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.)

Comments

    Author:
    Ed
    Written:


    How on earth can they offer peanut free food for takeout if they have a sign on their door warning people not to come in the restaurant if they have an allergy? Are the peanut allergens that are floating around in the air in the restaurant (dust) magiacally avoiding the food they’re preparing in the kitchen?

    Obnoxious. At least Five guys makes an attempt and asks guests ahead of time to not bring peanuts outside with them so that people who may not be dining are not affected.

    I avoided Texas Roadhouse like the plague before. I’ll make a point to talk about their horrible policies with everyone I know.

    Author:
    Pam G
    Written:


    I recently visited a Texas Roadhouse only because I THOUGHT national chains were better about allergies. Not having a peanut allergy I’m not worried about that, but upon facing the menu and told they did NOT have a GF menu, but the server would help me was interesting! As an adult, there are things I enjoy – steamed veggies, plain grilled meats, baked potatoes, or breakfast foods are always something that is “sortof” safe for me although I am lactose intolerant. I won’t eat there again – even my husband who doesn’t have the allergies didn’t care for the food – it had quite a few “problems” and part of my meal had to be sent back. I ALWAYS worry in such places there will be hidden gluten in grilling, but they seemed to WANT to be accommodating. I just won’t eat there unless desperate again!

    Author:
    AiXeLsyD13
    Written:


    Hmm… I used to love it there, before they added shrimp to the menu. Haven’t been back. I sent them an email asking if it was temporary or what, they basically wrote back saying “sorry about your luck”. Ha ha.

    I don’t think every restaurant should stop serving peanuts or shellfish or anything just to appease any group… but I wouldn’t trust that my steak wasn’t fired up on the same grill as some shrimp.

    Author:
    Amy
    Written:


    I agree with Ed. It is simply the most ridiculous thing EVER to claim ordering out will avoid contamination with peanuts. If Texas Roadhouse is really consulting with Lawyers when making these statements, then the Lawyer who suggested they offer take out to those with peanut allergies- an allergy that causes DEATH, then I suggest they fire that idiot. Do your homework on allergy cross contamination before making a statement or suggestion on it.

    Author:
    Char
    Written:


    I was immediately annoyed when I read this. But I couldn’t quite figure out why so I sat on it for a while. I finally figured it out. Yes – I am allergic to almost everything, and thus having a GF menu available makes my life much more pleasant when it comes to eating out.

    But the reality is that it is NOT every restaurant’s responsibility to meet MY INDIVIDUAL needs.

    There is no law that says every food establishment in our country MUST be ABLE to feed every person regardless of their dietary requirements.

    It’s called free choice. I know that I have severe allergies to foods like wheat, yeast, soy, cow dairy, peanuts, and environmental pollen, cat & dog dander, etc. I make the choice every day to chose to go into people’s homes that have animals and plants and who will only offer me foods that I am allergic to. I make the choice to sometimes put foods that I am allergic to in my body or to go the extra step (and sometimes dollar) to avoid them. It is the choice of restaurants to serve what they want, when they want, how they want. And we can only be mad at ourselves if we chose to eat it and get sick.

    To expend the effort and energy at being mad at companies who do not want to take the time and effort to be Gluten Free / Casien Free / Soy Free / Peanut Free / Yeast Free / etc… is silly. Go spend your money and time on companies that DO want your money instead.

    Author:
    LR20
    Written:


    Although, it is sad that there are few places to eat out for those who must eat gluten-free/allergen-free, I commend Texas Roadhouse for being honest. I’d much rather be safe than have a sloppy company use the gluten-free tag line merely as a revenue scheme without being serious about providing safe food.

    Author:
    AEPaul
    Written:


    Ed, you nailed that point!

    Char, I totally agree. I’ve said the same about Five Guys and others. However, it’s important for people to KNOW that a restaurant is not allergy-friendly and Texas Roadhouse doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job at this like Five Guys does. If Texas Roadhouse can’t prevent cross-contamination then they should either fix the problem or be even more blatent in telling the enitre food allergy and intolerance community not to come inside. As I said in the post, I wouldn’t begrudge them that right, but I would certainly hold it against them if they hurt someone with poor communications and worse cooking practices.

    These are great comments. I hope there are more coming!

