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BURGER FUEL; NOT the fuel for gluten free!
To the Coeliacs out there, BEWARE of Burgerfuel!
It was not that long ago that I recently stumbled across BURGER FUEL. I have heard rumours time and time again that they offer gluten free buns! YES!!! They offer gluten free rolls that apparently not only look delicious but ARE delicious. They are also wheat free, dairy free, soy free and fructose friendly!
...that is, until you read their disclaimer on their gluten free flyer:
Gluten Free Flyer (page 2)
False Gluten Free Advertising...
"Whilst the utmost care is taken in the preparation of our burgers, we cannot guarantee that there hasn't been cross contamination with a gluten product."
What's worse is that I then found the following statement:
"The motobites and beer battered fries (when available) also contain gluten however our spud and kumara fries should be OK to eat. They are cooked in the same frier as gluten products. This should only affect those who are severely intolerant."
Some of the information and advice contained in this so-called 'gluten free' flyer is sickening.
Individuals with Coeliac Disease HAVE to avoid ALL traces of gluten. Stereotyping us as being 'severely sensitive' is WRONG! Most gluten free individuals do react to small amounts of gluten (i.e. contaminated in deep fryer oil) and this nonchalant attitude about labelling and advertising HAS TO STOP!!
Have they any idea of coeliac disease or what a gluten free diet involves? Clearly it seems as thoughall they're trying to do is exploit a niche target group, without giving any thought to the needs of us, as consumers. Just because one may not experience any noticeable discomfort after consuming gluten, it doesn't mean that long-term gut damage has not occurred! GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, BURGERFUEL!
The "FUEL" in not only their food but also in their information is certainly neither the best fuel for treating coeliac disease, nor educating one about how a gluten free diet should be managed, is it?
It is illegal to refer to something as gluten free when it isn't guaranteed to be free of detectable gluten or contain no oats or malted gluten containing cereals.
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.
These conditions MUST be met for foods to be labelled as gluten free in Australia and New Zealand! If they aren't, advertising a product as such is illegal.
It is so sad to see businesses undermining the implications of coeliac disease and taking our condition so lightly.
EDITED: ADDED ON 17-8-10: I have received a response from BURGERFUEL and they have made it clear that they firstly do not intend to exploit any customer entering their store and secondly, that product testing has been undertaken in New Zealand with the local Coeliac Society, who has observed and guided them in preparing their products (i.e. identifying fillings, sauces, etc.). The buns are certified gluten free. I would have, most probably, not accounted for this business so soon, except their statement about the 'chips' as outlined above was something I found rather appalling.
ADDED ON 18-8-10: I feel that the best motive in offering gluten free food for customers is this. It's simple. Just don't promote the products as gluten free. Don't mention the word 'gluten' in terms of a product being free of it when it may not be. Perhaps rename the bun (e.g. rice bun, light bun, or something reasonable). Let consumers know in an allergen listing by leaving the presence symbol out. Also indicate on your website that you aim to cater for a large range of dietary requirements. I have added a desirable example below. You could even include the allergen listing on your website and use a disclaimer, no customer could complain at all with this strategy in place.
You might even find some of your non-coeliac customers choose the 'light bun' (see below):
SAMPLE ONLY Allergen Table
EDITED TO ADD: Email Discussion w/BurgerFuel following this post
I am very disappointed to see that you are falsely advertising your products as gluten free and then adding a disclaimer. Legally, you cannot advertise something as gluten free unless it IS COMPLETELY free of detectable gluten, oats or malted gluten containing cereals. I have posted my concerns on my online hub so others are aware: http://hubpages.com/hub/BURGERFUEL-Not-the-best-ch
Kelly, we've read your comments on your hub and understand where you're coming from. It may be easier if you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further but, here are a few points that aren't on our advertising that might be helpful. All our Gluten Free product testing has been done in NZ in conjunction with the NZ Coeliac Society, who literally sat and watched our teams prepare items and read over ingredient labels on all other items in the bun, down to the level of what sauces we used in our various burgers etc. The Gluten Free Buns are 100% Gluten Free, you just need to keep in mind that our store, much like any other restaurant or cafe has non-gluten free items (like our normal buns) in the kitchen as well and that is what we are alluding to in our disclaimer. I hope this makes sense, we're not trying to falsely advertising anything, we're just treating create an opportunity for gluten intolerant to eat in a 'normal' place. In fact, a lot of our stores have separate toasters to take things even further for some of their Coeliac customers, even though the Coeliac Society didn't think it would be necessary. Again, please email us so we can clear our the other concerns for you. I assure you, we're not trying to exploit anyone, in fact if anyone gets exploited here at BurgerFuel it's me (just kidding).
