Skip to comments.McDonald's Faces Suit After Girl Becomes Ill
Posted on 02/19/2006 3:39:08 AM PST by ShadowDancer
click here to read article
It's not unusual at all that she asked. You just don't have the perspective of a celiac.
Meaning, what? That the gluten will transfer from the breaded food to the oil and then transfer to the fries? And you know that how?
Hmmmm. Not even McDonald's knows that. According to the article, they're now conducting research. You can save them lots of money by telling them what you know to be a fact.
Well I happen to be a clinical chemist, but beyond that, anyone with celiac disease can tell you this from personal experience.
I once carefully picked a piece of cheese from a sandwich that had been made an hour or so earlier. I spent the night in an emergency room on an IV.
I realize you don't know much about this disease. Celiacs are told to use only certain toothpastes because many of them contain gluten. We are asked to have our own pots and pans and to avoid teflon which has had gluten on it in the past. I have my own toaster because crumbs from the one my family uses can make me sick. We have to pick and choose our spices as well.
The average gluten-containing diet contains roughly 10-40 grams of gluten per day. This figure is based on the amounts of gluten in your average slice of whole wheat bread, which contains around 4.8 grams of gluten (10% gluten by weight), and the amount of gluten in a serving of pasta, which is roughly 6.4 grams of gluten (11% gluten by weight). The smallest amount of gluten which has been shown by a biopsy to cause damage to a celiac is 0.1 gram per day (Catassi et al.). This is approximately the amount of gluten contained in 1/48th of a slice of bread! The biopsies in this study showed an increase in intraepithelial lymphocyte count, one of the earliest signs of damage. The challenge was on 10 patients (children) for 28 days each. Four of the patients showed an increase in IgA antigliadin antibodies. The intestinal permeability test remained normal.
Someone should also have warned you that we celiacs are descended from hunter gatherers. We tend to shoot tasty looking things while hiding in the trees and asking questions later. :>)
"Confirm with your wait staff the exact ingredients of a menu item every time you order. There is often a surprise as to the ingredients not listed, or that they have changed."
"Discuss cross-contamination issues with the wait staff and/or chef to make sure they understand the fact that just a tiny amount of gluten can make a difference"
"Is the fryer used dedicated for non-gluten items, or are breaded items cooked in the same fryer? Is the oil shared between non-gluten fryers and other fryers? Are breaded and non-breaded items cooked on the same part of the grill? Are cutting utensils and boards used for gluten and non-gluten containing items? Is the preparation area kept clean so crumbs from gluten containing items do not find their way into the gluten-free foods?"
This is just routine stuff for us.
Here is a sample website as well.
gluten free restaurant foods
So, everyone but McDonald's knows this to be a fact. And if their research shows that the gluten in the cooking oil does not transfer to the fries, then they're lying. Correct?
Scroll down to the third choice which is McDonalds USA...
Click on the menu and see the choices for celiacs, which does not include french fries. Then click on the cached version and you will see, clearly, that it used to be a choice the company listed for those with celiac disease.
You're beating a dead horse. Gluten does hang around in the oil. Everyone knows this. It's just common sense.
More correct to say that people with the disease die. From your link:
"On November 16, 2000, Joe C died at the age of 26 in his hometown of Taylor, Michigan. He died in his sleep reportedly from natural causes."
Not my question. I'm not asking if the gluten in the McDonald's oil is hanging around. I'm asking if the gluten in the McDonald's oil is transferring to the fries? You're the clinical chemist. Just state for the record that it is ... if it is.
Or, if you don't know, then state that you don't know.
Some facts, including tidbits about frying oils:
February 16, 2006
STATEMENT ON MCDONALDS FOR GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) BRANCH LEADERS
McDonald's and the Celiac Community
The Gluten Intolerance Group of NA, members of the American Celiac
Disease Alliance, and others have worked at length with McDonald's,
the FDA, research and industry leaders to help provide an answer to
the outcry by the celiac and allergy communities to McDonald's
recent announcement of wheat and dairy being in the fries.
A position statement from GIG, CDF and others in the ACDA:
The science and processing of refined oils does not allow residual
proteins to be left in the oils at any level significant to be
detected or cause an allergic reaction. The favoring agent added to
the oil during par-frying is possibly suspect, however until
information is provided on testing of the flavoring agent we cannot
say if it is a problem or not. The flavoring company has stated to
McDonald's that the flavoring has no allergenic proteins and since
McDonald's policy is that the fryers used fry the French fries are
dedicated and only used for potatoes, this would mean the fries are
gluten-free. McDonald's is expected to make an updated statement
about this situation in the very near future. We anticipate that it
may include information about recent testing.
Choosing to eat any food is always the individual consumer's choice.
If you feel uncomfortable with this information, it is ultimately
your choice to eat the fries or not.
GIG and other leaders in the celiac community have taken a proactive
position on advocating for safe food for persons with celiac disease
and appropriate labeling. At the same time, it is important to
recognize the need for education about how the law may initially
cause confusion about ingredients that are truly safe and should not
be required to be labeled, according to this law.
