Ingredient Lists for Meals in the Dining Car?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
4
I've already tried emailing Amtrak about this and got no response. Has anybody had any luck obtaining ingredient lists? I'm riding the California Zephyr in June, so I'm not sure if they will be offering the traditional menu or the flexible dining menu still due to Covid-19. I'm extremely sensitive to Guar Gum and MSG and would really like to know what menu items would be safe to eat.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
410
From what I understand, if you have something specific, you'd have to call Amtrak and ask them. Guar gum should easier to avoid since it would be in more processed foods, as for MSG, I'm not sure how common it is in processed foods or if Amtrak uses it as a seasoning in food they prepare.
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,133
My suggestion is that you contact customer relations. I am allergic to garlic and customer relations was helpful, although it took a while. Although I was not provided a complete list of ingredients, I was informed that all of the flex dining entrees contain garlic.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
4
I finally got a response from Amtrak - I specifically asked if any of the flexible dining meals contained the ingredient Guar Gum. Their response does not answer my question at all! The online nutrition info does not list ingredients. This was the response I got:
We appreciate your concerns regarding allergies and special dietary needs while traveling on board our trains. The comments we receive from customers helps us to calibrate our services and make adjustments where warranted. Your concerns will be noted for management review and made a part of our permanent records.

As information, Amtrak is unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free environment, therefore we strongly encourage that passengers with life-threatening or severe allergies take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure. Passengers must travel with all necessary medications for food allergies and must be capable of self-administering these medications. You can view nutritional content, caloric information and food allergens for items on our menus online at Amtrak Food Facts.
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,133
I finally got a response from Amtrak - I specifically asked if any of the flexible dining meals contained the ingredient Guar Gum. Their response does not answer my question at all! The online nutrition info does not list ingredients. This was the response I got:
We appreciate your concerns regarding allergies and special dietary needs while traveling on board our trains. The comments we receive from customers helps us to calibrate our services and make adjustments where warranted. Your concerns will be noted for management review and made a part of our permanent records.

As information, Amtrak is unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free environment, therefore we strongly encourage that passengers with life-threatening or severe allergies take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure. Passengers must travel with all necessary medications for food allergies and must be capable of self-administering these medications. You can view nutritional content, caloric information and food allergens for items on our menus online at Amtrak Food Facts.
I will repeat my suggestion to contact customer relations. It took me a couple of months and many tries, but I finally received an answer to my question. I never received a full list of ingredients, but I learned about a specific ingredient.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
4
I will repeat my suggestion to contact customer relations. It took me a couple of months and many tries, but I finally received an answer to my question. I never received a full list of ingredients, but I learned about a specific ingredient.
Thanks Penny - I will try customer relations. I thought that's who I was contacting, but I guess there is a separate number for that.
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,133
Thanks Penny - I will try customer relations. I thought that's who I was contacting, but I guess there is a separate number for that.
It is a separate department with no separate number. You have to call the regular number and ask to speak to customer relations. Sometimes there is a long wait; other times not. There are not open on weekends. Good luck.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
25,834
Also, remember to ask the agent to connect you to Customer RELATIONS, not Customer Service!
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
686
If you cannot get a satisfactory answer from Amtrak, and your situation is serious enough (sounds like it is), I wouldn't chance it.

You can prepare your own food or bring prepared food you are sure about ingredients for and not worry about it. I find home-dehydrating solves a lot of these issues. Just rehydrate on board. But that's a lot of work, and requires a home dehydrator and other items you may not have. I used to do that a lot.

These days, here is my go-to:
They primarily serve the backpacking market and have an excellent reputation, but many others have discovered them and love PackIt too! The pandemic has brought them new customers and positive reviews.

PackIt Gourmet sells dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients for DIY. But they are best known for a complete curated menu of meal pouches for all three daily meals that you just add hot or cold water to, let rehydrate, and eat with a long spoon or spork right out of the pouch. They also have desserts and snacks. Their website is a treasure trove of info. Ingredients for each meal can be found on the packaging images on the site, and their excellent customer service folks can answer any questions not answered there, like your rather specific issue.

I don't mean to sound like a shill for this one company. I have no financial interest in it. There are other companies serving the same market with comparable products, so let Google be your friend and compare if you have time. This is just the one I know (well).

Having eaten railroad fare for over 40 years, I will admit nothing like this will satisfy pax nostalgic about the good old days. But IMHO it's better than much of what Amtrak is serving these days, and less expensive. It's a shame sleeper pax can't simply pay to travel and opt-in or opt-out of having meals included.

Best wishes...
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,023
Having eaten railroad fare for over 40 years, I will admit nothing like this will satisfy pax nostalgic about the good old days. But IMHO it's better than much of what Amtrak is serving these days, and less expensive. It's a shame sleeper pax can't simply pay to travel and opt-in or opt-out of having meals included.
No, the shame is that Amtrak can't or won't provide real meals without the plethora of additives and garbage and that they refuse to provide all the information about the garbage they serve. And this is from a company that doesn't believe in changing menus very often and has the clout to insist its suppliers provide nutrition information that can be posted on Amtrak's web site and/or provided to customers on request.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,800
If you cannot get a satisfactory answer from Amtrak, and your situation is serious enough (sounds like it is), I wouldn't chance it.

