Hidden ingredients at a restaurant.

Went for lunch today, ordered the meatloaf. The menu described it as 100% ground beef and as I was eating it I noticed some chopped up bacon in the meat. I don’t eat pork/bacon/ham so I was a little unhappy. I ate the sides instead. After lunch I discreetly got up and asked for the manager, who it turned out, was the chef owner. I explained that it didn’t occur to me to ask if there was bacon in it because the menu clearly said 100% beef. He was very courteous and offered to not charge me, but I had left my money on the table and said I wasn’t alerting him to get a free lunch but to just say the menu was misleading.

I do realize that restaurants can’t list every ingredient, nor do I expect them to but I felt that 100% beef was a little misleading if they are going to add bacon to it. Maybe my mistake I should have asked. This was an ‘upscale’ individually owned burger place, not a chain nor a diner.

Thoughts?

1 Like

I am on record as being staunchly against stealth bacon (I don’t eat bacon). I encountered it in a cream of broccoli soup in Vienna, and in a dish of noodles and cottage cheese in Budapest. If someone drafts a “full bacon disclosure” petition, I’ll sign it.

3 Likes

As a vegetarian I completely understand how upsetting that situation can be. I have also been unpleasantly surprised by bacon among other things that were not mentioned on the menu.
At this point i just do ask, unless i am in a restaurant where they clearly mark on the menu items that are vegan or vegetarian. I feel like that obnoxious patron, yet it’s potentially more obnoxious to send something back and just sucks to have a meal you aren’t able to eat.

I’ll be the first signature on small h’s bacon disclosure petition.

2 Likes

I’ll be #2 signature on your petition :wink:

2 Likes

I’d much rather eat bacon than meatloaf, but I do agree that the menu was misleading and understand that hidden pork would be a major issue for many people. I’m surprised that they wouldn’t mention the bacon as a selling point and charge extra for bacon meatloaf.

4 Likes

It was misleading for sure.

I don’t have any food issues, so it wouldn’t bother me and I don’t think every ingredient needs to be listed (that is rediculous IMHO) and I don’t think pork requires any special call outs.

But - by calling out 100% beef I would expect the meatloaf to - not contain only beef, there have to be spices, eggs, etc - but to have beef as the only meat.

4 Likes

I think it does, for people who do not eat pork due to religious dietary restrictions.

I’ll sign the Bacon Disclosure petition: after having been reassured that a soup was vegetarian, it arrived with crumbled bacon as a floating garnish. (Clueless server suggested we could scoop it out.)

Edited to add: Partner just reminded me that it was the restaurant where he sent back the soup due to the inclusion of bacon and asked for a salad, instead. It arrived with, yes, bacon on it. We cancelled our mains, left money for the drinks, and left.

4 Likes

I can’t shake the thought that this is how more than a few people end up with a bonus trip to the hospital with an allergic reaction.

I know people who are sensitive to the salts used in the curing process (and others who suffer from gout, for which cured meats are a trigger) who wouldn’t end up in the ER, but would be unwell for a few days.

Wendont need a recipe, but we news to either have detailed menus or educated servers

1 Like

Ah yes, the famous bacon as a soup or salad garnish.

1 Like

I expect to be in the minority on this - but agree and disagree.

Totally agree: if the menu says “vegetarian” or “100% beef” or “kosher” (etc) then it should be those things. So bacon crumbles on a vegetarian salad is deceptive and “wrong”.

Totally disagree: labeling menus for religious accommodations - for a whole host of personal and political reasons that are well beyond the nature of this forum and will just start unnecessary fights. Those accommodations I feel are the responsibility of the diner to ask about - but I do agree that the server should be knowledgeable about how dishes meet those requests and if possible restaurants should make accommodations to meet them the same way I would expect that for food allergies.

