Wednesday, February 15, 2006

McDonald's USA now states that its fries are made with "wheat and milk ingredients." Yet it's possible that the fries may still be "safe" for celiacs to eat.

According to this MSNBC article, the McDonald's disclosure does not reflect any change in the recipe. It's just an acknowledgement of sources of already existing ingredients.

"We knew there were always wheat and dairy derivatives in there, but they were not the protein component," says Cathy Kapica, McDonald's director of global nutrition, in the article. "Technically there are no allergens in there."

Celiacs and people with allergies react to proteins, so fries made without proteins from wheat should be safe for celiacs to eat. That explains Kapica's position that, as the article put it, "those who have eaten the product without problem should be able to continue to do so without incident."

Yet the McDonald's website contradicts Kapica. On this list, the French fries are marked as containing gluten. French fries are also absent from the chain's list of gluten-free foods. (At the time of this post, both lists were dated February 8, 2006.)

The contradiction between what McDonald's nutrition expert says and what the company's website says makes me glad that I've avoided McDonald's fries ever since I've been on the gluten-free diet. My reasoning had nothing to do with whether their ingredients contained gluten; I just didn't think they were worth the risk because of a chance of cross-contamination at the restaurant. I still don't think they're worth taking a risk, especially on a regular basis.

Here is a press statement on the issue from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.


Radha said...

I'm lactose intolerent but I have a few friends who
are any case, I posted a few comments about this great
pizzeria on the upper east side that offers gluten free crusts called
Slice the Perfect Food--they also have soy and rice cheeses on all
their pies so it's perfect for me! and the best part is that is TASTES
like pizza! Would love to spread the news about the place, a really
cool chick opened it up--a Cornell graduate who was lactose intolerent
and couldn't find any good pizza that had soy cheeses so she decided
to open one up herself! Check out're on 2nd
ave btween 73rd and 74th...has a really cool vibe as well--kind of
starbucks feel, nothing like a typical pizzeria! And I heard about
them through the New York Times--they've also been featured on the
food Network, ABC News, Zagat to name a few! I know all this because I
eat there litereally every day and the store owner (Miki) has become
my friend.

Anyway, would love to know what you think of the place! I think
they're the perfect candidate for your blog site restaurant section...


David Marc Fischer said...

I looked up the website of Slice and saw that it lists three types of crusts:

Honey Whole Wheat
Unbleached Herb
Spelt (Wheat Free) [sic]

So I'm afraid that I've already got a problem with the pizzeria, as spelt is actually a member of the wheat family and not allowable on a gluten-free diet.

The good news is that gluten-free pizza is available in NYC at many health food stores and at Risotteria, too. It is also available at two of the three GFRAP restaurants on Long Island.