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Ninety Nine (99) Restaurants - FALSE Gluten Free Menu (with a DISCLAIMER!)

Updated on October 31, 2010
Misleading 'gluten free' Information comes from this destination!
Misleading 'gluten free' Information comes from this destination! | Source


So, it appears as though NINETY NINE (99) RESTAURANTS now offers a GLUTEN FREE MENU. Located in various states along the Eastern side of the United States of America; including Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont; this place (at first sight) appears to offer quite some decent gluten free options for diners with Celiac (coeliac) Disease. That is, until the disclaimer beneath all other text on the menu 'greets you' as you get ready to order!

Excerpt from the Gluten Free Menu:

"Please inform your server of any dietary concerns. Your best source for health information and guidance is your physician. Please don’t take this menu as medical advice. It is an informational resource only, and we are not responsible for how you use this information. Consult your physician if you have questions about whether certain foods may cause allergic reactions. We take great care to ensure the foods offered on this menu are free of gluten and gluten derivatives, but we are not responsible for individual reactions to any foods and cannot guarantee that the foods we serve are allergen-free."

At first sight, I was absolutely speechless. I could neither say nor think a word. To be honest, I was absolutely petrified about ever entering this venue should I ever travel to that area of the US and most certainly will be avoiding this destination at all reasonable costs.

It is MISLEADING to advertise a food item as 'gluten free' if it may come into contact with gluten. Under the FDA, a product cannot be labelled as 'GLUTEN FREE' unless the following conditions are MET!

Excerpt from FDA Food Labelling Regulations:

FDA proposes to define the term "gluten-free" to mean that a food bearing this claim in its labeling does not contain any one of the following:

  • An ingredient that is a prohibited grain
  • An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  • An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has been processed to remove gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food or
  • 20 ppm or more gluten

Based on the food law, a product cannot legally be advertised or promoted on a menu or fact sheet as gluten free UNLESS IT IS! How hard is it for businesses to understand this.
Leave your comments below and bring your opinions across. To be honest, this destination is a no-goer for ANY celiac out there and I feel that it absolutely STINKS that this food organisation is exploiting celiacs like simply a NICHE Target Group!


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    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 6 years ago from Australia

      CAJS, Coeliac disease is not simply an intolerance to gluten. It is a serious auto-immune disease. A vast majority of cases currently remain undiagnosed and many still look onto our condition as though it's a complete joke (e.g. my post on from a few weeks ago highlights this more clearly).

      Although some individuals with coeliac disease may not experience noticeable signs of discomfort from 'trace elements' of gluten, many will most certainly be doing long term damage to their bodies by continual consumption of even these small amounts. This can induce an enormous variety of long-term complications.

      As for anaphylaxis, many individuals are also allergic to wheat. So yes, having broccoli blanched in pasta water would indeed send some into anaphylactic shock.

      There are also many other forms of gluten sensitivity that affect individuals and many of these cause the need to adopt a 100% gluten free diet as well.

    • profile image

      CAJS 6 years ago

      I'm sorry, folks but the crazy increase in food allergy claims in recent years is enough to make me want to pull my hair out. There is a very measurable and significant medical difference between an allergy and an intolerance. Having broccoli blanched in pasta water will not send you into anaphalactic shock. And going gluten-free is not recommended unless you actually have coeliac disease. And really, there are no guarantees in life as a general rule. If there was no disclaimer, you would most likely complain that they weren't being honest about the potential for cross contamination. If it is such an issue, don't eat out! In my experience, being a completely irrational individual having a tantrum and sounding like a whining child doesn't actually get much done (I was 13 once myself). You'll get more credibility, respect, and change by being professional.

    • profile image

      allansass 7 years ago

      people all talk about gluten contamination

      how does gluten get in the the wheat when it is grinded

      from the field

      can someone explain this

      glute is one of the main culprits of diabetss coats the pancreas ,thus preventing nutrients to be taken up adequately and causes blockages in your blood stream..

