Pan-Asian chain P.F. Chang's is defending the gluten-free surcharge on its menus and arguing that it is not discriminatory. Yesterday, news broke that a woman sued the restaurant over the unequal pricing, arguing that it "violates the Americans with Disabilities Act" by forcing those who cannot eat gluten to pay more. Currently, P.F. Chang's charges gluten-free diners an additional dollar per item, compared to the regular versions of the dishes. The offended diner hopes to bring a class-action lawsuit against the chain on behalf of diners with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and is seeking restitution for all surcharges paid alongside compensatory damages.
A spokesperson for P.F. Chang's Canada — where the company has three locations — explains that the company charges more for gluten-free dishes due to the higher costs of speciality gluten-free ingredients. Plus, to be certified as gluten-free the food must be prepped in a separate area so that there is no cross contamination and cooked in separate woks with separate utensils. So really, they argue, the surcharge is simply due to restaurant business math.
The spokesperson notes that in Canada, the government also gives those who cannot eat gluten for medical reasons tax breaks, which in theory could easily compensate for any additional surcharge. Eater has reached out to P.F. Chang's US for comment.