Thank you for your kind reply,
This is a concern of many places that offer 'gluten free' food and I am not in any way singling you out as a business. My other hub topics illustrate this well. The thing that got me most was the statement about the gluten free 'chips' not being a problem when they're deep fried in the same oil as other items and that they would only affect 'severely sensitive' individuals.
The basis of my objection to this was the fact that individuals affected by coeliac disease have to avoid all forms of gluten. Any amount ingested will, no matter how small the amount, affect these individuals in some way or another. Even if one does not experience discomfort from a small amount of gluten (i.e. due to cross-contamination), damage of the small bowel and inflammation of the villi may occur.
There are an awfully large number of newcomers to the gluten free diet and an ever-increasing number of coeliac patients due to this. My aim in publishing concerns about businesses online is to create awareness amongst the general public of the risks associated with coeliac disease and the ordering of gluten free food. Each business is equal in my opinion and I have absolutely no intention of being unfair. For this reason, I have accounted for a range of businesses that serve foods advertised as gluten free with a disclaimer.
I am pleased to hear that you have taken so many preventative measures in your stores and am glad that you are putting a lot of work into making your buns not only gluten free but also allergen free. I have edited my page to help clarify some matters on http://hubpages.com/hub/BURGERFUEL-Not-the-best-ch based on your response.
Thanks for getting back so quick, you obviously takes this very seriously which is great for us, as we actually take it quite seriously as well. Perhaps, if you were in NZ you might understand where we’re coming from more if you knew what we’re like and how seriously we take things. For a long time we’ve been providing healthier and more wholesome alternatives to the normal fast food selection for the public, including NZ Vegetarian Society approved patties (even a proper 100% certified vegan pattie), we even offer alternatives for muslims wanting Halal meat.
I think this is perhaps a case of too much information as opposed to disinformation. All the disclaimers in our advertising are in conjunction with the NZ Coeliac Society (NZCS) and based on what they have advised us. On the matter of the fries specifically, when we did the initial tests we didn’t have Beer Battered Fries on the menu (it comes on as a special). As soon as we decided to bring on Beer Battered Fries and Motobites we called our NZCS contacts and asked them how this affected our fires. They told us that because of the low amount of gluten content and the high heat that it was only “trace” elements – but nothing to worry about it as they themselves were fine with us and they would continue eating the chips. We decided to take this further by putting it on the flyer so that the choice could be made by our customers and not us, I hope this makes sense. We could have easily just left it out, but we wanted to give our gluten intolerant customers the information on how much risk they want to take. Essentially there is gluten there, but the NZCS said it was a negligible amount from their perspective.
On the issue of cross contamination for the buns, we simply cannot avoid the fact that we also have wholemeal buns which contain gluten in our kitchen. We cannot completely eliminate gluten from our kitchens, but we have ensured that our gluten free buns are exactly that. I guess the best way to think of it is that, it is similar to a situation with you visiting a friend who has specifically bought gluten free bread for you to make a sandwich, but has also made a sandwich for themselves using normal bread. I’m sure they would be very careful, but couldn’t 100% guarantee no cross contamination. In our stores we make sure separate utensils are used and staff are very clear on being extra careful with gluten free orders, additionally even though we were advised that it was unnecessary, our stores with high volumes of gluten intolerant customers also have separate toasters for the gluten free buns.
I hope this clarifies a few of the areas and assures you that we’re not falsely advertising, but also more importantly that BurgerFuel is about as close as you can get to getting a good gluten free option in a food establishment that also serves items that has gluten in them.
Thanks for your time, again, let me know if you have any further queries or points you’d like to raise, as ultimately anything we can do to better serve our gluten intolerant customers is certainly more than welcomed,
Thank you for your informative response. You have done more than most businesses of my concern and I am pleased you are taking these issues seriously (i.e. using separate toasters, etc.).
The reason I take this seriously is due to the fact that many food service businesses have blindly promoted products as gluten free in the past without giving much thought to the dangers associated with Coeliac Disease (i.e. topping a gluten free base on a floured board, etc.).
I have outlined a useful strategy I have provided to various businesses to overcome similar issues (updated 18-08-10). Perhaps this may be a useful approach down the track.
Just had a quick look at the site and from the point of view of somebody who wasn’t aware of your initial post and the communication you have had with Lex since then it looks a wee bit like we sued you! Haha we both know that’s not true but it does look like we either put out a hit on you or threatened you with our company lawyer.
Feel free to post our responses on the forum, for us it’s more about getting the information out there because at the end of the day if you had concerns then it’s possible that other people do too and if the information is there readily available then these people can access it and learn from it also.
Katie Du Fall