Educating the Community

In light of the Damian Cardone fiasco, I thought it was time we revisit the education part of The Gluten Free Life.  One of the most important things that a newly diagnosed Celiac can do is to educate himself/herself on what that really means.  There’s a great deal to learn about what you can and cannot eat, and all the funny names that gluten can hide behind. But, no matter how much you educate yourself, it’s clear that you still have a lot to watch out for.  And, even then, you end up getting gluten’d by people like Damian Cardone.  Which is why your education efforts don’t end with yourself, or even your friends and family.  You’ve got to attempt to educate your entire community.

Let’s start at the beginning.  You’re planning on going out to eat at a local restaurant. Don’t wait until you get to the restaurant to find out if it will be safe for you.  If you can, do it days ahead of time. Not every trip will be scheduled that far in advance, but, try to give yourself at least an hour or two.

  • Start by looking online to see if they have a website.  If they do, see if you can find any information on allergy/dietary needs or (if you’re really lucky) a gluten free menu.
  • If they don’t have any info online, call ahead, before they’re busy and discuss your visit with the chef.  You’ll likely get some wonderful advice on what you can and can’t have while visiting the restaurant.  Avoiding discussing it at the table while everyone else is trying to order will help avoid any annoyance on the part of the wait staff, and the chef.
  • If you have days before the event, offer to stop in and visit with the Chef.  You may be surprised with how many times you’ll get taken up on the offer.

Taking steps to keep yourself safe, while doing it ahead of time, and in a respectful way, can help other celiac sufferers too.  The more positive experiences that chefs have with gluten free diners, the less likely it is that they will develop an attitude towards gluten free diners like that of Damian Cardone.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if the restaurant that you’ll be visiting is one that is local to you and that you will likely be revisiting again, the more important it is to develop a relationship with the chef and staff of that restaurant.  Putting in a little time here and there to help educate them can give you a safe haven dining spot where you know that, not only is the staff attempting to deliver food that is safe for you, but that, because of the education help they’ve received from you, they likely will deliver food that is safe for you.

Additionally, many of the gluten free and celiac organizations offer educational materials and classes to help educate people, and the staff of food service companies like restaurants.

Celiac learning is an offering by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.  They have great courses for both food service professionals and medical professionals.

http://www.celiaclearning.com/

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) also has a wealth of information on their website, including a training/education program specifically for restaurant workers.

http://www.gluten.net/gfrap.php

 

Arby’s as of August 8, 2007

From an email from Arby’s:

Proteins, without bread or buns: roast beef, ham, turkey, corned beef and Grilled Chicken Fillet. [Breaded chicken fillet and tenders and the Diced-Grilled are NOT GF.]
Cheeses, natural and processed.
Peppered bacon.
Baked potatoes only [Plain, or with butter and gluten-free seasonings. About 10% of our restaurants offer baked potatoes.]
Fresh Fruit Cup.
Milkshakes.

I cannot recommend any of the other potato products, though, because, in their cooking at the restaurant, there is the chance they will share fryer-space with wheat flour-based coated items. And then you should be made aware of this: the Curly Fries are coated, and there is gluten added as a part of that formulation and preparation by our supplier. Their preparation in the same oil as that used for Homestyle Fries and Potato Cakes takes out all three as option.”

“If you are aware of our re-designed website, www.arbys.com 20
(http://www.arbys.com/) , then you know it shows something about food allergens or sensitivity agents. You need now only be able to check components of the menu items, and this tactic should work: select nutrition from the cover page; select the category of interest lets use the Arbys Chicken Naturals as an example then select to view the allergen listings and go. Next, beside any specific menu item in a category for example, Chicken Fillet Sandwich Grilled hit the triangle that appears to the left of the name, and see that a component listing displays with an option to look at ingredient statements just wand over that option, and the ingredients appear. Unfortunately, one cannot print from this display. Or, you can look at the dots indicating the presence of major allergens in each component. This nutrition section will show you the ingredient lists for almost all the components of our menu items. On this last point, perhaps you should consult the website to be certain of menu items, such as condiments, being GF.

