Cleveland Convention Center – Don’t Do It

I have been in Cleveland, OH for the past week for a conference that was going on at the Cleveland Convention Center. Like most conferences, they offered a “box lunch” option for the attendees. As I always do, I let the staff of the conference know of my celiac disease in advance and they let me know that there were gluten free meals available. I clarified that my condition made it that it needed to be made with extreme caution and they confirmed that I was not the only one with celiac disease. The staff was aware and making us a gluten free option for lunch that would be labeled accordingly. Great!

Or so it seemed. I had to leave the conference early that day (which is a total bummer because I missed the session I was most excited about) and barely made it back to my hotel in time before I had the pleasure of vomiting several times and being sick for the rest of the night. Ugh.

The next day when I was back at the conference, I let the staff of the event know that the GF meal was anything but. Apparently, they had already had multiple complaints from others who got sick from the “gluten free” option at lunch. The staff said they spoke with the staff there, but would recommend I make my decision for what was best for me. I chose to have lunch at Au Bon Pain (which was great and I will outline in a separate post). And, man, am I glad I made this decision. I heard from other conference attendees that the staff “mislabeled” the ham and turkey options (obviously, there are many people who don’t eat pork products so this is also a problem) and when the attendees showed their lunches saying, “This isn’t turkey.” they were told, “No, it’s just smoked which made it that color.” Really? Last I checked smoking turkey doesn’t turn it pink.

So, my advice? Whatever you do, avoid eating food at the Cleveland Convention Center if you have celiac disease or a serious sensitivity to gluten. Or, apparently, any other dietary need. They don’t appear to know what they are doing or care when they get it wrong.


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