As we try to educate consumers, it is important that the community
approach their questions and concerns in a calm, logical manner.
This is not always easy to do when the health of a child or yourself
is at potential risk. Ultimately, it will have positive impact on
the food industry and their desire to work with us for our benefit.
The FALCPA law does not apply to McDonald's or other restaurants. It
applies to packaged foods. The allergen information will appear on
the packaging of foods purchased by consumers and those purchased by
food businesses, such as restaurants, hospitals and schools.
However, the law does not require such businesses to post this
McDonald's is a company that wants to be transparent and supportive
of health initiatives within the fast food industry and the allergic
community. In wanting to be transparent, they chose to disclose
information about their fries, based on the package labeling
information on the foods they purchase.
FALCPA is an excellent law, and will resolve the majority of
labeling issues for persons with celiac disease, gluten intolerances
and allergies. It requires that plain language be used on packaging
to identify the top 8 allergens wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, fish,
shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts.
The law exempts from labeling these allergens in the event that the
allergens are removed and the allergenic protein does not exist in
the ingredient. An example of such an exemption is refined oil. The
law allows companies to file exemptions for ingredients, if they can
prove no allergen exists in the ingredient.
At this time, the FDA has not filed formal rulings on the exemptions
The issue at hand:
McDonald's, wanting to be transparent and community-minded,
disclosed the information on packaging of their fries, indicating
that the FLAVORING Agent added to the par-fry oil included a wheat
and dairy source, which the par-fry company states does not contain
proteins (therefore cannot be allergenic).
People in the allergy and celiac communities feel betrayed and
outraged with McDonald's for being untruthful in the past. They are
angry and afraid.
Refined oils are processed by cold, or heat and pressure extraction.
Cold extraction oils, such as olive and peanut oils, are generally
more expensive and less shelf-stable. They also retain their natural
flavors, aroma, and nutritional values. Heat and pressure
extraction allow oils to be more stable. Heat extraction includes
oils that are extracted from the fruits and seeds under high
pressure (up to 15 tons), known as expeller processing or a solvent
extraction process. Solvents are used to extract the oils from the
seeds and then it is boiled to remove the solvents. These oils are
often further refined using bleaching, deodorizing and high
temperatures. Oils highly refined in this manner have very little of
the original flavor, aroma, and nutrients of the original seeds or
fruit. These oils have high smoke points and long shelf lives,
making them ideal for frying. Scientists have stated that the
bleaching process or high atmospheric pressure is enough to destroy
Any flavorings are added after the deodorizing process to highly
refined oils, otherwise the process would render the flavoring
We do not know a lot about the flavoring used at this time, except
what was reported in the press and by McDonald's.
Word reached Canada about the McDonald's information. Health Canada
is launched even stricter regulations than they currently have in
place for allergens. Health Canada is like the FDA in the US. This
representative felt that even with their strict regulations, that
these ingredients would be excluded from having to be declared on
labels based on their lack of protein content. It is important to
note that McDonald's products may be formulated differently in other
countries; however, as the celiac community often looks to Canada
for its strict gluten regulations, it is helpful to know how one
person in Health Canada views this situation.
We are trying to encourage that an exemption be filed with the FDA
by the oil and/or flavoring company.
Why the Confusion:
The confusion comes in that very few ingredients, that do not have
allergic proteins in them have not filed for or been approved by the
FDA as exempt from the law. Until they are exempt, the law requires
that the label bear the starting ingredients if they are a top 8
allergen. This confuses and frightens consumers, who are depending
on this law to provide a measure of assurance to safety. We knew
this would happen in the beginning and hope that the reaction of
consumers to the McDonald's incident will cause the FDA to fast-pace
the exemption process and stop the confusion. Remember that proteins
cause allergic reactions. Companies must show no allergenic proteins
are in the ingredient to be exempt from the law.
What Can We Do
First, do not panic. It is important we approach any labeling issues
with a sense of fully understanding the process and issue. If the
celiac community chooses react and lash out at companies, without
having all the facts and full understanding, they risk isolation of
those companies and others. The food industry is on the same
learning curve about the law as consumers. They are watching how
consumers react to labeling changes. History shows us that when we
are supportive of the companies in the changes they make, they
support us. When we attack, they and others will choose not to
support the consumer community. Do we want companies to purposefully
add wheat to their products so they do not have to deal with us?
That is already happening. Wouldn't you rather pat them on the back
and watch them do more to support our needs? That has happened, but
could very quickly stop.
We ask that as leaders in the celiac community, that you help us to
support the community needs by providing sound information and a
calming effect. Help us to help consumers understand and act in a
productive rather than destructive manner towards the changes. Help
us to educate others about food processing and the allergen labeling
For more information about this information contact: Cynthia Kupper,
RD, Executive Director, GIG 206-246-6652
Cynthia Kupper, RD, CD
What have we got? One case. Which is shaping up to be fraud.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
I'm wondering if anyone has had a chance to dig up the complaint on this case, I think it would focus the discussion and make comments more relevant. I wonder if it is available online?