Tonight I had a disaster at Ono Gelato in Paia. I had just heard about the new gluten free cone offerings at Ono Gelto online a few months ago, and I even looked them up on Facebook before going tonight, so I figured that they were learning. Well, I found out that while the three Ono Gelato locations on Maui are all the same company, they are not the same owners. So, while one location may be figuring out the need for gluten free products and gluten free safety, other locations are not.
That’s where tonight comes in. I am writing through my quickly developing brain fog to warn others. I read the ingredients sign under the “Sandy Beach” flavor and didn’t see anything that would be harmful to me. I saw, “Peanut butter, coconut candy, macadamia nuts and sea salt.” Those are all naturally gluten free ingredients. I even asked the server about the gluten free cones, and that’s when I found out about the franchised nature of the company. The Paia location does not carry the gluten free cones, and the employees had no clue about them. However, I wasn’t too scared as I’d had a great milkshake there only a few days before. Still, the server didn’t warn me to not eat the “Sandy Beach” flavor after I asked about the gluten free cones. It makes sense to me to ask a customer, who is inquiring about gluten free products, if they are gluten free before serving them something that is not gluten free.
When I got home I felt my stomach twitch. I knew something was wrong. My dinner had already been in my body for hours without trouble. So, I knew it had to be the gelato I had just before coming home. It was. I called up and asked for the ingredients. One ingredient stood out, “graham crackers.” Graham Crackers! Are you kidding me?! How could those not be listed on the sign? I made the girl who served me look. At first she swore it was on the sign, but upon inspection she noted that it was not. I said that it should be there as it is a common allergen for people, and that I was now sick because of it. I did state that I should have asked before ordering, but I really don’t think I should have to since the other ingredients were listed. If a restaurant is going to list a few of the ingredients then they should list them all. They especially should not omit common allergens. The server, on the phone, didn’t seem to care. She said she’d tell the owners my comments. I could tell by her tone that she has no intention of doing so. Had she responded without the bad attitude I might not have felt the need to write any of this.
This was my special treat for making an A on a final paper at school. This was something I looked forward to all day. Now I’m sick. Now I get to have brain fog. Now I get to have stomach pains and possible bathroom trips through the night. Now writing my other paper for school is going to be extra tasking because my brain won’t be thinking clearly. Now Devin has to take care of me. Now he is sad. Dammit. Yes, I am actually crying over this. Why? Because it feels so wrong. It ruined my special occasion. It’s upset Devin. It’s turned our fun night out into something else.
This isn’t just a little deal. This is a big deal! What if I had gone into shock? When people with gluten get sick it seems like nobody cares. When someone with a shellfish allergy has a reaction everyone cares. Their reaction may seem more immediate, but my body is also being harmed. Gluten contact can actually give me CANCER. Think about the times that you’ve had food poisoning, or seen someone with food poisoning. That sucks doesn’t it? Well, that’s what it’s like for me. This is like adding cyanide, arsenic, or rat poison to my food. I can’t even have a little. This isn’t a fad.
Please note: This is in regard to Ono Gelato’s Paia location only. I recently visited the Lahaina location where the staff was well educated and concerned about the well being of all of their customers. Please check the comments section of this post for a response from the Lahaina store owner where she reiterates this awareness.