Did an Oklahoma Pizza Hut Discriminate Against a Celiac Child?

December 6, 2011

Did an Oklahoma Pizza Hut Discriminate Against a Celiac Child?

Mother and son were asked to leave after bringing in food from another restaurant.

Individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are often advised to carry their own food in case gluten-free options are not available at a restaurant. However, when an Oklahoma mother recently brought a McDonald’s meal into a Pizza Hut, she was asked to leave and is now claiming discrimination against her celiac son.

The meal was for Candi Smithson’s 2-year-old son, Preston, who has celiac disease and also must avoid dairy products. When the group they were traveling with decided they wanted pizza – something her son couldn’t eat – Smithson stopped at McDonald’s to pick up a bunless hamburger patty and fries* for her son, then brought the bag into Pizza Hut to rejoin the group.A waitress noticed the bag and asked them to dispose of it. When Smithson explained that her son had special dietary needs, the waitress stated that it was company policy. A manager stood by the policy and asked the group to leave.

Smithson now believes that the incident violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with conditions that affect “major life activities,” as reported by NewsOK. The mother does not intend to sue Pizza Hut over the matter, but she would like to see the policy changed, the article noted.

Read the full article on NewsOK.com.

*Note: The celiac and gluten-free community has mixed opinions about McDonald’s french fries. An ingredient list posted by McDonald’s notes that the fries use a beef flavoring that contains wheat. However, as Amy Ratner reported in
Gluten-Free Living
, Vol. 9, issue 4, testing of both the flavoring and the finished fries found no detectable levels of gluten “using a test that was sensitive to 3 parts per million of gluten or more.” Further testing found “virtually no wheat-allergic residue,” according to a statement from McDonald’s cited in the article.