This is either a story of good intentions gone bad. Or it’s a story of a BS move by a large gluten-free company.
I will let you be the judge.
This story starts in the Summer of 2014 with the following announcement from Smashburger:
“Smashburger Announces New National Partnership with Udi’s Gluten Free”
They even had an official press release and everything!! (yes…that is sarcasm).
If you are not familiar with Smashburger, they are a “high end” burger joint. They currently have 300 restaurants in 32 states, with some locations overseas as well. So they are no small potatoes.
And we all know who Udi’s is. They are the company that continues to give us bread like this:
So when a major franchise partners with a major gluten-free company, you would think they would be doing it for those who NEED to be gluten-free, right?
I mean, why make a big fuss about it if you are only going to do it half-ass?
Why spend all the time and resources if you are strictly marketing to the fad dieters?
I think you see where this is going (and if not, maybe it’s time to grab that second cup of coffee.)
I received the following email the other day:
Unfortunately, when I asked my standard cross-contamination questions, it turned out I could not have ANYTHING that could be served on an Udi’s bun. Not only are all of their burgers made on a shared griddle with grilled cheese, but they toast the Udi’s buns in the same toaster they use for their regular buns. I’m not really angry at Smashburger (it’s fast food, so I don’t expect much), but I’m so tired of “gluten free” not really meaning gluten free, and it bothers me that Udi’s entered into a partnership with them and is willing to let them advertise that when they are not taking ANY precautions to make the food safe. I mean, Pizza Hut takes it more seriously (though I still wouldn’t eat there).
I always had the impression that Udi’s actually cared about making safe gluten free food, so I kind of expected better. I’d be curious to hear what you think – am I just totally wrong to trust the Udi’s brand?
What do I think? I think it sucks. It’s not like they are even trying to keep it safe for us. So what’s the point? Why have gluten-free rolls if the people who NEED gluten-free rolls cannot eat the gluten-free rolls.
A$ I read the Pre$$ Relea$e from $mashburger, it became cry$tal clear. Take a look at $ome of these gem$.
While Udi’s may be affordable, offer a wide range of products, and hit the occasional home run, “great tasting” and “high-quality” are not the first two phrases that come to mind for me.
Practicing?? Emerging trend??? Those are not the words celiacs want to hear. We like “safety” and “no cross-contamination”. We’re picky like that.
Bingo! And we have the winner.
Smashburger did not do this for the gluten-free community. They did it for people who CHOOSE to be gluten-free. Smashburger saw a trend and jumped on it. Capitalism 101. And while I don’t like it, I sort of get it.
And to be fair, they are very honest about it on their website. Straight up, they say “We cannot guarantee that any food will be gluten-free because cross-contact with gluten may occur as shared equipment for menu items is used in our kitchen (for example, we use the same toaster for all of our buns).”
But here’s the problem I have with Smashburger. Fast food joints like Smashburger are just that. Fast food joints. Many people tend to go there on a whim…when they’re out and about. Odds are…many won’t read the website. They will see Udi’s gluten-free buns and think they can have them. And yeah, they may still ask the server all of the cross-contamination questions, but will the server know? Since they are not marketing to celiacs, I can’t imagine them training their staff to be educated.
At the end of the day, it’s on us to know where we can and cannot eat. But this is still a dangerous practice and if one person gets sick, it’s one too many.
But my real beef is with Udi’s. They are the largest name in the gluten-free food industry. They dominate the store shelves. Like it or not, they are a leader in the industry.
With that leadership role comes RESPONSIBILITY. And to me, this Smashburger deal is as irresponsible as it gets.
How can they possibly “partner” with a company when the end product cannot be tolerated by the gluten-free community? It just reeks of greed and ignorance.
If I’m Udi’s and Smashburger comes to me with an offer, my first question would be “Will you do your best to keep it safe for celiacs?” If the answer is anything but a resounding YES, I walk away from the table.
I suppose I’m human that way.
As I wrap this up, to Smashburger I say: I get it. You are trying to broaden your market. Please just consider doing things differently. Either drop the gluten-free offerings or do it right. I’d be happy to hold your hand and show you best practices.
To Udi’s I say: Try not to act like a big, nasty conglomerate. Remember why you began your gluten-free offerings in the first place. I’d like to think it was to keep the gluten-free community safe. You are now failing in that mission. Remove your products from all Smashburger locations until they can provide a safe gluten-free meal to those who need it. Oh…and take a look at that quote above from Mr. Kibaki. That is leadership.
To the gluten-free community I say: Don’t order anything gluten-free at Smashburger. It’s not even close to being safe. And perhaps you can help the community. Head on over to Udi’s Facebook page and nicely let them know that you are disappointed in their partnership with Smashburger and kindly ask them to end the partnership until it can be done right.
Ok…I’m outta here. It’s time to put on some Smashing Pumpkins or perhaps some Smash Mouth and escape for a bit. Is it too early to get smashed??
84 thoughts on “Udi’s & Smashburger: A Gluten-Free Disaster”
I find your post particularly depressing. I was away from home for a few days and needed to eat in restaurants. One particular server assured me she understood cross-contamination because she too is a celiac. Moments later she asked how severe my “allergy” is, and if a little bit of gluten would be okay! (She’s a shoe-in for the perfect Smashburger customer!)
Little wonder that when I returned home my bowel situation was extremely bad. I’m worn down to the bone – I thought it would last a couple of days, but it will be 4 weeks tomorrow. (I also have colitis, so perhaps gluten exposure irritated my colitis.)
We cannot eat out safely with the GF “trend” and Udi’s has managed to make an untenable situation, so much worse. I’d roar like a lion, but I have the strength of a starved kitten.
Shameful situation, indeed!
Meow. (That’s cat language for sorry you’re hurting and I hope you heal soon!)
I’m so glad someone else wrote you about this! I went to try them out (as I’m a sucker to try anything once…) but I ended up walking out because things were just going to be too complicated. I’d have to remove too many things, put the staff through too many hoops, and be too worried about what I ate when there’s a very celiac-friendly Five Guys across the street from our Smashburger.
In all honesty, I tried them once pre-gluten free and wasn’t all that impressed with Smashburger’s food. It’s not a place I’ll miss not going to by any means!
I’ve visited Smashburger quite a few times in NJ and have always had a positive experience. I ask them to put tin foil down on the grill when they make my burger, and when they toast my bun. Sometimes I don’t even get the bun toasted. And they bring my burger to the table wrapped in tinfoil. You just have to use your judgement and do what makes you feel safe. I haven’t ventured out to other Smashburger locations but I have not gotten sick or had any reactions at the Smashburger that I visit.
Good to hear. And to be clear, I’m not taking down Smashburger here. They are very open in saying that it’s not safe for celiacs. I honestly just wish they wouldn’t offer it then. It may be safe in NJ, but then you go to the next location thinking it’s the same way, and it’s not. My two cents anyway.
It’s the part where “You just have to use your judgement and do what makes you feel safe” as Jenna says that kind of gets to me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not attacking her. She’s right about that, and we all have to go through it as celiacs/NCGIs. But the idea of always having to be “on” at every turn when you’re eating out… it sucks.