You can prepare your own food or bring prepared food you are sure about ingredients for and not worry about it. I find home-dehydrating solves a lot of these issues. Just rehydrate on board. But that's a lot of work, and requires a home dehydrator and other items you may not have. I used to do that a lot.

These days, here is my go-to:
They primarily serve the backpacking market and have an excellent reputation, but many others have discovered them and love PackIt too! The pandemic has brought them new customers and positive reviews.

PackIt Gourmet sells dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients for DIY. But they are best known for a complete curated menu of meal pouches for all three daily meals that you just add hot or cold water to, let rehydrate, and eat with a long spoon or spork right out of the pouch. They also have desserts and snacks. Their website is a treasure trove of info. Ingredients for each meal can be found on the packaging images on the site, and their excellent customer service folks can answer any questions not answered there, like your rather specific issue.

I don't mean to sound like a shill for this one company. I have no financial interest in it. There are other companies serving the same market with comparable products, so let Google be your friend and compare if you have time. This is just the one I know (well).

Having eaten railroad fare for over 40 years, I will admit nothing like this will satisfy pax nostalgic about the good old days. But IMHO it's better than much of what Amtrak is serving these days, and less expensive. It's a shame sleeper pax can't simply pay to travel and opt-in or opt-out of having meals included.

Best wishes...
Back in 1988, I hiked 100 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Maine and ate meals like this every night. They were edible and a preferred alternative to cooking a real meal after hauling a 40 lb pack over 10+ miles of very rough trail. However, I would say that Amtrak Contemporary Flex meals are way better in terms of culinary quality.

Perhaps over the years, Packit Gourmet has found a way to improve the culinary quality compared to whatever brand I used, but I can't see how they would do it. Also, of course, for those who need to be concerned about ingredients, it does seem that Packit might have more information than Amtrak does, so there is that.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
686
Indeed, a lot has improved regarding trail food and gear since 1988. I think you'd find today's trail "cuisine" to be of better quality, variety, and taste. Of course many hikers still make do with the same Ramen-based diet. Ugh.

Anyway, we're comparing it to current Amtrak offerings. Since one is DIY and the other is prepared and served, most would likely prefer Amtrak. It's always good to have alternatives tho. Packit might be a good option for the OP's issues.
 

20th Century Rider

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
114
If you cannot get a satisfactory answer from Amtrak, and your situation is serious enough (sounds like it is), I wouldn't chance it.

You can prepare your own food or bring prepared food you are sure about ingredients for and not worry about it. I find home-dehydrating solves a lot of these issues. Just rehydrate on board. But that's a lot of work, and requires a home dehydrator and other items you may not have. I used to do that a lot.

These days, here is my go-to:
They primarily serve the backpacking market and have an excellent reputation, but many others have discovered them and love PackIt too! The pandemic has brought them new customers and positive reviews.

PackIt Gourmet sells dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients for DIY. But they are best known for a complete curated menu of meal pouches for all three daily meals that you just add hot or cold water to, let rehydrate, and eat with a long spoon or spork right out of the pouch. They also have desserts and snacks. Their website is a treasure trove of info. Ingredients for each meal can be found on the packaging images on the site, and their excellent customer service folks can answer any questions not answered there, like your rather specific issue.

I don't mean to sound like a shill for this one company. I have no financial interest in it. There are other companies serving the same market with comparable products, so let Google be your friend and compare if you have time. This is just the one I know (well).

Having eaten railroad fare for over 40 years, I will admit nothing like this will satisfy pax nostalgic about the good old days. But IMHO it's better than much of what Amtrak is serving these days, and less expensive. It's a shame sleeper pax can't simply pay to travel and opt-in or opt-out of having meals included.

Best wishes...
I so agree with you! The best eating on Amtrak is that which you control by bringing your own on board. ALSO! The cafe attendants are supposed to provide ice and / or hot water if you have your own containers. So you can bring powdered coffee, tea, coco, etc. For that first day of a longer trip some cold cooked chicken and hard boiled eggs are good. PBJ and cheeses after that; bread, cookies, munchies, carrot and celery sticks, etc., and if you're in a sleeper... a little wine... and you're all set!🍱

Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 9.56.41 AM.png
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,764
I've already tried emailing Amtrak about this and got no response. Has anybody had any luck obtaining ingredient lists? I'm riding the California Zephyr in June, so I'm not sure if they will be offering the traditional menu or the flexible dining menu still due to Covid-19. I'm extremely sensitive to Guar Gum and MSG and would really like to know what menu items would be safe to eat.
PM me. Please. I have the same issue (guar gum specifically!) and have been working on it for several years.

If you can't figure out how to PM me (I can't figure out how to PM you), you can use my public email address, which is ncn_mail10 (at) fastmail (dot) fm.

We can work on this together. I would appreciate having a second person to work with.
 
Top