Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. Many restaurants offer gluten-free menu options, but it’s always smart to ask questions if you need to avoid gluten.
The beef and broccoli entrée from Panda Express does not contain gluten-containing ingredients. However, cross-contamination is possible at Panda Express restaurants. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should exercise caution when ordering.
About Gluten and Potential for Cross-Contamination at Panda Express
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, fatigue and stomach pain when they eat gluten.
To avoid symptoms, following a strict gluten-free diet is essential. This means avoiding foods and ingredients that contain gluten. With the growing popularity of gluten-free diets in recent years, many restaurants like Panda Express offer gluten-free options and take steps to avoid cross-contamination.
However, there is still a chance of cross-contamination at restaurants if gluten-containing ingredients come into contact with gluten-free foods during preparation or cooking. At Panda Express, menu items like orange chicken are breaded and fried in the same oil as non-breaded items, increasing the risk of cross-contamination.
Ingredients in Panda Express Beef and Broccoli
The primary ingredients in the Panda Express beef and broccoli entrée include:
- Sliced beef
- Broccoli florets
- Soy sauce
- Seasonings like garlic and ginger
- Vegetable oil
None of these ingredients contains gluten. However, soy sauce often contains wheat. Panda Express uses tamari soy sauce, which is naturally gluten-free.
Preparation and Cooking at Panda Express
At Panda Express locations, the beef and broccoli is prepared on the wok line. It is cooked fresh to order in woks and served immediately. The beef is not breaded or battered, and broccoli is simply steamed.
While this entrée does not directly contain gluten, woks, utensils and cooking surfaces may become cross-contaminated throughout the day as other menu items containing gluten are cooked. Fried items like orange chicken tend to release airborne gluten particles as well.
How to Order Gluten-Free at Panda Express
If you need to avoid gluten, here are some tips for ordering the beef and broccoli safely at Panda Express:
- Ask if new, clean woks, utensils and cooking surfaces can be used to prepare your food
- Request that your food is prepared away from the main wok line if possible
- Ask if gloves can be changed and hands washed before handling your food
- Avoid ordering during busy times when cross-contamination risks increase
- Check that your food is labeled properly to avoid mix-ups
- Consider asking for food to be prepared in the back kitchen if available
Be aware that some locations may not be able to accommodate special requests. Policies likely vary by franchise, so your safest bet is to speak to the manager on duty when ordering.
What Panda Express Says About Gluten-Free Options
On its website, Panda Express states:
“We do not have a specific gluten-free menu; however, items from our regular menu can be modified to be prepared gluten-free.”
The company recommends checking with the chef or manager about ingredient lists and preparation procedures when ordering. They also note that guests should consider their own level of gluten sensitivity and associated risks when choosing to dine at Panda Express.
The beef and broccoli entrée at Panda Express does not contain gluten-based on the recipe ingredients. However, cross-contamination is possible during preparation and cooking. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use caution when ordering and check at their local restaurant about procedures for minimizing cross-contamination risks.
With special ordering instructions and chef accommodations, it may be possible to enjoy Panda Express beef and broccoli safely. But there are no guarantees when dining out with food allergies or intolerances. Those who are highly sensitive should consider the risks associated with potential cross-contamination at Panda Express restaurants.