It’s mentally draining, and it’s a scientifically proven fact that the human brain only has a limited capacity for this sort of stuff (see for example, http://heathbrothers.com/switch-chapter-1/ in particular the passage about the cookies and the radishes, and the subsequent determination in attacking the puzzles). When we have to be “on” like this, it depletes our limited mental resources that we need in order to get through the REST of the day.
While most people who eat out barely give their orders a moment’s thought, and then afterward get back to being employees or parents or spouses or whatever — having barely dipped into their mental energy tanks during their meal — we’re draining ours all this time just trying to stay safe. It truly is a quality of life issue we’re discussing here.
This Smashburger place, like so many others, does little to nothing to ease this burden, which is why for me personally, I rarely entertain eating out. In fact it was only last week that I dined out for the first time since my DX nearly 2yrs ago.
But I didn’t go to just *any* restaurant. I chose one that in its nearly 3yrs of operation has developed a reputation for doing GF right; a non-chain, single-location, small restaurant (seats <40) with a small menu: 5 appetisers, 5 entrees, 5 desserts (all with main ingredients listed), of which only 3-4 dishes altogether were NOT GF.
Even in this case I spent a 1/2hr the night before, studying their menu online — I was unfamiliar with several of the ingredients and devoted some of the time to learning about these — and another 10 mins asking questions once I got there. We had to wait an hour for a table upon arrival so I did most of this before being seated.
Things turned out well for me, to be sure. I would eat again at this restaurant. But if I have to be this "on" in what was really almost a best-case scenario, then Smashburger is a total non-starter for me.
Yes, this exactly. It is mentally and often emotionally exhausting to have to be so paranoid and exacting about these things that most people don’t give a second thought to. Anytime a potential new place to eat comes on the horizon, I spend a half-hour or more scouring their menu to see if there’s anything safe to eat there. That’s if I have time, of course, if the menu is even available online, and if it’s not something that’s just sprung on me. Most of the time it just leaves me anxious and upset.
I’m kind of a shy person to begin with, and having to speak up and advocate for myself in all of these situations makes me want to just never go out to eat. It’s led to me not hanging out with several old friends anymore because they always want to go out to eat somewhere that’s not safe for me. So they just stop inviting me. And I can’t say I blame them. I don’t expect anyone to change their lives for me, but I also don’t think they should expect me to just go along and either bring my own food (which isn’t even allowed at most restaurants) or press my luck just to try to go along with the crowd. Over the years I’ve just decided it’s not worth getting sick over, and if people can’t be friends with me because I can’t eat the same things as them, then I don’t really care anyway. I just hate that I feel like a burden sometimes because my friends who DO care regularly go out of their way to include me in their activities.
Like others (and you) have said, I really can’t come down on Smashburger that hard, because at least they’re forthcoming about the fact that they don’t/can’t (whatever) follow gluten-free protocols in their kitchens. If they can’t or don’t want to, that’s their business, and at least they’re somewhat okay with acknowledging that. But the fact that Udi’s would partner with them anyway, even after knowing this, makes me really upset.
I have tried to explain this to my family who love to eat out. While they are all looking forward to eating something tasty, I am busy grilling the wait staff with dozens of questions. Some of them test type to see if they really do understand. Then watching to see if the person delivering the meal has handled it properly, Searching for any sign of visible gluten contamination, and then dealing with others at the table who may refuse to just get up and walk away if it is a total loss.
I was weary before I ever took a bite.
Forget that there are but a few tired items that I can eat which I knew were my only options BEFORE I entered the establishment. And I was sick of that a long time before I quit going out.
No wonder that I am totally exhausted with the experience.
I choose to eat at home or bring my own food.
Mentally exhausting. That sums it up. I related my recent initial post-DX dining experience above. When I gave the waitress my order, I politely requested that it not be brought out together with any non-GF dishes, which she honoured, although she might have done so anyway. But I immediately got dismissive commentary from one of my fellow diners — who KNEW this was my 1st post-DX time eating out — that I was being too worried. It wasn’t worth escalating so I didn’t respond to these remarks, but I would just as soon not have had to sit there listening to them.
Jennifer Esposito’s book (def worth reading for anyone with gluten intolerance issues of any kind) has a passage that puts things in pretty plain terms:
“Food is a primal thing, the most basic instinct. People who can eat whatever they want take this for granted. They eat to live. They enjoy it, and they may or may not overindulge, but they don’t appreciate what an amazing privilege it is to be able to open the refrigerator, take something out, prepare it, sit down, and eat it. They can go to a restaurant and find something they like on the menu, and then they can order it and eat it. They can walk down the street, go into a deli, grab something, anything they want, and they can walk down the street munching away. A sandwich. A bowl of noodle soup. A wrap. A burrito. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. It’s no big deal.
“When you have celiac disease, that’s a heaven you’ll never know again. Your life will never be carefree like that again when it comes to food. There is a shadow over the refrigerator, the restaurant, the deli. Every meal has fear in it.”
I will say you can’t blame udi’s for trying to do everything in there power to expand there company the company that owns them boulder brands is a disaster most shorted stock on the NYSE balance sheet awful udi’s might not even be around in 5 to 10 years I do have celiac diease and I try to avoid there products as much as I can there glutino line the only one that’s actually not bad out of all of boulder brands products
I think it’s up to Smashburger to execute this the RIGHT way. We should be writing on THEIR Facebook wall and asking them to reevaluate the program to make it celiac safe if requested!
I’d say it all depends. They are at least being honest that it’s not safe. And it seems they don’t have the resources/desire to make it so. So rather than pretend, I’d prefer to see them stop offering it.
Good point. I will do that.
Oh my gosh. This is so cynical/wrong of Udi’s! Now I am even more worried as we are going on a driving trip next week and I am so worried about how I am going to eat safely on the road. I will definitely send Udi’s a message to say how disappointed in them I am.
I still feel like a newbie on my Celiac adventure, and I do eat Udi’s items sometimes. I’m not at all surprised at Smashburger but was told I could trust Udi’s. It never mattered to me before, but I am now curious as to if they state they are there to help the Celiac community or just a company taking advantage of the GF fad…so off to their website I went. The first thing I noticed is their mission statement has nothing about Celiac.
“Our mission is to provide you with the best gluten-free food on the planet. We create delicious products that will fill your stomach and warm your soul. The flavor and texture of Udi’s Gluten Free breads, buns, bagels, muffins, cookies and granolas are so good our fans have been known to cry with joy!”
After exploring their website more I thoroughly believe they have never been fully invested in just the Celiac community. They are marketing to anyone interested in being GF, and it does not matter to them if it’s Celiac or another reason. I am wondering if Gluten Dude, or anyone else knows of a time that Udi’s was really pushing to help the Celiac community or have they always been this way? By the way they have a “restaurant” locator in which you can find any local restaurant serving Udi’s items. I noticed several in my area that I wouldn’t dare go near! Once again GD you have opened my eyes.
My daughter lives in Boulder Colorado, where Udis started. It was just a conventional bakery/restaurant. Many people eat gluten free in Colorado, for various reasons and so many people started asking for GF that they started making some and it was very popuar. They started a separate facility for GF, but it was never a celiac thing. After it became very big and they were shipping bread all over, the original owners sold the GF part to a large corporation.
