We have two daughters who both have Celiac Disease. This means that they cannot eat anything containing gluten (primarily from wheat) or anything that has been contaminated with gluten or they will become very ill. When we go into a restaurant, gluten-free is always foremost in our minds (we are always looking for restaurants where we can safely take the girls out to dinner).
What does gluten-free really mean?
We went into a small restaurant last week and were pleasantly surprised to see a large sign, “Ask to see our new Gluten Free menu!!” Since we were not with anyone needing a gluten-free meal we finished a gluten-laden lunch then asked to see the gluten-free options. More importantly, we needed to find out how the meals were prepared.
You see, just to offer food without gluten is not enough. If the gluten-free food is cross-contaminated with gluten, it goes from gluten-free to “Gluten’ed”!
This restaurant’s employees were very proud of the new menu. They were eager to share that they changed gloves and wiped off the grill before cooking a gluten-free meal. When questioned, we found that they did not use a separate grill (a must) nor did they have a fryer dedicated to gluten-free frying (another must).
We quickly realized that we would not be bringing our daughters here for a meal. The problem is, if you are going to advertise that you offer gluten-free food, you AND your employees must understand what that really means.
As a business owner you must do more than hang out a sign. You must do research and make sure you can deliver what you promise. One sick customer can cost you untold $$$$ in bad word-of-mouth advertising.