The Best 6 Fast-Food Restaurants For Coeliacs

Gluten-free meals have become more accessible with more offerings. But for coeliac's, navigating fast-food restaurants can be a nightmare due to the potential of gluten cross-contamination. I share my top fast-food restaurants for coeliacs and tips when eating out.
Posted on Nov 04, 2021 By Sarah Appleford Sarah Appleford

Eating out for someone living with coeliac disease can be challenging. When gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, is consumed it damages the lining of the small intestines. This leads to abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and nutrient deficiencies.

Even consuming the slightest amount of gluten can cause unpleasant acute symptoms for a coeliac. And while gluten-free meals have become more available, cross-contamination is a serious issue. Fast-food restaurants don’t have the greatest reputation for quality, healthy food. This coupled with young staff, high turnover and changing menus can be highly problematic for coeliac sufferers.

To help navigate the take-away environment, I share some tips for when eating out and top fast-food restaurants for coeliacs. Even as a nutritionist, I believe we all should enjoy a treat every now and then!

The best 6 Fast-food Restaurants for Coeliacs

NameStore locationsFood type
Betty’s Burgers 36 🍔 Burgers
Zambrero 190+ 🌯 Mexican
Grill'd Burgers 130+ 🍔 Burgers
Nando's 180+ 🍗 Grilled Chicken
OMG! Decadent Donuts 40+ 🍩 Donuts
Your local fish & chip shop 2,800+ 🐟🍟 Seafood

Coeliac Australia has developed a standard that restaurants, cafes and take-away businesses can follow to create dishes that are safe for coeliacs. These include “sourcing, segregation and service” guidelines. Prepping food in a designated area, using separate oil for frying and covering equipment such as grills are just some of the recommendations to help avoid cross-contamination that can make coeliacs sufferers seriously ill.

While this is a great step for those living with coeliac disease, it doesn’t mean all take-away providers are able to meet these guidelines. So here are 6 restaurants coeliac sufferers can eat out to get their takeaway fix.

Betty’s Burgers

Store locations

36

Food type

🍔 Burgers

Betty’s Burgers offer a selection of burgers, salads, icecreams and thick shakes that are free of gluten. They also cater for coeliacs ensuring they use clean utensils and segregated packaging to avoid contamination.

You’ll find an extensive allergens list on Betty’s Burgers website, however, they do recommend you speak with the staff to ensure they are fully aware of your dietary requirements.

Zambrero

Store locations

190+

Food type

🌯 Mexican

Head to Zambrero for a gluten-free Mexican feast. Their taco shells, black rice tortillas and corn chips are listed as coeliac friendly, and you’ll find most of their toppings are gluten-free.

Another bonus – you’ll find a Zambrero’s Australia-wide.

Grill'd Burgers

Store locations

130+

Food type

🍔 Burgers

Coeliacs rave about Grill’d and their meal options. Some even cite their local Grill’d shout “coeliac meal” so all their well-trained team is on alert.

One tip is to ask for your bun to be done on the grill, not the toaster and to avoid the vegan patties which may contain gluten. Word on the street is their gluten-free nuggets are delicious!

Nando's

Store locations

180+

Food type

🍗 Grilled Chicken

PERi PERi Tenders anyone? You can find chicken, ribs and many sides available at Nandos that are gluten-free. Be careful, several items may contain traces of gluten, so for coeliacs, this could be problematic.

You’ll find an extensive list of allergen information on their website but as always, it’s good to inform the staff before ordering. Nandos states their chips are gluten-free, but it’s always worth checking they’re not fried in contaminated oil.

OMG! Decadent Donuts

Store locations

40+

Food type

🍩 Donuts

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, OMG! Decadent Donuts create moorish delights that are vegan-friendly, and gluten, dairy, egg and nut-free.

Just to be sure, they get the tick of approval from Coeliac Australia! This means you can enjoy going out for a dessert without the fear of repercussions.

Your local fish & chip shop

Store locations

2,800+

Food type

🐟🍟 Seafood

If takeaway is a regular part of your lifestyle, connecting with your local fish and chip shop may be a good option for you. You can always order a grilled piece of fish and a salad.

For those who can’t do fish without the chips, you can check if there is a fryer that hasn’t been used for frying gluten-containing foods. As demand grows, more local takeaway establishments are changing how they operate to accommodate these requirements. So, it pays to ask!

Top cross-contamination offenders at take-away shops

You’ll see from this list just how easy it is for a fun night out enjoying takeaway to be a disaster for someone living with coeliac disease.

  1. Food prepared on the same surfaces as non-gluten-free food.
  2. Gloves are not being changed when preparing gluten-free food.
  3. Gluten-free fried in shared oil (such a big one in the fast-food industry!)
  4. Food cooked in the same pan or boiling water used for gluten-containing ingredients.
  5. Gluten-free dough made in the same space as your standard bases or pizza cooked on the same stone.

Fast-food eating tips for coeliacs

Here are my top tips for eating out if you’re a coeliac sufferer:

  1. Be sure to check the menu and preparation methods with the fast-food establishment before you order. Items and ingredients change regularly and there can sometimes be a high turnover of young employees.
  2. Look for the tick of approval from Coeliac Australia! There is a list of accredited businesses on their website.
  3. If in doubt, call your local takeaway places before you venture out.
  4. When ordering, tell the staff you have coeliac disease and explain succinctly what this means for your dietary requirements. When collecting your order, question that the food has met your requirements.
  5. Remember cross-contamination! If you’re a newly diagnosed coeliac or a friend of, cross-contamination is a big issue in takeaway places. Even flour dust from making pizza dough can be disastrous.
  6. Try convenient meal providers to get your takeaway fix! A delivery of convenient meals to your doorstep that you know are safe to consume can be just as much as a treat as ordering at your local takeaway shop. You can find a list of coeliac-friendly meal providers here.
  7. Avoid fried foods if you can as most businesses tend to use shared oil even when cooking gluten-free products. Small takeaway shops often don’t have the capacity for a dedicated gluten-free fryer.
  8. Make sure you look out for hidden sources of gluten in products such as sauces, dressings, gravies, spices and even drinks.
  9. Remember, if in doubt, go without! Your body will thank you for it!
Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford is a registered clinical nutritionist who believes achieving optimal health and wellbeing relies on living with intention.
SEE PROFILE

Comment

All comments are held for moderation.

Latest Posts