This is more than a little disheartening. Why do it at all if the people who need gluten free can’t eat there? Reminds me of a recent experience at God Father’s Pizza and Bar . Let me explain.. I was not there to eat. My husband and I had stopped in for drinks in the separate bar area. It is the only bar in our small town. I have never gotten sick on a glass of wine there. The manager was bar tending that day. She was chatting with us. I don’t remember how but the subject of gluten free came up but it did. She said ” Oh then you will be thrilled to hear we are going to start serving gluten free pizza soon”. My husband me gave a raised eye brow that said “UMMM YEEAHHH that is fine and dandy but my family will not be eating here, it’s too risky for my wife and children”. He started asking questions about how they will prepare it. I think to show her how it needs to be to keep people safe and how serious this is. She readily told us “oh yes we will cook it in the same ovens , same pans, same utensils they use on the regular pizzas BUT we clean everything very well between each use .. clean the ovens very well at night wipe everything down etc etc.. My husband was appalled but not surprised. He proceeded ,very politely, to tell her exactly why that will not work for someone with Celiac disease (like me). He told her all about cross contamination and how sick a celiac can get from a tiny mishap . He gave her the whole run down.I chimed in to confirm what he was saying was true. Her reaction was “umm..ohh.. wow.. oh… really…whoa!” I kid you not.. her very next sentence was not oh I am glad you told me so we can make things safer.. What she said was..”Well you be sure to come back and try some of our gluten free pizza and tell all of your gluten free friends.. help get the word out!”.
We finished our drinks and left. I told my husband- “Oh yeah I will get the word out all right..I will tell every gluten free person I know NOT TO EAT THERE!!!” We have not been back since , not even for drinks. I get that they may not have understood how serious CC is and how careful they need to be ..but after we talked ..No excuse.. I am with you Dude.. Do it right or don’t offer gluten free at all.
Very disappointing to say the least. Disingenuous, greedy, uncaring. Mostly about Disk but Smash Burger too.
However, some good news! As I was reading your article, I was enjoying a delicious Angus burger at Shake Shack. No bun, BUT the staff is super knowledgeable about celiac and procedures. EACH person who either cooked or bagged my food changed gloves and most important my burger was cooked on a dedicated grill. They were also very up front, telling me before I even asked, about the fact that their fries were not good for me since it is not a dedicated fryer. Oh, well..but I was still very impressed! They totally satisfied my burger craving! If they can do it why can’t Smash Burger?
Because I’m also allergic to corn as well as gluten, I’ve never been able to even try Udi’s. When they started taking over and dominating the shelves I actually honestly was dissapointed and felt a little pushed out of an already very depressing and limited supply of food. The GF bread selection even at my local Whole Foods is about 3 vertical feet of shelf space, and 2 of those shelves are Udi’s products.
The joy I get from finding breads that are gluten free, and then corn free… I can’t even tell you. But I also understand, corn is cheap. It’s technically gluten free. So. I get it, even if I hate it, and don’t trust companies who pump their GF products with it.
It really is disgusting that a GF company would sell out like this. It’s blatant disregard for the health of those who they claim to cater to.
I’m strict with my diet. I have given up eating anything outside my own home for the same reasons in your article. With that being said I do think non-celiacs eating gf isn’t always just a fad diet. I like to think many people with health issues are just trying to figure out how to feel better (this probably includes a lot of Celiacs before diagnosis).
What would solve this problem is a distinction between “gluten free” and “gluten reduced” claims at restaurants. It’s disappointing and downright dangerous to the uninformed celiac to have large companies not “get it.”
Me too. I’ve spent a year trying to regain health after being Glutened at a restaurant…
I’ve learned that GRAINS are not my friend in any form and I’m not going to trust my health to any processed food source be it a restaurant or a company like UDI’s.
I am celiac and thought for years that eating GF was the answer. I WAS WRONG!
Junk food is junk food. Eat non processed organic foods to heal your guts and restore health.
It’s sad they aren’t taking it more seriously, and makes me more appreciative of our local franchisees in a Wisconsin/Midwest fast-food restaurant who are also making Udi’s buns available for their burgers. The difference? The buns come to the table separate from the burger and toppings, and still in their original wrappers. The ticket has “gluten allergy” on it in several places in large letters, which says to me they are also trying to give a heads-up in the kitchen to be cautious about cross-contamination.
I’m SO glad you posted this! I’ve eaten at Smashburger a couple of times because I was so excited they offered Udi’s buns but boy did I regret it after. Even though the staff assured me it was safe…I felt awful! I ate there a second time (Apparently I’m not a quick learner) and felt awful again. I won’t be returning which is a bummer because it tasted so good. I wish Udi’s would remember why they’re in business in the first place.
On the one hand, the 29/100 people who “choose gluten free” have made opportunities for the 1/133 to find gluten free products much more available, but on the other, it’s made ensuring those GF foods are really safe. I think it’s time we all get together and lobby the FDA to crack down on this kind of mess. I’m tired of the eye-rolling attitude from restaurants, the blatant disregard and the distant stares of “I’m not listening to what you’re saying” when we try to explain why it’s important to eliminate cross-contamination.
Has anyone made a 1/133 t-shirt yet? I’d buy one!
I am wanting a t-shirt with 1 in 133 on it too…or even on a green rubber bracelet. I think the best way we can change the thought process of our society to spread the word. I would love to see some sort of PSA commercial about Celiac…listing the 1 in 133 statistics and how a miniscule amount can cause permanent damage to someone with Celiac and ending it with “if you think you or a loved one may have Celiac, you are not alone find out more information at (insert website/phone number)”.
Okay, I eat at Smashburger a few times a month and I have never had a problem. I get either the burger or chicken without a bun because I don’t like the Udi’s buns: they’re too big and don’t taste that great. I also get the regular smashfries. When I first started eating there, I talked to the manager and he said the burgers were safe and the regular fries, but not the sweet potato fries because they were cooked in the same fryer as the onion rings; the regular fries have a dedicated fryer.
I’ve never gotten sick from eating there, so he must have been telling me the truth. Or am I just lucky? I’m not celiac, but gluten puts me into a barely functioning coma for up to 10 days.
At home I’ve switched from Udi’s to Rudi’s bread because I think it tastes better. Maybe you all need to come over to my local Smashburger for dinner!
I’m really tired of establishments and companies making folks think that products are gluten free when they’re not. I give ZERO credit to those who say “oh, by the way, this is not safe for celiacs.” Either it’s gluten free or it’s not. I say call out both Udi’s and Smashburger. Every time that this type of situation occurs it muddies the waters for all of us who are eating gluten free for medical reasons, whether we have a celiac diagnosis or not. (Many of us never will have that diagnosis, but some of us are more sensitive and more stringent in our gluten-free eating than the “gold standard” diagnosed celiacs. That’s another discussion, of course. Associated, but still separate.) Family and friends will hear the “gluten free” and think it’s safe for us to eat there. Well-meaning relatives and friends might take your gluten-free child there. Others won’t understand why you all can’t go there for lunch as they simply heard “gluten free”! When we say, “well, no, it’s not really gluten free,” some will think we’re just being a big “picky” (your word) pain.
It’s the same type of situation as with Domino’s “gluten-free” pizza receiving NFCA’s previous “amber” designation. The NFCA association greatly confused people as it was misleading at best. It made it far more likely for those with celiac to go to Domino’s and “try” the “gluten-free” option. Then there were many who assumed because they didn’t have a visible reaction that the pizza they ate was safe. They even blogged about it and as a result more people went and tried the “gluten-free” pizza.
