Gluten Free Goodies at McDonald's McCafe - NOT!!

McCafe

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McDonald's McCafe Australia

McCafe is just that, a cafe located at many McDonald's restaurants throughout Australia! It is a place where various Rainforest Alliance coffees as well as treats, frappes, cakes and other goodies are sold. I personally quite like McDonald's overall as it is one of VERY few places here in Australia where the French Fries are consistently cooked ON THEIR OWN! Very unique for a place these days, which is quite impressive indeed.

Sadly, however, the news about them is not all good, as there is a little 'bit' of a marketing 'ploy' going on here.

All of the cake items and desserts that are pre-manufactured and supplied to McCafe that are seemingly gluten free are labelled as "GLUTEN FREE". This all sounds great until you see a disclaimer stating that all products sold may not be completely free of allergens due to handling. Excerpt from the McCafe Allergen Listing (as of September 2010 - found on the McDonald's Australia Nutrition Page of the website).

Disclaimer in relation to allergens (excerpt from McCafe September 2010 Listing)
Disclaimer in relation to allergens (excerpt from McCafe September 2010 Listing) | Source

False Gluten Free Advertising at McCafe

DISCLAIMER - The above text reads as:

"Please be aware that there is always a risk that traces of allergens may be transferred to items on our menu during processing, storage or preparation in our kitchens. McDonald's Restaurants are therefore unable to guarantee that any item sold is free from traces of allergens."

They don't label their sold items as nut free; they don't label their sold items as dairy free; they don't label their sold items as egg free; they don't label their sold items as soy free. Yet they exploit the growing coeliac population as a NICHE TARGET GROUP and DO label their items as "GLUTEN FREE" (when they possibly aren't)?!

IT INFURIATES me to see such businesses treating the coeliac population with such little respect or consideration at ALL! ESPECIALLY when they can't even guarantee their products to be *gluten free*, again I make reference to the disclaimer above!

Have they absolutely NO IDEA of the laws here in Australia?! Have they not a clue about the false MISLEADING advertising they are portraying? Do they even care ONE BIT about their consumers? From what I hear, over half the time, the staff don't even use clean utensils when handling the so-called "GLUTEN FREE" *snort* *snort* items!

It STINKS!

All in all, there is a simple way to overcome this! Just don't label the relevant products as 'gluten free'! Make the information available in an appropriate allergen listing format, as has already been done and leave it at that. Most of the general public are not interested in whether a product is 'gluten free' or not! Using the 'Gluten Free' term to describe a product as such when it may not be is ILLEGAL in Australia and Coeliacs need to learn to ask questions about items and be able to make informed decisions. You may even find more non-coeliac individuals happily consuming some of the *GF* cakes as well, which may make the friands, jaffa tortes and orange/almond minis an even better seller. Be realistic and sensible. Comply with the law. DON'T be misleading!

Below are some images to effectively highlight this issue:

Sample Cards used in McCafe Restaurants - Current vs. Recommended labelling strategies:

Visual Representation of Current McCafe Description Cards used in-store
Visual Representation of Current McCafe Description Cards used in-store
Visual Representation of Desirable and Legal McCafe Description Cards used in-store - GF label omitted!
Visual Representation of Desirable and Legal McCafe Description Cards used in-store - GF label omitted!

Gluten Free Labelling Laws:  Excerpt from FSANZ (page 15)  http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/ACF2A90.pdf

Gluten Free Labelling Laws

Claims in relation to gluten content of food

(1) Claims in relation to the gluten content of food are prohibited unless expressly permitted by this code.

(2) A claim to the effect that a food is gluten free must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains –
-- (a) no detectable gluten; and
-- (b) no –
-- -- (i) oats or their products; or
-- -- (ii) cereals containing gluten that have been malted/their products.

IT IS ILLEGAL TO DECLARE SOMETHING AS GLUTEN FREE IF AN WHEN IT MIGHT NOT BE!  IT IS ILLEGAL.  A PRODUCT IS EITHER GLUTEN FREE, OR IT ISN'T AND IF IT IS CROSS-CONTAMINATED, IT WILL MOST PROBABLY IF NOT MOST DEFINITELY CONTAIN DETECTABLE GLUTEN!  THE GLUTEN FREE TERM OVERRIDES ANY DISCLAIMER WITH REGARD TO A PRODUCT AND THEREFORE A PRODUCT MUST NOT BE LABELLED AS GLUTEN FREE, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, IF THERE MAY BE ANY CONCERN AT ALL!

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Comments 4 comments

Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

I'm going to have to pay attention to see if McD's claims some of their products are gluten free here in the states. Interesting article.


Lizam1 profile image

Lizam1 4 years ago from Victoria BC

Thanks for alerting me to this. I don't go to Mc's much but if I do I'll certainly watch out. Last time I was in (in Canada) there were no gwf options.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 4 years ago from Australia Author

Haven't been to Canada or the United States for quite a while so I'm not sure about what's on offer over there. Here in Australia, all McDonald's Restaurants have a McCafe where they sell cakes and Rainforest Alliance coffee. A few of the cakes are gluten free, but are often handled with the same utensils, which is unfortunate (and illegal, seeing as though they are using a "gluten free" label in the first place).

Thanks for commenting!


LauraGSpeaks profile image

LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

This is true of many of the restaurants in the US that claim to offer gluten free food but then have a disclaimer that says there may be risk of cross contamination due to using the same food prep surfaces or cooking oil. You have to be so careful when eating out.

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