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Maybe I got these facts wrong. But in that case, why would the then use a disclaimer? Doesn't make sense at all!

    • profile image

      Robin 7 years ago

      I hate to be the one to burst the author's bubble but he needs to check his facts. There is no FDA regulation regarding Gluten-Free labeling. It is only a PROPOSED law and as of right now anyone can label anything they want as gluten-free without any legal recourse in the United States. However, most reputable food companies follow the World Heath Organization's standard for gluten-free. As far as the 99s, or any restaurant really, is concerned they have to make that disclaimer (too many outside variables) and we as consumers need to make the choice whether or not to eat in their establishment. You are ultimately responsible for your own health and what you choose to put into your body. Are you going to trust that a line cook making $6/hour washed his knife before cutting into your GF chicken dish? Neither are the attorneys for these big corporations. As someone who suffers from gluten intolerance, it sucks. But get real with your expectations, people! If even the slightest crumb of gluten will send you into a serious allergic reaction, why would you even risk someone else preparing your food?

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Donna, that's so awful. No one should have to put up with that, and if you would like me to put in a word I'd be more than happy to do so if you email me by hitting the 'contact infonolan' link just under my profile picture at the top right hand side of the above post. I'm really sorry about your dining experience. And to claim an item as gluten free, on top of that, that is just wrong!

    • profile image

      Donna 7 years ago

      I ate at a resturant that offered a gluton free menu the other day, When I was lamost finished with a side of plain broccoli, found a piece of pasta in the dish. Upon inquiring with the manager I was informed that the broccoli was boiled in the pot of reused pasta water. Although the Manager was concerned , the cook had been uneduacted. I would think that this blatent disregard would fall under gross neglegence laws, and the broccoli was deliberately contaminated, Not just a meer cross contamination issue. This has scared me into not wanting to trust any dining establishment ever again.

    • profile image

      Mick_J 7 years ago

      Michael is 100% correct the laws are completely different. And until you can prove otherwise I think it's best you stop bagging out companies. I don't think you understand that they can do what they do because the intended ingredients are gluten free, how can any restaurant guarantee that they can't get cross contamination if they serve food with gluten. Can you please show me any restaurant that serves gluten free food in an environment that has gluten that has no disclaimer.

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Isn't your interpretation on this matter very interesting. The food labelling laws I have read don’t mention anything about only being allowed to call something gluten free if it is manufactured in a factory environment. The laws states that food can only be claimed gluten free when it is in fact, gluten free (as outlined above). People reading this post may think twice about eating at Ninety Nine Restaurants if they or their friends/family are coeliacs as I might have just trusted the labelling laws and assumed that the items marked as 'gluten free' on the gluten free menu, are in fact gluten free. If there's any chance of cross-contamination, and they cannot be guaranteed gluten free, they aren't gluten free. Simple!

    • profile image

      michael 7 years ago

      restaurant menus are not under the same "laws" as packaged foods made in a factory. Obviously they are covering themselves from a legal stand point. They are saying cross contamination does occur, and if it does we make no warranties. The menu is gluten free but the kitchen is not. If you want to be absolutely certain you will not get gluten in your food, eat at home.

    • profile image

      SJerZGirl 7 years ago

      I think they're doing the same thing snack companies do when they indicate that certain items are made using the same machinery that processes wheat or nuts or dairy, etc. While the product itself may meet the intended goals, there may be no way to guarantee that it hasn't come in contact with other items that don't. They may well have been sued by someone at some point and are being overly cautious.

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      It's obviously an issue with this business! I would say if they're providing a disclaimer (ON A GLUTEN FREE MENU), clearly there are concerns with regard to food preparation and prevention of cross-contamination. My position is simple. Legally, food items/products cannot be marked as 'gluten free' unless they ARE gluten free (according to the relevant legislation).

    • profile image

      Karen 7 years ago

      I wonder if they are covering themselves legally, in case of accidental cross-contamination?