Many did have a visible reaction and were ill. Did they share that with the world? Nope. Most of them did not, because there’s this pervasive “let’s just all get along and promote anything that has a gluten-free label in the gf community” attitude. That attitude is seriously harming people. I’m convinced that a lot of folks are getting glutened more often than ever because they’re eating products/meals that aren’t truly gluten free.
When they have symptoms and issues, they’re not looking to gluten because they think they’re eating gluten free, they think they’re developing other issues. While the latter can certainly happen, it’s been shown that when symptoms continue, most of the time it’s due to continued gluten exposure. What complicates matters is that our primary symptoms from gluten exposure can change over time or we might develop totally new symptoms, even as part of other autoimmune diseases.
Yada, yada, yada. This fight gets really old. We should not have to be dealing with these types of issues. Just do it right or don’t do it, brands, companies, and people in general.
Doing the slow clap…
Thanks, GD, although I’m not seeking praise as you know. Just want to get other people on board and aware as you are constantly doing. So many of these things are off my radar (e.g., no Smashburger around here), so I truly appreciate you bringing them to our attention and, as always, calling a spade a spade.
Perfect comments in every way!
I am way past being “thrilled” everytime i hear about a supposed GF item. I long ago stopped eating anywhere they put the caveat that they can’t control the “normal” CC in their own kitchen.
Thanks, Cheryl. Yes and yes, for sure.
I totally agree with all of your comments! Unfortunately, Udis is no longer owned by the founders but was bought out by Boulder foods. Since they also brand Smart balance, Glutino, Earth Balance, Evol, and Best Life they are well aware of the responsibility to the gluten free community. Since they are traded on the NASDAQ , I think it is pretty clear they have more allegiance to their shareholders.
It’s too bas they don’t take it seriously because it can be done right. There’s a burger chain called South St. Burgers in Canada that offers gluten free buns and New York Fries. They have a dedicated fryer for the fries, dedicated toaster for the buns, and a dedicated prep space. The servers change gloves as well. I never had any trouble taking my son there because they did it right. It’s not impossible, just takes the will to do it right.
South Street Bugers are the best! Care Bakery Buns! YUM! One of the 5 places I have eaten out in 2 years!
They do it right and tasty! I had trouble eating everything that was served to me!
Shame on Udi’s and Smash burger…..wouldn’t want to be responsible for customer’s health instead of profit….oh but wait I bet they charge extra, for what?
Not impossible just takes leadership & action at ALL levels….GF is not just a marketing term to increase profit which is what this appears to be a textbook example.
The Melt, a California fast-food chain, also offers Udi’s bread but states the food isn’t prepared in a “gluten-free environment.” It all comes back to the consumer, who has the ultimate responsibility. Unfortunately, one can’t count on someone else to look out after them, Udi’s or any other company. We can, however, always count on the Gluten Dude for keeping people on their toes! 🙂
I didn’t realize this was a problem with Smash Burger & Udi’s. Guess I’m lucky since my local SBs are very knowledgeable and have kept me, and my Celiac friends, safe! I will certainly bear this in mind when I travel though, so…thanks for this post.
I have to say that I support Jenna and her comment that she talks to the staff before ordering. And, while I understand where John is coming in his reply to Jenna, I must respectfully disagree with him. It is OUR responsibility to keep ourselves safe. Unfortunately this means that we must be, as he says, “on” all the time when eating out. In my humble opinion, my health and well being is mine to cultivate. While I would LOVE for this to be different, it just isn’t. If being aware of cross contamination possibilities is too much for someone to be aware of when eating out, then perhaps that individual shouldn’t be eating out. Please know that I am sharing this opinion respectfully…I’m not in any way implying that Celiacs shouldn’t eat out, but rather that it is in our own best interest to remain diligent in making safe choices for ourselves…. Additionally, I believe this is an important aspect of advocacy for in our diligence we are able to educate and make it easier for us the next time we visit that establishment…or at the very least, easier for the next Celiac who walks through the doors!
Thanks for taking the time to read my previous comments. I’m not offended that you disagree. In fact, I suspect we may not in as much disagreement as you might think. I didn’t intend to say that we shouldn’t be “on” while dining out. We should. My main point was just that having to do so de-energises us compared to everyone else as we go about the rest of our day. Like I said, this is scientifically proven.
But there are degrees of “on”-ness. So the more a restaurant does to make me feel safe, the more open I am to dine there. Unfortunately, very few places satisfy me enough on this criterion (too many Smashburgers) and only last week did I eat out for the first time, nearly 2yrs after DX.
I say there should be reasonable limits to how “on” we have to be. And in the broader context there are some state-sanctioned ones. This is why we have restaurant inspectors. Taking the “on”-ness concept to its logical extreme leads to the sort of situation where that misguided politician a couple months ago unwisely commented (paraphrasing), “Restaurants shouldn’t be obliged to force staff handwashing after bathroom breaks; let’s just make them disclose this and let customers decide for themselves whether they want to eat there.” If the rest of the world had to be as on about staff handwashing as we are about GF, there’d be massive protest.
Yes, we need to draw the line somewhere, but the farther from this extreme, the better. If Smashburger never breathes another word about being GF until they get more serious about CC, then they step farther away from this extreme than where they are now.
You stated that, “If being aware of cross contamination possibilities is too much for someone to be aware of when eating out, then perhaps that individual shouldn’t be eating out.” Yes, perhaps that’s true — and that’s exactly why I’ve only gone out once so far (and even then I was kind of pushed into it by a visit from an out-of-town friend). But there will be circumstances when eating outside one’s home will be a “necessary evil” and there may not be much control over the situation. What happens then?
What about going to an out-of-town funeral or a wedding? How does one prepare for meal arrangements? And I’m not even talking about at the wedding dinner, but at other times during the trip. Would it be amenable to pack enough non-perishables to get by without having to eat someone else’s cooking (better put them in your carry-on, too, just in case your checked luggage goes AWOL)? This is something for which most others needn’t give a moment’s thought. They can just say, “I’m staying with my cousin, I’ll be eating with them the whole time.” Or, “Oh, it’s a big city with lots of good restaurants, we can decide where to eat once we get there.” Or whatever. End of story.
What about going to a job interview and having to go out for lunch with them? The restaurant will almost certainly be of their choosing, not one’s own, so how does one get through it safely? Asking ahead of time if there will be lunch might be part of the approach, but how to do so without coming off entitled, like a free lunch is automatically expected? And will all this jeopardise one’s chances of getting hired, in effect, merely for having a disease that was never asked for?
These are issues most people will never navigate, nor will they necessarily be understanding of those who need to: look at GD’s recent posts about the celiac soldier who went through over a decade of military bureaucracy before his DX, and the college celiac who’s stuck paying $5k for a residence meal plan she can’t use.
It also doesn’t help that we live in a society where “gluten-free” is increasingly becoming shorthand in some circles for flakiness, petty nonconformism and overall nuisance-making in general. And the Smashburgers of the world compound the situation. As Shirley said, well-meaning family/friends/associates might suggest such a place, but then one risks coming off picky for voicing any concerns. “There’s tons of gluten-free stuff on the menu, so what’s the problem?!?”