    Author:
    Mrsdocrse
    Written:


    My son has peanut and shellfish allergy so we have never been to Texas Road House to eat. One time my husband went to TRH to pick up a gift card for a friend that loves to eat there and was astonished at the amount of peanut shells that were all over the place he remarked that he should rinse his shoes before coming back in to our house. So, it is apparent to me that they don’t understand the risks of cross contamination if they suggest that a to go meal would be safe for a peanut allergic person. I guess I am glad to see that they are being honest about the fact that they can’t guarantee a gluten free meal. I just worry that by putting a blanket statement that they can’t guarantee a safe meal, it will give them license to be careless with cross contamination issues.

    Author:
    Tina
    Written:


    The last time I went to Texas Roadhouse I explained I had Celiac Disease and asked for a GF menu or to speak to a manager about what my choices were. The server actually laughed and replied “if you have to eat gluten free we have nothing for you.” and while still chuckling told me I should go elsewhere! Yes, the “last” time I went to Texas Roadhouse!

    Author:
    Jimmy
    Written:


    Texas Roadhouse doesn’t have a gluten free menu because it’d be incredibly small, most of the food is seasoned and if they made gluten free dinners fresh as guest requested they’d be waiting a long time. Most sides are made fresh in the morning.

    The Roadhouse that I work at has taken care of MANY guests with these allergies, cooking chicken breasts on a cleaned grill with no seasoning/butter, steaming veggies in water/oil.. So I don’t know about the Roadhouses you’ve all been too, but this blog seems entirely misleading. Maybe you’re going in there with a chip on your shoulder?

    Also to the person who posted that they don’t go there anymore because Roadhouse now sells shrimp, shrimp HAS to be cooked on a separate grill. Actually the shrimp is cooked on a flat top. A flat top specially for sea food. It’s cross contamination to cook Seafood on the same surface as steaks, chicken, etc. I’ve cooked in a Kitchen for a texas roadhouse and I can assure you I’ve NEVER seen Shrimp being cooked anywhere else besides the shrimp flat top. Actually, any restaurant that gets health inspected regularly seems like they wouldn’t cross contimate like that, it’s basic stuff.

    Author:
    P Givens
    Written:


    We went out for Christmas diner day early on Saturday night 12/24/11 at a Texas Roadhouse. The place was packed.
    My husband got sick 7 hours later with extreme nausea and violent diarrhea. He has heart disease. He had a different steak, baked potato, and salad with different salad dressing than me.
    I had grilled shrimp, rib eye steak, backed potato, salad with vinaigrette. I brought ½ home unable to finish their portions. I finished this up Monday after noon. I got violently sick Monday night starting at 8:30 pm but have had no hiccups and was better improved by Tuesday morning, and okay by Wednesday morning.
    Husband went to Cobb Hospital Emergency Thursday; 12/29/11 still sick now with watery diarrhea and multiple hiccupping averaging every 2 minutes and so bad he had trouble breathing and talking. He was told it was food poisoning. We have a three day wait for lab results for viral, bacteria, and possible results to show what kind of food caused this. He was sent home with meds. We were told he needs to go back to the doctor in three days.
    God children came up for a visit Monday through Wednesday. All dishes, bathrooms, clothes kept bleached and washed. Lysol through house daily and sprayed what could not be washed. Our God children called frantic from South Georgia Thursday night saying both are now violently sick with diarrhea and vomiting.
    I read two messages at this site. One says they are worried about Texas Roadhouse’s using same grill for seafood and steaks and have refused to eat there since they added this item to menu.
    Second message is from employee that says this never happened when he worked there and Health Department inspections prevent this.
    I worked in supervisory position with food service 8 years with a total of 16 employees at peak times of the year. We always had 97 and 100’s with inspections. They way the Health Department tested us was to come in during the day and test foods and sanitation after set up and while in use. Opportunity exists for bad food to be sold, poorly prepared food, or poorly managed and to be sold between time of opening and time of inspection or after inspection.
    I want to know if there are other reports of possible food poisoning in our area around 12/24/2011 at the Texas Roadhouse, Hiram, GA. Note copy of comments from this site below.
    • AiXeLsyD13 Says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 7:38 am
    Hmm… I used to love it there, before they added shrimp to the menu. Haven’t been back. I sent them an email asking if it was temporary or what, they basically wrote back saying “sorry about your luck”. Ha ha.
    I don’t think every restaurant should stop serving peanuts or shellfish or anything just to appease any group… but I wouldn’t trust that my steak wasn’t fired up on the same grill as some shrimp.
    http://www.allergyeats.com/blog/index.php/has-texas-roadhouse-given-up-on-the-food-allergy-and-gluten-free-community/
    • Jimmy Says:
    December 15th, 2011 at 5:58 pm
    Texas Roadhouse doesn’t have a gluten free menu because it’d be incredibly small, most of the food is seasoned and if they made gluten free dinners fresh as guest requested they’d be waiting a long time. Most sides are made fresh in the morning.
    The Roadhouse that I work at has taken care of MANY guests with these allergies, cooking chicken breasts on a cleaned grill with no seasoning/butter, steaming veggies in water/oil.. So I don’t know about the Roadhouses you’ve all been too, but this blog seems entirely misleading. Maybe you’re going in there with a chip on your shoulder?
    Also to the person who posted that they don’t go there anymore because Roadhouse now sells shrimp, shrimp HAS to be cooked on a separate grill. Actually the shrimp is cooked on a flat top. A flat top specially for sea food. It’s cross contamination to cook Seafood on the same surface as steaks, chicken, etc. I’ve cooked in a Kitchen for a texas roadhouse and I can assure you I’ve NEVER seen Shrimp being cooked anywhere else besides the shrimp flat top. Actually, any restaurant that gets health inspected regularly seems like they wouldn’t cross contimate like that, it’s basic stuff.

