Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gluten Free at Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain is the last place I would look for gluten free food, but according to their website they do have some gluten free items. The items which are listed as gluten free on their website are:
•black bean soup (also GFCFvegan)
•curried rice and lentil soup (also GFCF/vegan)
•french moroccan tomato lentil soup (also GFCF/vegan)
•garden vegetable soup and gazpacho
•portuguese kale soup
•southwest tortilla soup
•tomato rice soup
•vegetarian black bean soup (also GFCF/vegan)
•vegetarian chili (also GFCF/vegan)
•vegetarian lentil soup (also GFCF/vegan)

When I spoke to the manager at the Au Bon Pain at Laguardia airport in New York City, she showed me the new labels which show whether the soups contained certain allergens. The new labels contain icons for major allergens like the one shown in the picture. Not all the soups were labeled because she said they were new signs and she hadn't received them all. Looking at the ingredient list in her binder she said the only soup they carried that didn't have gluten was the minestrone--but actually the minestrone contained durum semolina--so it isn't gluten free. It was nice that she looked it up, but I took a picture of the ingredient list and found the durum semolina buried deep in the middle of the ingredient list. But the newly labeled soups do match up to the ones that are listed on the Au Bon Pain website so I would think in the coming months as they move toward their new menu you will be able to find some gluten free soups at more Au Bon Pain restaurants. They icons they list on their website are: soy, eggs, shellfish, wheat, tree nuts, peanut, sesame, fish, milk, sulfites as well as vegetarian.

Regardless of how fast the change comes, moving to the new labeling is huge for everyone with allergies and intolerances. I love, love, love the cool icons with the allergens underneath. Since processed food served in these settings is such a streamlined chain and the products are made in factories and shipped ready made to these chains there is an opportunity to provide customers with food free of allergens. I am happy that Au Bon Pain is recognizing this opportunity to give their customers more information about their products.

I wasn't planning on actually eating soup--it was 8:30 in the morning and I was at the airport surprisingly early so I was interested in what might be gluten free for another time. I got a fresh squeezed orange juice. It was delicious.


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