I don’t understand why Udi’s is being held responsible for Smashburger’s cross-contamination issues. Udi’s makes commercial food products- they are not a health association that can give a “Seal of approval” for a franchise restaurant’s procedures. The article says that Udi’s is an industry leader, and they are- but since when is that synonymous with being an authority on proper management of health issues?
It’s like holding Heinz accountable for how unhealthy fast food fries are.
I just think this case is different. They agree to a specific “partnership” and marketed that partnership. Hence the responsibility.
I agree, this whole partnership concept is what I find off-putting here. If Smashburger were simply buying Udi’s product and OEM’ing into their menu, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, or at least, not as big a problem; I’d still find Smashburger’s lack of CC conscientiousness disagreeable. But it would simply be a matter of Udi’s serving the customer so I’d give Udi’s a pass. They’re a business that serves the customer, whoever this might prove to be, so they don’t really have a lot of control over how their customer uses their product.
But labelling it as a partnership makes it a deeper relationship where it’s at least implied if not outright stated that Udi’s is endorsing the company with whom they’re partnering.
You make my point so much better than I do 🙂
Udi’s sells GF food to make money. Their ingredients aren’t healthy and, well, they are famous for their air bread. Any large fast food chain is also in it for the money. And most people who eat at fast food chains don’t really care about what goes into their food. Sorry, but, truth. If they sell the food as being gluten free in their restaurants, and a Celiac ate there and got sick, could they sue them? Referring someone to a website should not be good enough. They need to have a big sign in the restaurant that says, “our gluten free food is not safe for anyone who has to have gluten free food”. Again, this is just big business trying to get as many customers as possible with no regard to the health of said customers. I suppose it is time to make it law for restaurants to have to actually provide gluten free food if they are going to claim they do.
Sometimes it feels like businesses are using Celiacs as poster children. Claim to be helping one population, but make money off the masses who imagine eating special food will melt away all the sad.
For the record, I don’t consider Udi’s to be gluten free for me. And yes mister customer service representative, I did eat something else this week.
Perhaps it is past time to start a boycott of such places.
I just had this discussion with a friend who said, “Oh by the way, Domino’s pizza down the street has GF pizza. We can go out to eat now.” I am beyond weary of explaining in gory detail to others all about my disease and why such things are not safe. Mostly because that starts a tired discussion of detail which I have explained so many times frequently to the very same people.
I am NOT gluten free! I am Celiac! Apparently – There is a very big difference these days.
And they won’t say it to my face, but later I find out they told others that they think I am just “too picky”. And I never get invited to events again despite always bringing my own food and avoiding such discussions and keeping Celiac on the “down low” whenever possible.
The best day of my life was the day when the doctor walked into my room announcing, “You have Non Tropical Celiac Sprue. All you have to do is leave NOW and just stop eating GLUTEN! HURRAH!” Until Celiac’s have the same right to honesty in advertising, It was also the worst day of my life!
I’m re-boycotting Trader Joe’s, if we are making a list. 🙂
Just to be CLEAR!
I don’t mean boycott out of any anger.
When I was growing up, the farmers all banded together to boycott a grocery store item that was being priced out of the price range of a subset of consumers just to make $$$. We all went without that product until the prices were brought down so that everyone had equal and FAIR opportunity to items that are critical to life. (The company raised prices on a luxury item to make up the difference.)
Maybe we need to start a social trend that shames these people who “occasionally eat gluten” because it is a “fad diet” by showing them the real dangers of Celiac and NCGS and somehow demonstrating the suffering they unwittingly create for people who need real 100% gluten free in order to LIVE.
I’m curious to know what everyone thinks about the Pizza Hut partnership? I have tried their Udi’s gluten free pizza and so far no problems!! Just curious to know what everyone thinks.
Seems they are trying to do it right. But I’ll pass just the same.
This seems to me to be just another business jumping on the $$$ bandwagon without a shred of real concern for those of us who have Celiac and need gluten free to actually LIVE.
Sorry, but I never trust my health to “symptoms”. They depend on the random damage to the intestines from auto immune system freaks outs of Celiac. I ended up in hospital due to a trip where chefs supposedly “knew” all about gluten free. The part that absorbs iron was damaged. Iron is so critical to life that the body has stores to draw upon in times of drought, famine and other natural crisis. Those stores have to be totally depleted before any symptoms are OBVIOUS. It can take weeks to months before “symptoms” are apparent.
I don’t think it is possible to “get it right” in a restaurant where gluten is the major ingredient. And I find it irresponsible for advertising that misleads the general population into making my life more miserable and dangerous.
Cheryl, funny you mention the iron depletion. I’m a silent celiac; i.e., I never once could recall acute digestive symptoms from eating gluten before I gave it up. But I did have mild anemia. The odd thing is, it was caught fairly early — but only because I was a blood donor. I used to donate every eight weeks (the max allowed frequency) until my iron (hemoglobin) went too low. They check you with that finger prick test before letting you to donate.
I was supposed to do further medical follow-up but I just let it slide, thinking my frequent donations were what was depleting me. I also used to drink tea with my meals fairly often but learned this can hamper iron absorption so I only drank it between meals from then on. My iron levels were okay enough a year or so later that I went back to donating every eight weeks, but after another year of donations my iron again fell too low. With the recurrence, this time I decided to go through with the medical follow-up, thinking it could be something serious. Over the next seven months I underwent all sorts of treatments, iron supplement pills, blood tests, examinations, samples *ahem*. All this time I had no idea where all this stuff was leading, until finally one day nearly 2yrs ago the doctor told me I was celiac. So that was what caused my anemia. The donations had compounded the problem.
Had I not been a regular blood donor (and getting those hemoglobin checks), I might never have discovered all this — until much later and who knows what further damage might have occurred.
Not to be too melodramatic, but the life I saved by donating blood might well have been… my own.
The people who started making Udi’s bread are not the people running it anymore. It is just a giant company who bought them out and are trying trying to make money. They don’t give a rat’s ass about celiac people. Years ago when Udis was a local Boulder bakery I bought their bread when I visited my daughter and would bring some home in my suitcase. It was awesome. When they started mass producing it the quality did go down quite a bit, but it is even worse now. They have been saying they were fixing the holes for more than 5 years.
GD often hears back from companies he blogs about, e.g., PF Chang’s, Bob’s Red Mill, General Mills. Wonder if Smashburger and/or Udi’s will have anything to say over this?
I have to agree with everyone. I have gluten intolerance but stay away none the less. It amazes me how big companies have jumped on the band wagon of “gluten free” because the think it is a fad….what they have failed to do is research. And those who think it is a fad diet and want to join, shame on them. They fail to see for some it is deadly for them to consume wheat and other glutens.
Udi’s is a no-go for me on the xanthan gum alone. If you are feeling only 80% better and still have GI issues, try cutting out xanthan.
Also, boo Smash and Udi’s. Boo.
Currently there are probably four times as many fad dieters out there as there are those of us who get sick from eating gluten. (I don’t know the exact statistics; I doubt they even exist– there’s a lot of free-floating opinion out there, too.) But I find it hard to be too down on companies for going after the business of the fad dieters. It’s real revenue. I’m not happy with the existing terminology, which makes no good distinction between “need gluten free food because gluten makes me sick” and “want gluten free because I think it may be better for me, but a little bit won’t hurt”. Like many here, I don’t eat out often. I know some places where I’ve done so safely. But even at those, I know it’s a roll of the dice to eat at them. Heck, it’s even a roll of the dice to eat stuff at home– ingredients I buy that are supposed to be gluten free and have been tested and all can still have some cross contamination, and I may inadvertently introduce some gluten at home because home is not gluten free.
