe for someone who couldn't have anything with gluten, or wheat derivitives. Both were completely clueless, so I asked about ingredients in flavoring and seasoning, they were still clueless. Having a gluten free menu helps the servers, management, and customers decide what is considered gluten free, but you are in a restaurant. There is always a risk for cross contamination. I think it is odd that restaurants are pulling these menus, when you have places like Unos and Boston's spending a lot of money to promote their gluten free pizzas. I can understand restaurants not publicly promoting menus for special diets, but given the number of people with food allergies and special diet restrictions you would think that they would at least attempt to keep this option open. You don't see them pulling their menus for people who want to watch their calories or eat "heart healthy".

Sorry about the rambling, but the main thing is these restaurants have gone out of their way to try to serve us, there will always be a risk for contamination, and there will always be a chance for an accidental mix up. How many times did restaurants get my order wrong before I was diagnosed?

I think that it is not wrong to let a restaurant know if there was an issue, as they should be aware if there was a major problem, but being held "liable"?? I can see liability for an entire room of diners getting food poisining, but not for a one time, one diner issue. Now a restaurant that totes a menu and promotes it, but doesn't follow it, and many people regularly get sick, again, I can see that issue.

I just get frustrated that it takes so little before companies have this knee jerk response, and everyone else suffers because of something a few individuals did.

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I think it really depends on where the restaurant draws the line.

If it's "here's this menu, that's all we're doing"... well, yeah, I'd rather them withdraw the menu. If the staff isn't trained, the menu is kind of worthless to me. I'm just jumping blindly off something I can't see.

If it's "here's the menu, we've trained the staff what this is, that's all we're doing"... I think I'm fine with that, but know that eating there is very much at my own risk. I'm bungee jumping all alone here.

If it's "here's the menu, we regularly remind the staff how to work with this, that's all we're doing"... I'm much more likely to go to the place. It's still my own risk, but I'm bungee jumping with people who have done it once before.

If it's "here's the menu, we regularly remind the staff how to work with this, and we've allocated kitchen space to have room to deal with contamination concerns"... I'm going to advertise the heck out of that place and frequent that place. It's STILL my own risk, but I'm now bungee jumping tandem with experts.

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who has pulled their gluten-free menus?

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I believe that Texas Roadhouse pulled there's in the last year (don't quote me on that).

I find some restaurants (like many probably do) to go above and beyond and others to be totally lazy and inept about it.

For example, 99 has gluten-free menus now online and in the restaurant, and one of the items on the gluten-free is FF's. Sometimes I go or call (for take out) and the manager will say the friolator is dedicated for just gluten-free stuff, then the next time a manager will come on and say "he can't gaurantee someone didn't throw something that's not gluten-free in there..."

I mean consistency? I think I'm about 2 for 5 now, and the 2 times make me wonder if I even got a dedicated friolator, since then I haven't even gone back, I'm sick of them. Don't put on the menu if you can't prepare it gluten-free.

Anyways, that's my rant.

In general I agree with the last post by tarna, places like Outback (as much as I'd love to see THEM get more into fun gluten-free appetizers and/or FF's) and a semi-local (even though they have some other non New England locations) such as Burton's Grill (which do buns/breads/fries/pasta gluten-free) and another place in northern NH called Rafferty's Pub, all those places go through great great strides to ensure everything is prepared gluten-free and their staff (for the most part, Outback does make me nevous sometimes based on some past experiences) are really up to snuff on the whole gluten-free thing.

I mention my nervousness about Outback, one time I did have an pretty bad experience with ordering ribs, first order came ON TOP of FF's, the next came with a dish of carmelized apples leaning against it lol (which it says NOT to order if you are gluten-free), finally after a little pow wow with the manage the third came out PERFECT (after everyone was done eating of course) and free of charge.

Oh well, that's some of my thoughts on the matter, rambled a little off topic but anyways :-) Happy gluten-free eating, and screw lazy restaurants like Applebees that don't even want to try to accomodate us lol.

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I think a lot of the difference comes between restaurants that actually prepare the majority of their food on the premises, versus a place like Applebee's that takes it out of a bag and either cooks it or slaps it on a plate. A long time ago, I asked for something to be left off of a salad at Applebee's, and they replied that they couldn't because it came packaged that way.

I find I definitely stick to places that prepare their food in house, for a number of reasons. But the top two being that it is always fresher and tastes better, and the cook there actually knows and can control what goes into the food.

As to the original issue raised by Momma Goose... I assume the risk, too. There's a difference in my salad coming out with croutons while I have told them not to (that's just downright negligence) to a busy cook/chef forgetting to wash a pan or something because it's not customary for them to do so. It's a tough spot for the restaurants to be in.

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