Burger King Releases Gluten Sensitive List

Gluten-free Apple Fries
Gluten-free Apple Fries

When the press release from Burger King about their new “Gluten Sensitive List” came out last week, it would seem like good news for the gluten-free community. However, things are not always as simple as they seem. The list includes French fries which are only gluten-free if cooked in dedicated fryers. I decided to check with my local Burger King about the issue because when large companies send out mandates to their franchisees, it only means something if the locations do as they are told. The Burger King near me stated they did have a dedicated fryer for French fries, but they did not seem to know what gluten was. This is to be expected in a fast food restaurant, of course. Wendy’s and Steak-N-Shake both have gluten-free chili I’ve never spoken to anyone at either chain who had a clue about what gluten was.

In addition to French fries, some meats, cheese, egg dishes, veggies, sauces, beverages, fruit and condiments are on the Burger King “Gluten Sensitive List“. Possibly having another safe place for gluten-free fries is a very big deal.  Always one wanting to know what the real deal is, I decided to give the the fries at Burger King (that has a dedicated fryer) a try. While my husband enjoyed his shake I ate almost the entire medium container of fries. The fries, at least in the batch I ate, didn’t cause me any problems. This is not to say that all fries at Burger King should be assumed to be safe.

Even at locations with dedicated fryers mistakes can be made simply by someone throwing chicken tenders or onion rings into the wrong fryer. This can happen at any place that has a dedicated fryer, of course. Everyone should do what works for them when it comes to dining out. Some people never eat and some rarely do so.  Others like me eat out often and do so successfully because we learned the many things one needs to know in order to dine out safely. People are always telling me how much they love our Restaurant Guide because it lists so many gluten-free restaurants. That part is great but for me personally, the most important part of the guide is the information about how we, gluten-free consumers, have to know what to ask about and discuss with restaurant staff. Most importantly it explains that we have to be our own advocate when choosing to dine out.

People who prefer to skip the fries at Burger King can enjoy the apple fries which are just apples cut up to look like fries. What a great idea for kids of all ages! Amy over at Gluten-Free Living has some comments about the new Burger King “Gluten Sensitive List” which is worth reading. The post also provides some interesting details about the McDonald’s French fry issue.

UPDATE: Burger King’s corporate office sent me the following information to explain their new gluten sensitive list:

The Gluten Sensitive List is meant to be a guide for our guests with gluten sensitivity, providing foods and ingredients on the BURGER KING® restaurant menu in the U.S. that do not contain wheat, barley, oats or rye. The Gluten Sensitive List is not intended for people with severe gluten intolerance.

The information on the Gluten Sensitive List is based on suppliers’ ingredient lists and is as complete as possible at the time of publication (December 2009). However, actual gluten content of these foods and ingredients may vary, depending upon the supplier, product handling, and each restaurant’s food preparation practices.

[Burger King Corp., its franchisees, and employees, do not assume responsibility for a person’s sensitivity or allergy to any food item provided in our restaurants.  Please always consult your healthcare practitioner for questions regarding your diet.  We encourage anyone with food sensitivities, allergies or special dietary needs to communicate any specific food handling requirements to the server or restaurant manager and to check www.bk.com on a regular basis to obtain the most up to date information about our food before you order.]

After reading that information, it doesn’t seem clear why the company decided to go to the trouble to create the list in the first place. But if you feel like skipping Burger King, there’s still good news, because the Restaurant Guide has gluten-free options from 120 national and regional chain restaurants.

12 thoughts on “Burger King Releases Gluten Sensitive List”

  1. This is a great step in the right direction for awareness, but I am too skeptical on whether or not a busy fast food restaurant can not cross-contaminate the food on a regular basis. In my opinion, busy, low paid, misinformed employees are not going to take it seriously enough.
    Overall, this is great to see the PR for the gluten free community, but I’m not sure if I’d trust a fast food restaurant to cook and handle my food correctly.

  2. Five Guys hamburgers has gluten free fries and they are wonderful. You can also get a hamburger without the bun and it is good too. They work very hard to make sure that you don’t have to worry about contamination. There are never any problem with the fries because that is the only thing that goes into their fryer.

