Are McDonald’s French Fries Gluten-Free?

by Charlie

Are McDonald’s French fries gluten-free? According to information on McDonald’s website, its french fries are gluten-free. However, this may not be the case at your local outlet due to cross-contamination. Like any other restaurant, McDonald’s french fries are made by frying potatoes in non-hydrogenated vegetable oil. No ingredient involved in the cooking contains gluten. 

People with gluten-sensitivity, however, know how dangerous cross-contamination can be. Due to the McDonald’s kitchen set-up, the company cannot guarantee that its french fries (or any of its food) will not contain some gluten. While employees make sure not to use the same oil when frying different dishes, the same care may not be taken during storage and in other cooking areas.

Cross-contamination is a big deal because the only way to know for sure if it has happened is when you have an allergic reaction to the food.

If you’re looking for gluten-free french fries, you’re better-off avoiding Macdonald’s fries. Your local outlet could very well be gluten-free, but it’s probably not worth the price of finding out.

What items on McDonald’s Menu is Gluten-free?

As the world’s largest fast-food chain with more than 39,000 outlets, McDonald’s may sometimes be your closest option for food. As a gluten-sensitive person, can you order anything from Mcdonalds?

Despite all the risks around cross-contamination, some of Macdonald’s foods can be safely eaten by gluten-sensitive people.

Here’s a list of McDonald foods that do not contain gluten:

  • Lettuce-wrapped cheeseburger
  • Salads: Premium Bacon Ranch Salad, Caesar Salad without Chicken, premium Southwest Salad, Side Salad.
  • Newman’s Own Salad dressing: Creamy Caesar Dressing, Cobb Dressing, Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ranch Dressing.
  • Coffee: McCafe Coffee, Frappe Mocha, Frappé Caramel, Frappe Chocolate Chip
  • Smoothie: Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Mango Pineapple Smoothie
  • Sweet tea
  • Ice cream: Hot Fudge Sundae, Caramel Sundae, Vanilla McCafe Shake.
  • Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait (without granola)

Does McDonald’s have a Gluten-Free Menu?

One of Mcdonald’s many failings as a fast food chain is that it does not have a gluten-free menu. The lack of a menu means that gluten-sensitive people often have no idea whether what they are buying is harmful to them or not.

Asides from the regular menu, McDonalds does not provide any information required for decision-making to gluten-sensitive people. This is strange, seeing as almost 20 million Americans potentially live with some gluten sensitivity. 

It doesn’t also help that McDonalds’ employees are often unaware of the state of their food, especially as it relates to gluten. Many customers have reported being told to “go and look online” in response to questions about their gluten-free menu.

Improving its gluten-free offering is definitely something that McDonalds should work on to make life easier for a significant percentage of its customers.

What Fast Food and Fast Casual Restaurants Have a Gluten-Free Food Menu? 

Despite several campaigns against fast food as an unhealthy alternative, it is incredibly difficult to shake off. This is because fast food is cheap, convenient, and tastes good. As a gluten-sensitive person, your options with fast food chains are quite limited, but there’s often something on offer for you. 

You can find gluten-free food at most fast food chains. Many of these chains are beginning to make gluten-free options available to customers: Chick-Fila-A, Arby’s, Chipotle and Burger King. However, you may have to know the exact meal that is gluten-free, and that’s difficult for first-time buyers.

Chick-fil-A is one of the best places for people with gluten-sensitivity to eat. The fast-food chain offers a comprehensive gluten-free menu that can guide your decision-making when buying food. Its chicken nuggets and dipping sauces are gluten-free. Chick-fil-A sandwiches also come gluten-free without the bun. Some outlets even offer gluten-free buns made from millet, quinoa, and amaranth.

Arby’s also offers a comprehensive menu for gluten-free customers. As long as you avoid the bread, most other things on the menu are gluten-free. You should also take great care when buying fries. There’s a slight risk of cross-contamination from the oil used.

Chipotle says all its foods are gluten-free except for the sour flour tortilla. The company also keeps a list of allergen-free foods that customers can buy. 

In-N-Out Burger has a protein-style burger that is great for people with gluten-sensitivity. The chain places a premium on its allergen sensitivity and allows customers to activate an allergy button when placing an order. 

Burger King has a huge gluten-free menu; however, the menu is broken down by ingredients and not menu items. This means that prospective customers with gluten-sensitivity must know what ingredients are truly gluten-free.

As highlighted earlier, McDonalds doesn’t offer a gluten-free menu but has a couple of gluten-free offerings.

What Common Fast Food Items Contain Gluten?

When dealing with gluten-intolerance, knowledge is safety. Knowing what food items you can eat, as well as those that are taboo, can be the difference between a good afternoon with friends and a painful allergy episode.

While the list of food items containing gluten is inexhaustible, some are more common in fast food circles.

The following food items should be avoided by gluten-intolerant people at fast food outlets: wheat, barley, rye, malt, triticale, wheat starch, and brewer’s yeast. You should also try to avoid foods that require frying.

Fried foods at fast food restaurants may be gluten-free but are at risk of cross-contamination due to the same oil being used for frying both gluten-free and gluten-containing products.

Final Thoughts

Managing gluten intolerance can be tasking, given that you cannot make the same choices as other people. Here are a few parting thoughts that you should take away: 

  • McDonald fries are gluten-free, according to their website, but they have a high risk of cross-contamination. Avoid them if you’re sensitive to gluten.
  • There are gluten-free foods you can eat at McDonalds like smoothies, coffees, salads, etc.
  • McDonalds does not have a gluten-free menu. You have to know the foods that do not contain gluten.
  • Most fast food chains sell gluten-free food; however, the level of importance placed on it differs.
  • The most common gluten-containing food items in fast food chains are barley, wheat, rye, malt, beaver’s yeast, and triticale.

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