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Restaurant Safety: Throw of the Dice

Even if you’re experienced in preparing gluten-free meals, eating out can be a trial.

Was the soup thickened with flour, does the Asian sauce include wheat-based soy, did they boil your gluten-free pasta in the same water as the semolina noodles?

If it’s hard for a customer, imagine how difficult it is for a restaurant that wants to offer gluten-free options to its diners. In the pell-mell workplace of a restaurant kitchen, it can be almost impossible to separate gluten-free ingredients from the rest.

But some national chains are trying. California Pizza Kitchen – the maker of the thin, crunchy crust and Cal-Med toppings – is introducing elaborate new methods to produce gluten-free dishes that comply with the FDA’s new standard of no more than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Other chains, like Texas Roadhouse, are committing only to gluten-free friendly items on their menu because of the strictness of the new standards. Olive Garden offers a gluten-free menu, but won’t promise the meal is totally gluten-free.
What’s a gluten sensitive person to do?  Health experts recommend that diners with celiac avoid even foods listed as gluten-free on a restaurant menu because of the possibility of contamination, accidental though it may be.

For those of us who are allergic or sensitive or just want to eliminate gluten from our diet, we must determine how much risk we’re willing to take. I, for one, am ready to try California Pizza Kitchen’s new gluten-free crust.

Pamela Hasterok
Source: Wall Street Journal