4 Likes

My wife has a soy allergy and every time we eat out she asks what seems like a million questions of what is in the food, what’s it cooked with ect. She has learned never to trust what they say is in it but to quiz them until they go back and ask the chef how it was prepared. So to the question Yes it should be as what the menu states but it probably won’t be. As for me I feel sorry for my waiter or waitress so they always get a nice tip for having to put up with us.

1 Like

I remember reading a story in either Scientific American or JAMA years ago about a teenager who
had died after eating chili in a restaurant. Peanut butter had been used to thicken the chili.
At that time it was considered a very progressive thing for a kitchen to do and thus not at all
known to the typical diner.
When the article was written it was a different world and the emphasis was on the tragic death which
was looked upon as a" rare and unfortunate incident" It was considered 100 percent accidental.
A fine example of the different world we live in now.

1 Like

I don’t expect an ingredient list in any menu item description but, I think, if an odd/strange ingredient is added then the menu should reflect that.

I remember that Mortons potato casserole has bacon fat in it. I found that out after eating some and wondering what the strange smokey flavor was. The menu describes it as a potato Lyonnaise with cream and cheese. Why would bacon fat go into that? I emailed them afterwards and never heard back. I think that’s another one where the menu should state that addition.

2 Likes

The problem is: What is strange?

1 Like

Ha good question.

1 Like

I guess what I was saying (I am sure you know) is that everyone is different. What is important to you may not be important to me. One person may care if nut is being used, and another person may care about if pork is used, and then another person may care if some of the ingredients may not be organically farmed, say the ground peppercorn on that organic filet mignon is not organic.

Since it is impossible to know everyone’s preference and to list every single ingredients, I think it is important for the customers to check and double check. It is tough, but I guess in all fairness… it is tough on us (customers) and it is tough on them (restaurants).

I do agree with you that 100% beef is a little confusing, if not misleading.

1 Like

I don’t know if it is really beyond the nature of this forum. However, I do agree that political and religious accommodations can be very difficult since there are many version of religion and political needs. For example, not all Hindi has the same diet restriction. I think from a practical point of it is a bit impractical to ask restaurants (maybe beside huge franchises and chains) to understand the needs for many religious and political needs.

1 Like

Recently, I have experienced something. I thought about a new thread, but I think it is closely related to this one. What about intentional mislabeling (like in this case adding bacon to meatloaf) vs unintentional mistake like contamination? Does it matter?

The first one is tough, but the latter one is even more difficult o address. For example, if the pans and pots were previously used to cooked pork? I assume there will be trace of pork residue on the cookware even after washing – especially carbon steel or cast iron cookware. What if they use a cutting board first for a pork and then a beef? They are unlikely going to thoroughly clean in between.

1 Like

I think unintentional cross contamination, regardless of if we are talking about pork/gluten/peanuts/etc, is something beyond the control of the diner and is accepted when letting someone else make your meal in a restaurant that does not cater to vegetarian/vegan/kosher/gluten free/allergy friendly clientele.
If food sensitivities/dietary restrictions/allergies are such that cross contamination is a concern then i think it is the customer’s responsibility to select a restaurant that can accomodate them.

7 Likes

The issue we always have is with chicken broth in “vegetarian” soups. I can tell right away. If the soup is too yummy, it has chicken broth.

What we used to do in this situation is just immediately request if they could ask the chef. And yes, it is kind of awkward as you mention. I don’t have as much energy these days, so I’ll often just avoid those dishes now. Long time ago, when email was the new, cool thing, we could find out before visiting a restaurant. But no one responds to email requests any more, let alone complicated ones.

Yes, it’s unavoidable and I don’t think it’s fair to ask a general restaurant to accommodate such requests.

It’s just one of those hypocrisies most Muslims live with. We also pretend like Vanilla Extract doesn’t contain alcohol and that alcohol evaporates when cooked.

I used to tease a Hindu friend who was vegetarian at home, yet ate chicken at people’s homes. Recently, I found out sugar is refined using bone char. Now I use only vegan sugar at home, but pretend like all sugar is vegan when I’m out.

3 Likes
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold