Bojangles fries are not guaranteed to be gluten-free. While the fries themselves do not contain gluten, they are fried in shared fryers that also fry breaded menu items that contain gluten. This means there is a risk of gluten cross-contact for customers sensitive to gluten. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should exercise caution when ordering fries from Bojangles.
Exploring Bojangles’ Position on Gluten
Bojangles does not make any gluten-free claims about their fries. On their website, under their allergen information, they state: “Bojangles’ cannot guarantee that any product is free from allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, and peanuts).”
This covers the presence of wheat, which contains the gluten protein. Bojangles takes care in preparing their food, but the potential for cross-contact is there given they use shared fryers.
Bojangles warns that their breaded chicken and biscuits contain wheat. They recommend those with wheat allergies or celiac disease avoid these menu items. However, they provide no special guidance regarding their fries.
Some consumers have reported contacting Bojangles directly and being told their fries are not gluten-free. Employees have cited the use of shared fryers as the reason.
So in summary, Bojangles does not claim their fries are gluten-free or guarantee against gluten contamination. Their allergen information and employee guidance indicate there is definitely risk of gluten exposure from ordering fries.
Are Bojangles Fries Made with Gluten?
The ingredients used in Bojangles fries do not inherently contain gluten.
According to the Bojangles website, their fries contain:
– Vegetable oil (canola, soybean, hydrogenated soybean, and/or cottonseed)
Potatoes are a naturally gluten-free food. The various vegetable oils used are also free of gluten.
Dextrose is a glucose sugar derived from corn. Corn is gluten-free, so dextrose does not contain gluten.
So based solely on ingredients, Bojangles fries look like they should be gluten-free. But because of how they are prepared, gluten contamination is likely.
Risk of Cross-Contact from Frying
Even though Bojangles fries don’t contain gluten ingredients, they still pose a risk for people with celiac disease due to cross-contact.
This cross-contact happens in the fryers. Bojangles uses shared fryers to prepare multiple menu items. This means they fry their breaded chicken and biscuits in the same oil as their french fries.
Breading by nature contains gluten. Bojangles uses flour in their chicken breading, which introduces gluten to the fryers. Their biscuits also contain wheat flour.
When gluten-containing items like breaded chicken or biscuits are fried, some small bits or particles can come off and get into the frying oil. Later frying of fries in this same oil leads to gluten cross-contact.
Some tiny amount of gluten gets transferred from the oil onto the surface of the fries. While not enough to affect most people, those highly sensitive could react.
Using dedicated fryers for fries would prevent this, but Bojangles locations do not use dedicated fryers. All menu items get fried together.
This is why Bojangles cannot claim their fries are gluten-free or guarantee against gluten exposure. The cross-contact risk is too high from their shared fryers.
How Much Gluten Could Get On the Fries?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much gluten could be transferred to Bojangles fries through oil cross-contact. There are some estimates based on testing:
– 5-15 ppm: Most estimates say 5-15 parts per million (ppm) of gluten could get on fries through fryer cross-contact. This seems to be the range found through gluten testing of fries from various restaurants.
– 20 ppm: The FDA allows foods labeled “gluten-free” to contain up to 20 ppm of gluten. This gives a threshold for people with celiac. However, some extremely sensitive individuals may react to amounts lower than this.
Based on these benchmarks, Bojangles fries likely contain trace amounts on par with typical gluten cross-contact from fried foods. The precise amount could vary batch to batch. Procedures to filter oil or boil-out breading remnants could reduce the degree of exposure.
For most people with celiac, trace gluten at 5-15 ppm would be tolerable. But there are documented cases of reactions to gluten below 20 ppm. Thus Bojangles fries cannot be considered truly “gluten-free” for all.
What About Other Menu Items?
While the focus has been on fries, it’s important to understand other Bojangles menu items when assessing gluten safety:
– Boneless chicken – breaded and fried, contains gluten
– Chicken supremes – breaded and fried, contains gluten
– Biscuits – contain wheat flour, not gluten-free
– Mashed potatoes and gravy – could contain wheat flour as thickener
– Macaroni and cheese – contains wheat flour in cheese sauce
– Pintos, rice and chicken – flour in chicken breading
– Cajun paws – breaded and fried chicken, contains gluten
Essentially all Bojangles fried chicken, biscuits, and chicken-based dishes contain gluten from the breading or sauces. Burgers would be a gluten-free choice, as they are grilled without breading. Salads could also be safe if gluten-containing croutons are left off.
So those with celiac have minimal gluten-free choices at Bojangles. Fries may be lowest risk, but still with potential for gluten cross-contact.
Should You Eat Bojangles Fries with Celiac Disease?
