Monday, September 14, 2009

Hardee's Gluten-Free Menu

It looks like Hardee's, a fast food restaurant with locations in 42 states, is making a push for gluten-free customers.
The chain got in touch with me through Twitter today to let me know it offers several gluten-free menu items. It also got in touch with the other gluten-free publications and bloggers on Twitter to spread the word.
According to the Hardee's website, you can get almost any burger wrapped in fresh, whole leaf iceberg lettuce, ala California's In -N-Out Burger chain. The fries and the breakfast bowl are also gluten free. The website warns you to stay away from the onion rings and chicken, which both contain gluten.
In fact the website has an ingredient and allergen guide that tells you what's in every menu item and conveniently marks those that contain wheat and wheat gluten with a
W.
The charbroiled chicken breast has a W
because it seasoned and glazed with wheat-containing soy sauce. And the country potatoes and the crispy curls contain wheat flour. But the mashed potatoes, coleslaw and most of the ice cream are among the items that appear to be gluten-free.
The one downside is that allergen guide notes that the restaurant does not have an allergen-free environment in the kitchen.
I'm not sure if that means the regular fries are made in the same oil as gluten-containing items or not. I contacted Hardee's and will let you know what the story is when they get back to me. It would be nice if they already make the fries in separate oil. But if dedicated fryers are not used, perhaps the company would be willing to show just how serious it is about meeting gluten-free needs by switching to them.
Meanwhile, it's nice to see yet another company reach out to the gluten-free community. Just remember even when it's gluten free, fast food should not be a substitute for a healthy gluten-free diet. It's nice in a pinch or as an occasional treat or convenience, but you should mainly be eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat protein.

Amy

3 comments:

Pam said...

Great post!

Rick said...

Our experience with Gluten Free meets fast food has not been positive. The issue comes down to training of the employees which is difficult given the turnover. We ordered a burger - no bun and distinctly told the cashier this because our daughter is allergic to wheat - gluten free. Word did not immediately filter down the line until we saw the food clerk take the burger off the bun and put it into a plastic container and then claim it never touched the bread. My daughter saw the whole thing and now will not eat out on the road. The issue is training of the line worker that this would make the customer very ill due to cross contamination. The restaurant policy needs to make it OK to scrap the order and start fresh. Not penalize the worker for wasting a burger.

Amy said...

Rick,
These are all good points. It comes down to spreading awareness about the gluten-free diet so workers and restaurant managers understand how serious a problem cross contamination is.
While it maybe uncomfortable, time-consuming and annoying, in a situation like the one you faced, it's probably a good idea to talk the manager and ask that a new burger be made. In that conversation you could emphasize that restaurant policy should make it OK to scrap the order and start fresh. Once a manager understands a little more about the diet, it's likely he or she would be more dilligent when someone makes a special diet request. And you would be doing your part to spread awareness.