    Author:
    Katie
    Written:


    You know what??? I’m live in Ft Bragg, NC and the cook is actually
    on a gluten free diet. They have a gluten free menu. It might be dated from 2006 but it works.

    Author:
    Lauren
    Written:


    I work at a Texas Roadhouse. It’s an amazing place to work. There aren’t any peanuts in the kitchen, or anywhere near the food. That’s how we can assure you that your carry-out order is peanut free. When we bring it through the part of the restaurant where there is peanut dust on the ground, your food should already be in a to-go box, packaged in a bag… which never touches the peanut-covered floor. We will bring it out to your car; some locations even deliver.
    Also, I think that the removal of the gluten-free menu is more honest than anything. With the volume of people a restaurant gets on a busy night, there is NO way to guarantee that a dish is 100% gluten free, especially at a restaurant where the majority of the things on the menu contain a vast amount of seasonings and breadings,etc. Usually we can accomodate for people that do have a gluten allergy though, or any other issue. There’s a couple that comes in regularly for whom we prepare our fish fry for, they bring in their own gluten-free mixture which we make into batter and fry their fish with. Really, you can ask to get your meal prepared in a variety of alternative ways. And the person who commented before me is right. Shrimp are cooked seperately. And the person above that… food poisoning isn’t contagious…
    They do what they can to make their guests satisfied. Would you prefer that we said we could offer a gluten-free menu, but never mentioned we can’t guarantee it’s 100% gluten free? And the peanuts are just a part of the company image. Peanut allergies do vary, we get many guests who come in regardless of their allergy and we haven’t had a single problem. You can’t please everyone; I think Roadhouse does a pretty good job of trying to accomodate guests with food allergies.

    Author:
    Terri
    Written:


    I don’t trust any restaurant with fixing meat. Even if they leave off seasoning and grill it plain it is tossed on same grill everything else is cooked on. It will pick up gluten from last food that was on there. They don’t have the time or won’t take the time to clean the grill. Be safe, don’t eat anything that is fried or grilled. Eat plain steamed veggies, plain baked potatoes, plain salads. Or just eat at home where you know what you’re eating.

    Author:
    Amy
    Written:


    I just don’t like having to ask the manager, assistant manager, chef, cook, etc. to come out and talk to me about my GF choices. It’s embarrassing. Yes, I would rather be safe than sorry, but in my experience the last year since diagnosed Celiac, when we go out with friends or family it restricts a normal dining experience. A couple of times, a chef/cook has come out to talk to me about my choices and there was really only one option-well that was a waste of everyone’s time. I would rather TRH offer a gluten free menu with a disclaimer that they cannot guarantee 100% GF, so I know at least what some options are without having to talk to a manager who doesn’t really know what to say to me. Whether I am talking to a manager or ordering from a GF menu, I am still taking a risk even eating at your restaurant, but that is my choice. So let’s eliminate confusion, hesitation, and frustration of having to “wait to talk to someone” on an extremely busy night, and just get a GF menu-even if it IS limited choices. If I have questions, I will ask.

    Author:
    Alyson
    Written:


    We are eating at one right now in Harlingen, and the gave us typed GF menus.