Thanks, GD, for exposing Smashburger. I’ll be going soon to visit my daughter in another state, and she might find that as a place where I could get some “gluten free” food. So we’ll go other places, and I still might get glutened, despite her and my best efforts to avoid it. Que sera, sera.
I’d like it if businesses like Smashburger were serious about making things safe for me. But I’d like lots of things that I don’t get. It’s part of being an adult about celiac disease that I come to terms with things like that, and try my best to keep healthy. But frankly, I’d rather see the FDA require drug manufacturers disclose gluten and allergens in their products. (And of course, even better, to avoid them.) That, to me, is a much stickier problem.
well I don’t understand why people like Udi’s. It taste like cardboard.
Stick with Franz brand. It’s tastes like real bread.
I had the same experience at Smashburger. But since I yes rally eat my burgers on Lettuce I had to take the bun the off it was just too much.
Hi Dude, Thanks for the informative article on Udi’s and Smashburger. I am a passionate celiac advocate (sound familiar?) and the president of my local support group. I tried to post my feelings on Udi’s facebook page as you suggested, and I wrote a nice paragraph asking them to restructure or reconsider their partnership with Smashburger. Rather well-written I might add. When I clicked on “post” I was asked to give my phone number or my CREDIT CARD NUMBER??? What’s that? I am fairly new to facebook, I know that’s not right. So I tried, but was blocked. The preceding comments are great, and so are you! Keep up the great work! I especially loved you during the Domino’s debacle! Cheers.
My response to Smashburger posted to their FB page:
I get it: Profitability = Sustainability! However, it’s one thing to supply buns to a burger chain that wants to offer a GF alternative – it’s another matter entirely to “partner” with the chain. You know full well that this partnership leaves the impression that eating a Smashburger is a safe option for those with celiac disease. It is not! Yes, consumers are responsible for the choices they make, but pandering for profit is simply shameful, and reckless!
Remember how in 2013, Bob’s Red Mill recalled one lot of their sorghum flour because its gluten content tested too high?
I wonder what would happen if Smashburger received a batch of Udi’s buns that were subject a similar gluten-fail recall? Since they’re only used for meals that are themselves already disclaimed as not passing GF muster, would they bother sending them back, or would it just be business as usual?
Also, from what I understand, Smashburger usually uses non-GF buns on their burgers while the Udi’s buns are only used by customer request. Do they have a similar “partnership” with their non-GF bun supplier? Granted, I’m no business expert, but it would strike me as odd for Smashburger to have a proclaimed partnership with someone who likely accounts for only a small fraction of their revenues while the other guy who presumably drives most of their revenues is merely just another supplier. If you’re the other guy, what would you make of it?
FYI, the Udi’s buns are the GF alternative to the regular bun and cost a dollar more. They would never give it to you automatically. I would imagine the goal of the “partnership” is to provide a GF burger — or chicken breast — to a customer who requests that, not to have nothing but GF food.
My friend and I have talked many times about having a GF food truck, but we don’t think we would make enough money to stay in business. The GF crowd would love us, but probably no one else would even try the food!
Oh, I wouldn’t expect the GF bun version of their burger to be priced as low as regular (not that everyone agrees with this expectation, and hence we have the frivolous PF Chang’s lawsuit). Not sure how your comments relate to my questions, though; maybe they weren’t intended as such, which is fine.
It seems odd to me in the larger analysis that SB has a declared partnership with the company that supplies a small fraction of their buns (GF ones) when they probably have no such arrangement for the rest of their (non-GF) stock, which must surely generate a much larger share of their revenue.
As for GF food trucks, I’d say chili would be a good dish to have as part of that venture. There aren’t too many GF dishes that would readily fit into the “crowd-pleaser” category but I’d say that’s one of them. Most people in the broader population probably aren’t even aware whether it’s GF, but I’ve noticed that even many of the canned varieties from Campbell’s and Stagg are (perhaps even all of them; I haven’t checked recently).
If the food from your food truck was really good for the price charged, you’d have a fighting chance. Just don’t make a big deal about it being gluten free. If you are competitive with food trucks, stores, and restaurants on a value basis, the gluten free crowd’s support could be the little extra that would make it profitable. Just find dishes that wouldn’t cost you more than a tiny bit more to produce because they were gluten free. Something like coconut shrimp where most of the food cost is not in the GF ingredient(s), but is usually/often done non-GF. Another idea would be buckwheat crepes/galettes. And John’s suggestion of chili is a good one. You’d need to focus on things that everybody would love that can be produced for no more (or very little more) than gluten-containing items.
I think the tricky part of catering to GF customers — whether with something like a food truck or a permanent location — even if all menu items are fully GF to FDA- or even GIG-compliance levels, is that many who can’t handle gluten also have other intolerances: dairy, xanthan gum, etc. So you may not be able to attract as much of this segment of the market as you would hope while still offering fare that would interest the broader population that you also need to maintain you market position.
Now more than ever before, with unprecedented levels and varieties of allergies and intolerances/sensitivities, food services has IMHO never been a more challenging business to get into.
We were discussing GF food trucks here a few weeks ago; I just discovered today that there is one here in my city that has been around for a while now, the Guanaco Truck, as per this review:
It’s run by a Salvadoran family and as the review states they focus on a small number of authentically prepared El Salvadoran items — mostly pupusas — rather than trying to offer a broad menu. Guanaco has been in operation here for about three years now, maximising their customer reach by operating their one single truck from a fixed weekly rotation of different locations around the city, so it seems a GF truck can be successful even with a limited menu if you can do it right.
Their food items are all naturally GF, but my deeper research beyond this review has found that at least one of their beverages (cebada and possibly others), which are again all Salvadoran, contains barley and would have to be avoided. Unfortunately for me, none of their locations are in areas that I frequent, which is likely why I’m just now discovering them, so I don’t know when I’ll ever get a chance to try them.
I have no intentions on eating anything from that store. There is to much of a chance of cross-contamination. A while ago at work (about 3 months ago) I caved in and joined my co-workers at the catered lunch which I was told was gluten free (because that is what the website for the PF Changs said it was). I ended up going home early and one of my co-worker said “she blew up like a puff ball”. My stomach was so bloated and the cramps, emesis, and enteritis that I experienced that day was not worth it one bit! I was up until 3 am in and out of the bathroom. The good side of this is that those that were unfamiliar with the effects of gluten on a Celiac were able to witness some of those effects. Then I got to thinking . . . PF Changs has Gluten Free Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce? Do they use separate stoves, utensils, pots, etc to cook the Gluten Free foods in? I honestly don’t think so. So in regards to that new GF burger . . . No thanks!
Udi’s doesn’t really give a crap what we think. They’re posting this as a response to all the comments on their Facebook wall:
“We hear you and understand your concerns around this. We’re currently taking these concerns into consideration and if there’s anything we can change, we’ll be sure to let you know.”
I don’t think we were the intended audience, so they really don’t care that we’re pissed off. The people who like to talk about gluten all the time (gluten free by choice) will eat it and love it and they will profit.
