I’ve been asked why I don’t go to Chipotle and why it’s not listed on the site. The answer can be taken straight from their website:

However, you should know that it’s possible our corn may have a small amount of gluten from potentially co-mingling with gluten-containing grains in the field.

If you are highly sensitive and would like us to change our gloves, we would be happy to do that at your request. Additionally, because our folks work with wheat tortillas all day long, there may be the possibility of cross-contact in our restaurants. We encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices.

Gluten Free is more that just what you deliberately put into a dish.  It is about careful management of your kitchen and supply chain to avoid cross-contamination.  Simply changing gloves prior to preparing the item is not enough.

  • Do your suppliers make claims about their products?  Do they secure their stores and processes from cross-contamination?
  • Where are the ingredients stored?  Are they open and exposed to the flour that is floating around from the other ingredients?
  •  When the employees reach in to grab ingredients to make something for a non-sensitive person do they change their gloves first?  If not, they will contaminate the store.  Better yet, have a separate sealed store that is only accessed for sensitive or allergic customers.
  • How clean are the work surfaces and utensils?  Are they using a separate and dedicated space and tools for their special preparation?
  • Are all of your employees — from the maitre d’s to the preparers to the servers– trained in the issues?  How cautious are the servers about carrying the food such that something doesn’t spill over to another dish?  Are you managers supervising and reminding the staff about procedures?

Without proper procedures to secure the purity of their stock and work environment, I’m afraid that I cannot risk dinning there.

But even with all of this in mind, I do actually commend Chipotle for being upfront about the cross-contamination issue.  I wish more restaurants were honest about their procedures.