Meals can’t be guaranteed gluten free if they are prepared in a kitchen that also prepares gluten-containing food. That’s true, but it is also a cop-out: thousands of gluten free meals are prepared in kitchens that serve everyone. It takes knowledge, careful and competent planning, and a well-trained staff. Menus that include this disclaimer are simply making excuses that people-who-live-gluten free will accept. The simple truth is that no restaurant can promise that its food is totally gluten free any more than that it can guarantee that salmonella is not present. Mistakes happen! The goal is to improve our chances.
I feel positive when I learn that a restaurant uses “dedicated fryers” (meaning that at least one fryer is reserved for gluten free food and used for nothing else.) I’m encouraged when I see that the restaurant is aware of one of the basic rules for avoiding cross contamination: the same cooking oil must not be used with both gluten free and gluten toxic items. Unfortunately, there is no way to observe the difference between “safe” and “dirty” cooking, so many meals are made gluten-toxic if one employee misuses the dedicated gluten free flyer. My strategy here is simply to avoid deep-fried restaurant food. It isn’t worth the risk as far as I am concerned.
I ignore most menu items where I must make substitutions to make my meals gluten free. Do I really want to order a salad without dressing or a burger without a bun? Every substitution is an opportunity for error.
Reading a gluten free menu is both an art and a science. I’ll publish nore information soon and link you to it.