Are IHOP Pancakes Gluten Free?

Are IHOP Pancakes Gluten Free?

No. Even IHOP Gluten-Friendly pancakes are not gluten free!

Did that answer your questions?

But seriously, do not go to IHOP and expect truly gluten-free pancakes. The vast majority of their menu is gluten-containing. Even their omelettes are not safe for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity IHOP uses traditional gluten-containing pancake batter to make their omelettes more fluffy. While their pancakes are delicious (I still remember them), they are not safe for those with celiac.

And that brings me to my next point – why did a restaurant that prides itself in the amount of gluten-full items introduce a “gluten friendly” pancake without retrofitting their kitchens or training their staff to avoid cross contact? No idea.

Image of IHOP Gluten Friendly Menu with a caption asking if IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes are Really Gluten Free

Are IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes Safe For Celiac Disease?

No.

In 2019, IHOP launched their “gluten friendly” pancakes. If you didn’t catch on by the use of the term “gluten friendly” instead of the FDA-regulated term “gluten free,” good for you. IHOP is hoping that this catch-all phrase “gluten friendly” convinces you that they’re attempting to make a safe breakfast for those that have to be gluten free. Nope!

IHOP’s Facebook Response to Cross Contact

Are IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes Gluten Free?

NO.

Words matter, especially to the FDA, and especially to those of us eating gluten-free for a medical necessity. “Gluten Friendly” is not a regulated term and would be better stated “Gluten Reduced” or “We really wanted to capture a percentage of the market that is going gluten-free for perceived health benefits but without a medical necessity.”

Gluten Friendly is a term used by restaurants to attempt to accomodate those that are gluten-free from a trend, or those avoiding gluten, but can deal with cross contact (perhaps those avoiding FODMAPs for IBS? Then why not call them a FODMAP friendly pancake?!?!). However, this does not fit the medically necessary gluten-free diet for those with celiac.

“IHOP defines gluten-friendly as menu items prepared without gluten-containing ingredients based on information from our approved suppliers. We do not claim that items marked as gluten-friendly are “gluten free” because we cannot confirm that they meet the FDA’s definition of “gluten free” (< 20 parts per million of gluten).

Because we have multiple sources of gluten in our shared cooking and prep areas, including common fryer oil, we are unable to guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of gluten or allergens.”

IHOP.com

If you’ll notice, this is more than the cover-your-ass statement that most restaurants make per their legal team. IHOP is admitting that it cannot conform to the FDA standards of 20ppm and thus using the term “friendly.” While I appreciate their honesty, my fear is that:

  • People with celiac who are new, or just not aware of what questions to ask restaurants, will eat here all the time (I mean, who doesn’t want to feel normal and have pancakes like everyone else – sigh).
  • Friends and family who see the advertisements will beg their celiac friends to go with them, and then we have to explain the entire FDA ruling, cross-contact in restaurants, and our friends will never ask us out again.

So If IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes Aren’t Safe, Why Did They make Them?

So why did IHOP create gluten-friendly menu items? They said it themselves – for a “lifestyle trend.” Check out this article from Baking Business.

“Gluten-friendly pancakes are one of the most requested menu items from our guests, and it was really important to us that we got the recipe just right,” said Alisa Gmelich, vice-president of marketing at IHOP, a Dine Brands Global, Inc. subsidiary.

“Our culinary team outdid themselves coming up with a gluten-friendly batter that addresses this growing lifestyle trend without trading off on the hot, fluffy, deliciousness that only IHOP pancakes deliver. We’re proud to be the first national restaurant chain to put a gluten-friendly pancake on the menu, further demonstrating how we’re innovating to meet changing guest food preferences.

VP of Marketing, IHOP

What about the people on Facebook groups saying they ate there without issues? Remember, just because you don’t feel something doesn’t mean it isn’t well above 20ppm and capable of causing long term damage if eaten regularly.

To reiterate, IHOP’s Gluten-Friendly Pancakes are not safe for those with celiac due to cross-contact in their preparation and handling.

Is Anything at IHOP Gluten Free?

If you absolutely have to eat at IHOP, like you’re at a truckstop and there is no other safe food for miles, stick to eggs made any way but omelette style (remember their omelettes contain pancake batter), their salads without grilled meat, or plain meat asked to be prepared in a separate pan and not on the griddle. Remember to ask all the cross-contact questions and alert them that you have an allergy.

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