That canned response to every post is exactly what Bart did when we went after him. I don’t know why we bother trying. At least with Bart we were fighting the good cause for GD!
They just don’t fully get what we ” Celiac’s” go through. It’s just another bump on the path. I’m glad you guys posted this story.
I don’t have celiacs, but rather I have a gluten sensitivity which triggers horrible migraines. I know things are very difficult for people with celiacs, but please remember that there is a large group of people who cannot eat a gluten bun but can handle a gluten free bun with some slight cross-contamination. Places like Smashburger and Culver’s offering an Udi’s bun opens up a lot of possibilities for me and others like me. It is of course an individual’s responsibility to evaluate the cross-contamination at a restaurant and decide if they should eat there or not. I don’t know any celiacs who would blindly eat just anything that comes on a GF bun. I have a less severe gluten problem than many of you and still check every ingredient in every meal before eating.
Smashburger offers a gluten free bun, not a meal intended for celiacs. They are quite open about that on their site.
FIRST, I am so glad that you have cured you headache issues. I have struggled with migraines myself. I know how debilitating they are.
The name for the disease is Celiac (no S at the end)!
There is a major difference between your issues and those of who have celiac disease.
Celiac is LIFE THREATENING! Headaches – even migraines – won’t actually kill a person. Expecting celiac’s to “understand” is ignorant of the dangers faced by anyone with celiac disease.
Those of us who have Celiac generally spent approximately 10 years being very seriously ill. We struggled to SURVIVE organ death, anemia serious enough to end up in hospital, and myriad other bodily injury due to the difficulty in diagnosing Celiac. Then we were told, “If you want to live, eat a gluten free diet.” And most of us were abandoned to our own devices.
If we had not struggled to SURVIVE, no one (like you) would know about the benefits of a gluten free diet.
If we had not searched, no one would have ever heard about a gluten free diet.
If we had not fought the good fight, you would have no idea what to eliminate from your diet so you feel better.
If we were not on the front lines of this struggle, you’d likely be handed a “gluten free” bun with so much gluten that you’d have a headache.
If we were not out there demanding better, you’d have never known of any treatment and still be suffering debilitating migraines.
Perhaps you should be grateful and refuse to accept cross contamination in solidarity with celiac’s so that one day everyone can enjoy a burger in safety.
When you talk about eating something that is gluten free with cross contamination, understand that for those of us whose lives depend on 100% gluten free have to still fight to have the right to enjoy a meal out with our friends. If you choose NOT to support people with Celiac, that is YOUR choice. But don’t ask all Celiac’s to understand and agree because it will kill us.
I hope you heed Snowflakes wise words in response to your post. My assumption is that you have self-diagnosed gluten as the culprit that ails you. You may be correct, if avoiding gluten prevents migraines, but also be aware that your issue might be related to something else, entirely… (FODMAPS come to mind).
Your post was completely off the mark. As a certified celiac, I have no obligation to accept the concept that the restaurant is catering to someone like you. When you order a gluten free bun found nestled amongst gluten laden products, you are perpetuating the myth that anyone with a gluten “issue” can consume these products without consequence. If you truly need to eat gluten-free, you are doing yourself, and the entire celiac community, a great disservice.
Consider this dear: the amount of gluten that sits on the head of a pin is highly toxic to a celiac. Can you wrap your head around how difficult it is eat out safely? If you can imagine this, then perhaps you’d be less inclined to suggest that we “remember” the lucky folks like you!
Beth, I’m the same as you: not celiac, but I get vicious migraines if I eat gluten. I haven’t knowingly done so in over 4 years.
I was really interested in this article because I have eaten at Smashburger at least 30 times over the past several years and I have never gotten sick. I don’t get the GF bun because I don’t want to pay the extra and because I don’t like the taste. I don’t miss that kind of bread.
After reading the replies you got from Snowflakes and Colette, I’d say the people following this story don’t want to hear from people like us who are not celiac; we don’t count because we’ll only get a headache, not end up in the hospital. They only want to hear from their brethren. You may want to keep in mind that no one here gives a damn about you: YOU’RE NOT CELIAC.
Respectfully – (sarc off)
That’s actually not true Cheryl. I support anybody who gives up gluten 100% for their health, celiac or not. We have many in the community here who are not diagnosed celiac.
It’s those that are “gluten free” but then eat bread or cheat “just this once” that makes it difficult for those who “need” to be gluten free to be taken seriously. That is where my issue arises.
If a company offers gluten free, and they have a partnership with the most popular (but certainly not the best) gluten free company, it should be done right.
My post was not meant to be disrespectful.
To suggest to Beth that “no one here gives a damn about you,” is unfair and uncalled for.
I believe that Gluten Dude, and those of us who support his blog, are respectful of anyone who suffers with a gluten issue, however, a certified celiac doesn’t have the luxury you and Beth enjoy, as stated in your own words… “I don’t get the GF bun because I don’t want to pay the extra and because I don’t like the taste. I don’t miss that kind of bread.”
You are making assumptions Cheryl, because you do not fully understand the implications of the GF diet for someone certified celiac. Can I assume your ignorance is bliss?
Colette, I actually found your response to be totally condescending, which I why I answered in the sarcastic way that I did. Believe me, I have to put up with endless crap from friends and relatives who do not believe in any of this GF stuff and think it ‘s all in my head. I understand everything about celiac. No ignorant bliss here, thank you very much.
But you said things such as ” I have no obligation to accept the concept that the restaurant is catering to someone like you” … “someone like you”?? Obviously — to me — meaning, someone who’s not really sick enough to matter.
“Can you wrap your head around how difficult it is eat out safely?” I’ll bet she can. I certainly can because I don’t want to end up with a migraine. So I’m usually stuck with salad and it’s a bitch. Do you think I enjoy spending a week in New Orleans and ending up with a damn salad at every meal?
And the worst was “Consider this dear”. Do you really think, sweetie, that you’re not condescending to her, honeychile, when you called her “dear”? Oh please. You’re annoyed that she would dare to chime in on this when she’s not as sick as you, would dare to complain when she has so much more choice than you. You’re bitter and you’re taking it out on her.
And by the way, I don’t get the GLUTEN FREE BUN because I don’t want to pay the dollar. You can get it if you want to pay the dollar. Or do certified celiacs not eat GF food?
GLUTEN DUDE: I love your blog and I relate to it. I’m also aggravated by people who say they’re GF and then eat whatever they want. I wish I could do that. Sometimes I’ll joke that I’ll just eat the doughnut and put up with the migraine, but I never will. I know I’m GF for life. But I just went through the roof when I read these two people belittling this person for not swearing off Smashburger for life because THEY can’t eat there. Well, I’ve had to swear off practically everything I ever want to eat and if I can eat at Smashburger, I will. One migraine and I’ll be gone, but so far, so good.
If people want to discuss things, I’m there. When people start giving someone else a hard time, such as the quotes from Colette that I cited above, or the many condescending quotes from Snowflakes that I won’t even bother with, I’m going to jump in. No, we’re not as sick as you. If you don’t want us on the blog, let us know.
It’s a passionate bunch…no doubt. As are you, I think some of us are on the defensive a bit due to the gfree trend and the media bashing.
All are welcome here…promise. Nothing wrong with a nice healthy discussion.
Well, Dude, it seems that perhaps we have the answer to your original question – Who benefits from this?
