Does gluten-ous oil make you ill?

Sarcastic Captain Obvious

Sarcastic Captain Obvious

Does eating gluten-free food that’s been deep fried in the same oil that gluten-i-fied food has been fried in make you ill?

I am asking because my previous post about The Soho Hotel’s Refuel restaurant has shocked me somewhat.  Apparently they pride themselves on gluten- and dairy-free because their Director has these very same needs.

Initially they said they definitely hadn’t used gluten or cow’s milk in my food so they couldn’t take any responsibility for my reaction.  When my other half asked “What about the frying oil?” the tumbleweed rolled and clanger of realisation dropped.  Obviously the Soho lady had to ‘go and check’, which took a whole day of trying to think up a clever riposte.

As predicted, despite me asking the waiter to check if the oil was ok before I ordered, the oil was in fact used for all types of food. They said they had never even considered this could be a problem.  My partner called it a “wheat marinade”.  Mmmm, yum, just what my stomach needed.

This has made me feel like I’m going a bit mad – surely it’s logical that my food would be contaminated?  Any comments or advice would be very gratefully received.

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3 responses to “Does gluten-ous oil make you ill?

  1. I can empathize with you although our son didn’t ingest any gluten…. thank goodness.

    Our experience was a birthday luncheon at a top end restaurant. We had chosen the venue because of their “comprehensive” gluten free menu and had targeted a few menu items our son would be able to eat. We told them on booking and then when we were seated. This was one of our first ‘eating out’ experiences and my husband and I were going to guide our son to see that with a bit of planning before hand, you can eat out and be gluten free safe.

    My son chose his menu items and as the waiter was taking the order sprinted back to the kitchen to return to say “how sensitive are you to gluten because these two menu items are cooked in the same oil as gluten food”. A dark cloud descended as my son withdraw into his “I don’t want a fuss made over this”. As we were one week away from his second endoscopy he settled on a gltuen free small portion entree, hardly sufficient for a hungry teenager. The same goes for a fish and chips franchise here, offering gluten free friendly fish and chips… unfortunately cooked in glutenised oil.

    And so we get extremely frustrated by fads and trends where people opt to be gluten free because it is trendy or healthy and so the lines become blurred about “gluten free” because for those people, gluten free chips cooked in glutenised oil is okay. The same goes for the gluten free bread at an artisan bakery. We put in a special order only to be handed sliced gluten free bread, which of course had gone through a glutinised slicer.

    We also get extremely frustrated by the “and how sensitive are you?” question. Our son’s Geography teacher wasn’t concerned about our son’s dietary requirements before a 3 day field trip…. the kids look after themselves for dinner, we drop them off at McDonald’s and KFC. You can only imagine our response to which he queried our son’s sensitivity and thought we were exaggerating when we told him 2 gluten cracker biscuits = 2 hours of vomiting and diarrhea.

    Coeliac disease is what it is … a lifelong completely gluten free diet. You can’t cheat, you can’t opt to say that you are only a little sensitive and you can’t necessarily always see the damage being done.

    I am not sure how to educate restaurants and cafes, there is always going to be concerns whenever you eat out. The hospitality industry here has such a high turnover of staff so you can’t guarantee that this week you will get a gluten free meal because last month you did. You start to become feel like a gluten free Nazi when eating out. We try now to do the interrogation before actually going out as this means our son doesn’t get angry with a fuss being made. Unfortunately this does not allow for spontaneity when eating out.

    Coeliac disease is a tough gig and each bad experience makes you wiser for the next time. I do hope you haven’t had any more bad experiences.

    Joanne

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    • Hi Joanne,

      Apologies for only just replying, your comment is brilliant and so helpful. I’m sorry your son has to worry about these things so much, largely, as you said, because of a lack of education about gluten and cross-contamination in restaurants. I am still baffled that people don’t think of the cooking oil: I told my story to a friend who chooses to be gluten-free (she has been for a couple of years now) and she was genuinely shocked and said she hadn’t even considered it.
      Also, my favourite burger restaurant (Honest Burgers in London) does the best chips, all in a gf fryer, until one week where they had deep-fried camembert on their menu. I was so disappointed. Then I was angry as the waiter said: “You should be fine, it’s a tiny amount of gluten and it will only affect the most sensitive of people”. This was the line they were going with! I felt like shouting “A LITTLE BIT IS STILL A BIT WHICH IS A LOT TO ANYONE WHO CAN’T EAT GLUTEN”. But I held back, said that gluten is still gluten and miserably had salad on the side. Eurgh.
      I really feel for you and your son. Every time I go out I pre-plan where we will eat and it can take away so much of the enjoyment. There’s no way I’m giving up my meals out and I hope your son builds his confidence and is able to enjoy positive experiences in the future.
      Thanks so much for your reply 🙂
      Emma x

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      • Just need to keep on learning from our mistakes and trust no-one until you have interrogated them.
        Yes,’a little bit won’t hurt’ highlights how much the general public don’t know.
        Love your blog, keep at it.
        Joanne

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