Friday, August 15, 2014

Smashburger now offers Udi's Gluten Free Buns!

A friend of mine told me that Smashburger now was offering Udi’s Gluten Free hamburger buns in their stores- so immediately I was excited.  Then I thought back to when Five Guys first opened, and didn’t realize about cross-contamination (and how I had to email their regional manager and request gloves to be changed, etc, and NOW they are FABULOUS with preparing food with as little cross-contamination as possible!)- so I emailed Smashburger to find out how well-prepared they were to handle the new GF buns.

I emailed Smashburger in June to 1-thank them for offering Udi’s Gluten Free buns- and to find out if there were steps in place to limit the cross-contamination with gluten-containing buns in their stores (ie- do employees handling GF buns change gloves?, are the buns toasted- if so, where and how?, and on their website's Allergen Listing it says that burger meat can come in contact with gluten containing ingredients- and wanted to know how- and what is cooked on their grill in the certain areas.  As for their French fries I wanted to know if they are made in a dedicated fryer? 
Smashburger Reply:“Thank you for contacting Smashburger. While we offer gluten free options, our restaurants use shared equipment and surfaces in the kitchen and cross contact with gluten containing foods may occur. Our restaurants do not operate in a 100% gluten free environment when preparing gluten free menu items. Typically we have one fryer dedicated to fries and sweet potato fries. Both the regular fries and the sweet potato fries are gluten free as prepared. Things do occasionally happen at the restaurant, so please check with the manager at the time of ordering to ensure a dedicated fryer is being used.”

I viewed this as the standard “we are not a dedicated gluten free facility” and for me , I’m OK with that- I take steps to try to limit the cross-contamination as much as possible- speaking to a manager, letting them know I have an “allergy” to gluten, asking them to change gloves, etc- it’s as much as we can do anytime eating out is a risk- and I realize that.  I wrote them back and said that I realized that it is not a 100% gluten free environment, but wanted to know if staff members were trained on how to limit cross contamination with a gluten-free diner upon request.

Smashburger’s Reply:“Our staff is trained on our allergen guidelines and how to minimize cross contact. Please speak with a manager on your next visit to ensure they understand your concerns. As for the buns, they are toasted on a shared toaster that is not gluten free. You may ask that the bun not be toasted or that they toast it on the grill rather than the toaster in order to minimize contact with gluten containing items.”

OK- so this last part got me freaked out.  The GLUTEN FREE BUNS ARE TOASTED ON THE SAME TOASTER AS REGULAR BUNS!!!  What sense does that make?  Do they realize that this in fact makes the buns NOT gluten free!!!  I figured I would go to the store to speak with someone regarding the one in my area (Wantagh) and to see how it is actually being handled.
Whenever I go to a place for the first time, rather than marching right up and speaking with a manager (whom I would *hope* know about gluten free)- I speak with the person I would get “regularly” and ask them all my questions.  This is usually my gauge on how well the staff is trained.  If the person taking the order is knowledgeable about GF and which of their products are safe, and how they’re prepared, then I feel that the entire staff was trained on it.

Upon speaking to the person taking the order, she knew how to prepare my GF bun (FYI, Wantagh does NOT toast the GF buns!  As per the kitchen- they just “open the package and place the burger in it”), she knew that both the regular fries and the sweet potato fries were in fact gluten free there- they have a separate fryer for the breaded items “because if they were cooked in the same fryer then the fries wouldn’t be gluten free” (good answer!) and they place an “allergy alert” in the computer when ordering and she leaned back into the kitchen to alert them.  After asking all my questions I found out that she was the “shift lead” and was happy that she knew about safe GF preparation.

I’m hoping that the other Smashburgers out there are NOT toasting their buns in the same toaster- so please if you visit a Smashburger, alert them to your “allergy” and request a non-toasted bun and ask them all the “questions” prior to ordering.  It’s always a good idea to also speak with a manager when eating out to alert them to our dietary needs to play it safe.

It was a REALLY GOOD BURGER, and sweet potato and shoestring fries (although the shoestring fries were really more like “dental floss” fries- super tiny- but hey, they’re GF fries so I’m not complaining!) were really good!

Smashburger has 4 current locations in Nassau County:  Wantagh, Port Washington, New Hyde Park, Hicksville,

I’m happy I can finally have a “fast food” burger on a bun!  Now if we can only get Five Guys to jump on the GF bandwagon I can kiss my lettuce wrap burgers goodbye! J


1 comment:

Monica said...

Thank you so much for doing this investigation! I have eaten at the Wantagh location a few times and I never even thought about it.Those corporate canned responses don't inspire much confidence - thank goodness the Wantagh staff know what they are doing! Those sweet potato fries are amazing.