Not the best of news for Celiac sufferers. A very limited list of Gluten Free items and a longer list of items that could be if they took certain precautions in their preparation.  Unfortunately, they don’t.  It looks like that eliminates Arby’s from most lists of places to eat out.

Carls Jr. or Hardees as of June 26, 2007

While unconfirmed with Carl’s Jr. or Hardees, responses from other Celiacs would indicate that the “Six Dollar Lettuce Wrap” or the “Low Carb Burger” is Gluten Free!   Responses are mixed for the fries, but the consensus says that if the fries are fried in a dedicated fryer, they are GF.

With many of the products here, it is always best to ask the personnel on hand to double check.  We all know what it feels like to eat Gluten by mistake!

Dairy Queen as of June 20, 2007

The following is a response from Dairy Queen International on Gluten Free foods at DQ restaurants.

We know dealing with gluten intolerance can be very
difficult and Dairy 
Queen would like to help you enjoy your favorite
Dairy Queen treats while 
still following a safe diet.  Unfortunately, we do
not have a complete 
list of gluten-free products at this time, but
hopefully the following 
information will be of assistance to you. I have
also included the link to 
our nutrition calculator below, which I might add,
is totally awesome. It 
let's you choose anything and everything and it
gives you all of the 
ingredients in it!

http://www.dairyqueen.com/NCPublic/DQComNutritionCalculator.htm

We are proud to inform you that both our DQ vanilla
and chocolate soft 
serve are gluten-free, in addition to our Arctic
Rush™ slush. 
Additionally the following toppings are gluten-free:

·         Chocolate

·         Hot Fudge

·         Marshmallow

·         Butterscotch

·         Strawberry

You may also want to try our one of our MooLattes®
without whipped topping.

Additionally, our supplier of manufactured novelties
informs us that the 
following items are also gluten-free:

·         DQ® Fudge Bar

·         DQ® Vanilla Orange Bar

·         Dilly® Bar (look for this in a sealed
plastic wrap to ensure it 
is a manufactured Dilly Bar)

If you would like to try one of our famous Blizzard
treats, the following 
is a list of gluten-free Blizzards.

·         Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard

·         Butterfinger® Blizzard

·         Snickers® Blizzard

·         Heath® Blizzard

·         M&M® Blizzard

·         Banana Split Blizzard

·         Hawaiian Blizzard

·         Tropical Blizzard

·         Strawberry Blizzard

·         Mint M&M® Blizzard

Please know many of our Blizzard candies and
toppings contain wheat, rye, 
oats, and/or barley and would not be safe for a
customer with gluten 
intolerance.  As the Blizzard machine is used for
all flavors, 
cross-contamination may occur on any flavor
Blizzard.  So for your safety, 
we recommend notifying the Dairy Queen staff of your
allergy or 
intolerance and requesting they thoroughly clean the
Blizzard machine 
before blending your Blizzard to reduce the risk of
cross-contamination.

From our Brazier food line, I would recommend trying
our Homestyle® and 
GrillBurgers™, or our hot dogs, all prepared with
out a bun.

Certain Dairy Queen restaurants use a soft serve mix
that varies from the 
mix used by restaurants in the rest of the country
and on which this 
information is based.  Please know some Dairy Queen
restaurants also sell 
food that is not the licensed Brazier line of food
products.  This 
information on food products applies only to the
Brazier products served 
by authorized Brazier restaurants.  Please check all
of this information 
regarding food and treats with your local
restaurant.

Please note that as Dairy Queen stores are very busy
and there is always a 
chance of cross contamination of gluten in any DQ
product.  To reduce the 
risk, please mention the nature of your allergy to
the DQ crew member 
before placing your order.

The nutritional Calculator is of particularly good use as you can pick from any item on their menu and it will give you not only the nutritional content like your used to on most packaging, but also the ingredients of each of the components of the item.  Very handy!

It’s also handy to remember that in many cases you can ask them to remove certain ingredients and still get the ice cream you love, just modified for a Celiac’s Gluten Free diet.

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