People with celiac disease need to avoid all exposure to gluten. This means Bojangles fries would be risky due to potential cross-contact:
– Even tiny amounts of gluten can damage intestines and cause symptoms in those with celiac.
– It only takes ingesting traces of gluten occasionally to do damage over time.
– Some celiacs react strongly even to gluten traces under 20 ppm.
– There are no procedures at Bojangles restaurants to prevent cross-contact from fryers.
– Bojangles does not guarantee their fries are gluten-free or safe for celiacs.
Based on this, the best practice for celiacs is to avoid Bojangles fries entirely. The level of cross-contamination is uncertain, and some are highly sensitive. It is not worth the risk.
Those with celiac disease would be better off choosing dedicated gluten-free restaurants that use separate fryers when eating out. Homemade fries also let you control the whole gluten-free preparation.
Precautions for Gluten Sensitivity
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten better than those with celiac:
– Their symptoms may be triggered only by higher gluten intake compared to celiac disease.
– Intestinal damage is not a factor for those without celiac.
– Some with gluten sensitivity can eat fries from shared fryers without issue.
– Those very sensitive could still react to traces – so caution is needed.
– 20 ppm or less gluten per serving may be tolerated, but this varies individually.
In this case, it might be acceptable for those with gluten sensitivity to occasionally eat small portions of Bojangles fries and monitor symptoms. But it would be safest to avoid them or stick to dedicated gluten-free restaurants.
Steps to Minimize Risk
For those who still wish to eat Bojangles fries despite the risks, some tips to reduce gluten exposure:
– Request fries from a fresh batch. This avoids fryer contamination that builds up over a day.
– Avoid visiting Bojangles restaurants during busy times when more breaded items get fried.
– Order a small fries instead of a large. Less surface area means less chance of gluten sticking.
– Use dipping sauces sparingly or avoid. Sauces may contain undisclosed wheat thickeners.
– Wash hands immediately before and after eating fries to prevent spreading gluten.
– Monitor symptoms closely for next 48 hours to identify any reaction.
Again, those with celiac disease are better off not eating Bojangles fries at all given the uncertainties. But these steps could help reduce risk for those who still choose to.
Gluten-Free and Celiac-Friendly Restaurant Options
Rather than take risks with potential gluten cross-contact at Bojangles, those with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity have some safer options:
Dedicated Gluten-Free Chains
Some restaurant chains are dedicated to gluten-free cooking and avoid all cross-contact:
– Flower Child – health-focused bowls and plates, with gluten-free menu
– BurgerFi – burgers and fries in separate fryer
– Chipotle – tacos and burritos with gluten-free options
– Blaze Pizza – build your own gluten-free pizzas
These make it easy to order 100% gluten-free meals.
Steakhouses and High-End Chains
Upscale steak restaurants often have strong gluten-free practices:
– Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse – gluten-free menu, Fryers separate
– Ruth’s Chris Steak House – gluten-free preparations
– Capital Grille – separate fryers and precautions for celiac
– McCormick & Schmick’s – dedicated gluten-free menu
The higher quality standards at these restaurants lend well to gluten safety.
Certain ethnic restaurant types offer more naturally gluten-free dishes:
– Thai – try curry dishes over rice, avoid noodles
– Vietnamese – get pho with rice noodles or salad rolls in rice paper
– Korean – bibimbap bowl over rice with meats and veggies
– Japanese – sushi and sashimi, ramen with no noodles
– Mexican – fajitas, carnitas and rice/beans, corn tortillas
Sticking to simpler dishes reduces risk ofhidden gluten in sauces.
Call Ahead to Verify
With any restaurant, it’s smart for celiacs to call ahead to ask about preparation. Reputable places will be transparent about how they handle gluten-free orders. This provides peace of mind.
Following a gluten-free diet poses unique challenges when dining out. But being diligent to choose certified gluten-free restaurants helps ensure the safety of those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Avoiding the uncertainty of cross-contamination is critical to health.
In summary, Bojangles fries likely contain trace amounts of gluten due to cross-contact from the shared fryers used in their restaurants. The amount could vary day-to-day but is estimated at 5-15 ppm based on similar restaurants.
While these trace amounts may be low enough for some with gluten sensitivity, it is too high of a risk for most people with celiac disease. Those with celiac are advised to avoid Bojangles fries, as even small exposures over time can trigger symptoms and intestinal damage.
Ultimately, there are safer gluten-free options for eating out. Dedicated gluten-free chains, higher-end steakhouses, and certain ethnic cuisines offer meals prepared without cross-contact. Calling restaurants ahead also helps identify the safest choices.
By understanding the gluten risks of menu items like fries from chains like Bojangles, celiacs and people with gluten sensitivity can make informed decisions to protect their health when dining out. Caution is advised at restaurants using shared fryers, as “gluten-free” cannot be guaranteed.