    Author:
    val
    Written:


    I realize that restaurants do not need to please the entire population. However, I am always amazed (dismayed) that places such as TRH don’t care that they are putting people with LIFE-THREATENING allergies (i.e. peanuts)at risk. There is a TRH opening in our area and I went online to check out the peanut situation. My son is highly allergic. Needless to say, we won’t be going there.

    Author:
    Betty
    Written:


    We love Texas Roadhouse but we
    Have had to stop all of our family
    Get tougethers there’re because
    As soon as we walk in my granddaughters
    Peanut allergery kicks in and her
    Eyes start to swell shut from the
    Peanut dust wish we could still
    Visit but cant

    Author:
    Steve
    Written:


    I was pleasantly surprised on my first and only visit to TRH that they were able to bring me a gluten free menu. I ordered a steak and a salad off the gluten free menu, and they first brought me a salad with croutons. I made them bring me another, which didn’t have any visible croutons, but after I had eaten a few bites I found croutons in it as well. I complained again and they brought me another that didn’t have croutons. When they brought the steak they switched mine with someone else’s on the table, and we were almost finished before we figured it out and I realized I had been eating a steak seasoned with gluten. I got extremely sick and couldn’t eat again for almost two full days. I sent an email complaint to the manager. It’s been over two weeks and no response so far. My advice to anyone with an allergy would be to stay as far away from TRH as possible! What I can’t figure out is why they bother to have a gluten free menu if they don’t even try to accommodate individuals with allergen issues. It’s almost like they’re looking for a lawsuit or something.

    Author:
    joem789
    Written:


    You whiny *** people need to grow up. If you can’t handle the food from Texas Roadhouse than go somewhere else. I’m sick of people crying about “equal rights” like a bunch of spoiled children. Common sense tells me that if I am allergic to something, I don’t go around trying to change the world to accommodate me. I’ll just DO THE RIGHT THING and go some place that does suit me. The world is full of different things! I would rather be optimistic instead of some pessimistic ******* today’s generation seems to be breeding by the many.

    I’ll take my Texas steak full of bad things over a healthy restaurant full of ****** anyday. Thank you.

    Author:
    Traci
    Written:


    When our peanut allergic child left for college we got to go to TX Roadhouse, and we enjoyed it. Now she is home and we can’t risk going. The peanut dust and cross contamination wouldn’t be worth it! But there are lots of alternatives where we live, but it’s a bummer!

    Author:
    Michael
    Written:


    Call the Whambulance. People complaining about this are adult babies in need of assistance. “A chain isn’t catering to my specific minute faction.” Get over it. There are endless numbers of other restaurants you can frequent. Don’t expect a company to reduce the experience of the overwhelming majority for your benefit, so selfish.

    P.S. I don’t have a peanut allergy, or any allergies for that matter and I don’t eat at Texas Roadhouse. It’s not that hard, in fact it is one of the easiest things I’ve not done.

    Author:
    Me
    Written:


    Peanut dust or cross contamination isn’t even the problem, they use peanut oil so it doesn’t matter if they bring the food out to your car, if it’s cooked in peanut oil, defeats the purpose. I knew they had peanuts in the building, my son has a peanut allergy and we always take the peanuts off the table and have never had a problem, this last time we went he had a reaction because he had chicken strips and I don’t remember seeing on the menu that the food is cooked in peanut oil. In fact, when I called up there the next day to ask, the waitress had no idea and had to go back to the kitchen to ask the cooks.

    Author:
    Erik
    Written:


    No roadhouses use peanut oil. Its not even on the inventory list.if yall dont like it dont come here. You dont want to see ******* dont go to a strip club simple as that. Any one who is bitching on this website is no true american. America land of the free dont criticize a company for doing its thing. Its a fun environment for kids and adults if thats your thing belive it or not there are other restaurants out there.i would be happy To to answer any questions related to contaminants or allergies that any of you may have

    Author:
    Fromthehorsesmouth
    Written:


    “…We have attempted to provide some information in the past, but we pulled back after some guests complained we were not detailed enough. In addition, some enterprising folks tested the food, and when it fell outside the guidelines, they threatened legal action. As such, we stopped providing our special gluten-free menu, for example. …”

    http://www.texasroadhouse.com/contact-us#nutritional-information

    I completely understand the concerns listed in the article and in the comments. However, it looks like Texas Roadhouse would prefer the difficult choice of alienating a certain demographic (customers with particular food allergies) than to get sued. If they can’t guarantee that a certain item is 100% safe for those with food allergies is it not MORE respectful of them to simply say, “we’re sorry but we would rather turn you away than make you sick (and of course subsequently get sued).”