Cheryl & Beth, I apologize.
Were my comments condescending? It certainly appears to be the case. Is your struggle any less than mine? In my view, a struggle is a struggle.
I frequently use the term “dear” or “sweetie” or “doll.” Take it for what it is, but it is NOT used as a tool to belittle anyone.
I think it’s safe to say that nothing I can further state will clarify my position, but I’ll try anyways….I got home last night after spending 3 weeks in Mont Tremblant, and I read Beth’s post which was sitting in my inbox, and to be honest, it didn’t sit well with me…..
The “magic” of Mont Tremblant is found in the village, where eating and drinking are part of the overall experience. There was a new French restaurant that tooted serving GF, and they also made their GF bread from scratch. I was tickled pink, until I was told in no uncertain terms that their offerings were not suitable for a celiac. The homemade bread, for example, is baked in the same oven as their regular bread. So, unlike Beth, who can opt to take a chance, I NEEDED to turn around and walk out.
My daughter called the famous pizzeria and she was thrilled to report that they had a GF pizza crust. All was well, until they told her that it wasn’t suitable for a celiac. They use one oven, and weren’t aware of a protocol needed to avoid cross-contamination. Again, Beth could opt to enjoy the GF version.
This precise scenario played out over and over again. Everyone is doing GF but it’s not safe for a celiac. Is any of this Beth’s fault? Absolutely not!
I guess I was irritated when she appeared to be asking the celiac community to understand how good things are having abundant GF options for those who needn’t worry about cross-contamination. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, my response was insensitive, and of course I’m happy for those of you who can benefit – but personally, this goes to the heart of why so many who are certified celiac are feeling completely left out.
On the day we arrived in Quebec, we ate in a small restaurant that had “sans gluten” painted on their window. I found croutons in the bottom of my salad. A butcher deboned and tressed our turkey with a dressing he promised would be GF. My husband spent an hour in his shop explaining my situation, and guess what? I spent almost the entire 3 weeks chained to the bathroom.
Truly, needing to live a GF life is not easy, and I should never have posted a single word. I did indeed take out my frustration by posting. But guess what, I’m human, I’m celiac, and, if I could have opted for an unsafe GF option and no harm would be done, I would have done so in a heartbeat.
I will have a lifetime of wonderful memories, but I choked back a few tears while perched upon my throne.
Again, I apologize. Your struggle is not mine, but it’s still a struggle, and I understand.
Well done Colette.
Thank you Gluten Dude.
We leased the most amazing, newly built private home (chateau), overlooking the village and ski run in Mont Tremblant to accommodate our entire family. How amazingly fortunate that we could do so? Very amazing! It was on our bucket list, and I am beyond grateful that we were able to tick it off our list!
I cooked for an entire month before we left to make sure that I would have our traditional Christmas dishes, which I’ve successfully converted to GF since I was diagnosed in 2007.
But, you know what? Although the accommodation exceeded all expectations, and I have no right to bitch, the entire experience was taxing on me, and my whole family. My cooking aside, I told my children that they needed to include dad in their “dining out” experience, because he deserved an experience without dealing with “mother.” Mother, was unceremoniously seated upon her “throne.”
I have never felt so blessed, and, so personally cursed. Oh God, it’s such a deeply personal journey, and few people understand.
I’m much calmer now and I will just reply in this way:
I would not have risked eating in any of those places, and I would have felt very depressed when I got home. Truly travelling is no longer fun, going out with my friends usually means watching them eat things I can’t eat, and during my struggle to give up sugar my son said, “Mom, you already can’t eat a damn thing that’s good; why would you try to give up sugar, too? You’re just making yourself even more miserable.”
It’s a struggle for everyone.
Hey, I have been GF 39 years and until now Udi’s was safe thing for me to eat. All of a sudden the bread slices are just rounded humps of heavy non raised dough. AND I get a gluten reaction from them. The consistency is rotten and feels likea hevay sponge instead of properly leavened bread. before holes and now just brick like lumps. The are ‘toast’ (Hu Hu) with me from now on. BEWARE of Udis from now on. I have reverted to baking my own loaves with Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain or Raisin Bread mixes. I use goat milk, organic eggs ground flax seed and coconut oil. NO mystery chemicals or dough preservers, similar in price. You just mix, let rise in pan and bake. no machine necessary and quaranteed Gluten free. Worth every penny and tastes GREAT. Order from Vitacost or Bob’s site for low price and free home delivery.
It always upsets me when companies offer gluten-free items that aren’t safe for the very people who need them the most. Ho hum. Thanks for outing Smashburger and Udis for doing this – along with so many other restaurants. The list is exhausting!
Love this! I, too, am sick of restaurants offering a gluten free menu that is not gluten free. I have found a few that do it right, and when they do, I contact the location manager, the franchise owner (if applicable), and corporate headquarters to let them all know how impressive it is, and how grateful I am. In-N-Out Burgers is absolutely my favorite fast food restaurant because they actually seem happy to see me. Of course, they know at my local one that they’re about to get an “atta-boy” Email as soon as I get my perfectly safe meal. The same goes for Torchy’s Tacos.
Alternately, when I find a place that isn’t gluten free – and only when their menu proclaims they are – I also contact management and have a discussion with them, explaining to them how dangerous it is, and that they have to remember it isn’t just me – a full grown adult. They are potentially feeding kids. Alamo Drafthouse is my favorite example. I got sick off of a salad. Why? They have an open air kitchen and hand toss their pizza dough. Their salad bowls are not kept in cupboards, so they inherently have flour on their interior and exterior surfaces. The silverware is wrapped inside paper napkins that are also dusted with flour. After I spoke with the manager, he led me up the chain to other humans, and within 60 days, they reprinted all of their menus explaining that the only food that is truly gluten free is the popcorn and the boxed candy (because neither is prepared or kept in the kitchen). Everything else with a * that used to mean gluten free, only means that the item contains no gluten ingredients but is very likely to be cross-contaminated. Although it made me sad, I was proud of them for being so forthcoming with their menu. Papa Murphy’s actually laughed at me, and replied “your point is?” when I explained to them that their gluten free pizza was cross contaminated. I was way too pissed off to speak to the manger at that moment in time. I handled that through Email, and got absolutely nowhere. Now, I call in advance, and if I don’t like what they have to say (every restaurant serving Udi’s buns so far), I just hang up. If everyone with celiac makes these choices, eventually the “fad” will go away, and these companies will have a huge decrease in profits. They’ll either take the community seriously, or just go back to being real, and not pretend they’re gluten free.
I live in Bethlehem, PA, and I actually got lucky with Smashburger in nearby Allentown, PA, and had a meal that was safe for me to eat…. I have a triple whammy of being gluten-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free out of medical necessity and not because it’s a fad. My father also has celiac disease and is gluten-free, but doesn’t have to avoid peanuts or dairy. However, I’m definitely aware of the points you bring up in this blog post, and I certainly can’t always expect that Smashburger or any other restaurant will continue to get it right for people in my shoes. I have had some nasty experiences in other hamburger joints, including on my birthday one year. AND I can’t even eat a salad made in a pizza shop, simply because of unwashed hands and the flour dust floating around and settling on every open space, including the salad ingredients. Thanks for writing this blog post… It’s just a reminder to me to keep asking questions and expect to be taken seriously.