  3. I am new to this gluten free eating and am still having trouble with my eating habits. I made some dish off of the internet last week and found out that most chicken broths have monosodium gluckamate in them. I think a new comer like myself would do wonders with a portable guide for food which containes gluten.

  4. As Nancy already mentioned, Five Guys has gluten free fries. They don’t fry anything but fries because all they have for food is either burgers or fries. I love that place and it is the only one I go to if I am craving fries but also do go to Wendy’s for their chili and potato-which I pour the chili on for my meal. :)

  5. Yes, Five Guys has our fave for fries but due to the packaging they use, it’s fairly hard to get a bunless burger with cheese on it unless we eat there. They wrap the burger in paper and all the cheese comes off when I open it. My husband started taking in a container for my burger and the manager didn’t want to use it due to liability issues. Finally, we decided not to eat there unless it was convenient to eat at the restaurant where they will serve my bunless cheeseburger in a paper tray. The first week the place opened near us, my husband picked up Five Guys on the way home – I was so excited to try it. They gave him one large bag that was top heavy and it spilled in the car as he was driving. He went to grab the bag, ran three feet off the road and side swiped a speed limit sign. The damage was $4200 (for a Camry!) so we tell people that I’ve had the most expensive gluten-free burger ever…lol! We only paid the $1000 deductible but still, that was one expensive gf meal 😉 I hope Five Guys starts serving buns from Udi’s when they are available – now that would be something to celebrate!

  6. I had run across this posting before a week away from home. When my gluten-eating travelling buddy opted to eat at Burger King during one all-day drive, I was so excited when I recalled BK had gluten free fries. I double checked their nutrition guide and the young lady who took my order. Yes, they’re gluten free. No glazed look; no ‘I don’t know what that means’; just – Yes, they’re gluten free. I ordered the fries – to eat with my fruit and hard-boiled eggs I usually travel with. I had two fries on my way to the table….ooooh!…first real fries I’ve had in…years….sat down, and proceeded to polish them off – when what should appear, but a golden, round…onion ring….huddled smack in the middle of my french fries. The manager gave me my money back in exchange for a piece of my mind. He apologized and explained that the onion rings are held in an area next to the french fries. Sheesh! I agree with previous posters; don’t even think about trusting fast food places, regardless of what their corporate policy is. I know I need to be more vigilant – especially when I’m running low on energy; even though I was prepared with my own food, my good sense was blind-sided by the BK promise.

  7. So sorry that happened to you Jayne. There is such a thing as a fryer that has a divider that protects things that are not supposed to be in it from going in. That said, it could not protect from an employee making a mistake and throwing a whole bag of onion rings in it. Still, it can keep a rogue onion ring (or whatever) from dropping into the gf fryer when items are dumped into the fryer next to it. This type of fryer is at an Outback steakhouse here and no one has ever reported any issues from eating the awesome fried gf foods they serve there. If BK or any other places really want to make gf fries, they would do well to invest in that particular type of fryer, no doubt.

  8. I have tried many gluten free beers, and only Redbridge tastes like a real beer. It tastes much like a Redhook. My boyfriend likes it so much that he drinks it regularly, even though he does not have to avoid gluten. I recommend that you try it, if you haven’t already, and if you like it, please tell others, so that this beer stays in production.

  9. Tiffany, I just read your post about the cheese on the five guys burgers. My 13 year old son is a celiac and he figured out how to solve the problem. He orders a double and asked the cheese on each burger to face inward!

  10. In & Out Restaurant is the BEST. You can eat their fries, get a protein style hamburger, & a shake all gluten free. The only thing you can’t eat there is the hamburger bun & it’s the only thing there that contains gluten! I have never had any problem there & have eaten there often, so when you come to Calif. stop in!

  11. Not safe fries! I watched them today, the guy is making the burgers, puts the bread on the grill, uses same hands with gloves and grabs a handful of the fries, throws them in fryer. OK>>FRYS NOW HAVE BREAD CRUMBS!

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