    Author:
    Brad Christianson
    Written:


    I can’t believe how much these chains are poorly handling food allergies no gluten free BARRELS OF PEANUTS. And what about cross@-contamination with peanuts

    Author:
    Kim
    Written:


    To the people who keep saying, “stop whining!” or “go somewhere else, duh!”, I encourage you to check your food-sensitivity privilege.

    People have friends and family. They tend to like to celebrate with food, which usually means restaurants. And if these restaurants show a willful disregard for people with life-altering (if not threatening) allergies, then how can you say those things? How can you expect me to tell my good friend that I can’t go to her birthday dinner because I don’t know if I can safely eat? How can I expect her to move it and tell 10+ other people she’s moving it? How embarrassing would that be? And how embarrassing and awkward would it be to have to sit there with only water while everyone else is eating (something I’ve had to do before).

    So how about we try to understand why it’s important for a restaurant to at least make an actual effort to accommodate, instead of writing off an entire community as whiny babies? It’s as simple as a menu that lists the common allergens, and a notice to the kitchen that an effort should be made to reduce cross-contamination. Yes, the warning that it’s not 100% is fine, but you can’t just stop there.

    Author:
    Liz
    Written:


    The only thing that i know i am allergic to is sulfa. Went to Texas Roadhouse,had sirloin. Woke up the next morning with a swollen, itchy neck. Wonder what was in my food?

    Author:
    Will U Stop
    Written:


    I understand how alarmed the peanut allergy “community” is about how one restaurant doesn’t meet their needs. However, one restaurant does not a trend make. The fact is…Texas Roadhouse doesn’t give a flip about your allergy, or whining. They know you’ll NOT eat at their restaurants and they’d prefer you don’t. They’ve made every effort to graciously and nicely say, “we don’t want to go through the aggravation of changes to serve you.” If your party invitation inconveniences you, that NOT their problem. It’s yours. Deal with it. They have the freedom to run their business how they want, even though they have to tolerate your vitriol.

    Author:
    Wiz
    Written:


    All of these people complaining about the TRH not suiting their peanut allergy needs, its’s a place full of peanuts what more can you expect? Go to the outback steakhouse where they do not serve peanuts by the barrel. This is coming from someone with a PA/TN allergy, Ive eaten at Texas Roadhouses in NV, TX, NE, AZ and with my PA/TN allergy ive never had a problem. Not my favorite place to go because of the stupid amount of peanuts on the floor and in the air but still it is what they are known for and they aren’t going to change their traditions for a handful of people like myself and others.

    Author:
    Jerzy
    Written:


    Agree with Wiz and “will U stop”. If you have peanut allergy stay use common sense and stay away. If you are a vegan do not go to steak house. Let’s others enjoy stakes and peanuts, this is what freedom is all about. Do not impose your problems on others. There are other places that serve food. You need to take responsiblilty for yourself. I can not stand people who keep whining about their allergies. When I have a guest that has severe alergy and they keep asking to accomodate I ask them to bring their own food and not eat the one I serve.

    Big fan of peanuts and steaks. Thanks TRH for sticking to your guns.

    –j

    Author:
    Linda
    Written:


    I have numerous allergies but still go to Texas Roadhouse because my husband loves it there. So I get the vegetable platter. I get a house salad and ask for romaine instead of iceberg and dressing on side, baked potato or sweet potato plain, steamed veggies no butter, and Mac n cheese off kids menu or applesauce. You don’t have to get meat. I would like them to offer a tomato or vegetable soup as do not like their chili. Ruby Tuesday and Uno’s are great restaurants for people with allergies. Just an FYI.

    Author:
    K
    Written:


    I mean to the people saying get over it or whiny babies you do realize its allergy eats a forum specifically designed to discuss allergies.

    That being said I do agree that any restaurant has its own branding and has a right to serve what it wants.
    Im glad trh is admitting it cant guarantee gf and should probably amend its peanut and/or shrimp free because the information is conflicting.

    No ones calling for tbh to turn into texas veggiehouse.

    Ill say as an allergy suffer we just vent sometimes and get bummed we cant try a spot safely. Most of us know and do avoid it.

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