Has Texas Roadhouse given up on the food allergy and gluten-free community?
Every week, it seems I see another restaurant chain add or expand their gluten-free menu, another new bakery sensitive to food allergies open, or another consumer products company add gluten-free versions of their popular foods. Rarely do I recall a company “backtracking” on food allergies or gluten-free.
So I was quite surprised when I saw Texas Roadhouse state on their website that they can no longer offer a gluten-free menu! The problem, according to the statement, is not that they can’t make gluten-free dishes, but that they can’t assure diners that cross-contamination or a change in ingredients won’t occur.
Texas Roadhouse is already “unfriendly” to those with a peanut allergy, as are a few other chains that believe peanuts strewn about the restaurant is a key part of their image (see Five Guys Burgers & Fries… and peanuts, and more peanuts, and more!). I don’t begrudge them that – they have every right to create the image they want. However, the combination of these seems to suggest that Texas Roadhouse understands they cannot safely handle any food allergies or intolerances. If they don’t believe they are prepared to prevent cross-contamination when it comes to gluten-free, then they are obviously not comfortable enough to welcome any diner with food allergies either.
(Maybe it will therefore come as no surprise to learn that Texas Roadhouse has a dismal 2.95 (out of 5) chain-wide AllergyEats allergy-friendliness rating.)
At least that’s my take. Some might say that this is a legal means of not guaranteeing anything, which may be the case, but I’ve never seen a restaurant add a gluten-free menu and then backtrack like this. My guess, and it’s just that, is that there have been an inordinate number of cross-contamination problems such that the lawyers felt the need to get involved and eliminate the gluten-free menu.
That said, the statement does suggest that diners should still come to the restaurants and work with the local management to make “informed menu choices.” But what is the only informed choice if cross-contamination is a concern? How about “Where’s that door we came in?”
There seem to be many ways to translate this statement, so let’s hear your opinions. What is your first reaction? Is this just “legalese” or is it a huge red flag for our community? Is Texas Roadhouse being responsible by sharing this information with us or irresponsible for not trying harder to prevent cross-contamination like so many other restaurants? And if you’ve been to a Texas Roadhouse, how has your experience been? Have you ever gotten sick? (We would of course love to hear from a representative of Texas Roadhouse as well.)
Also, please remember to rate all of your recent dining experiences at the core AllergyEats website (www.allergyeats.com). Each time you take just a minute to answer 3 questions about the last time you ate out, you are increasing the value of AllergyEats for the entire food allergy and intolerance community.
(FYI, for those who would like to see Texas Roadhouse’s statement on peanuts, here it is.)