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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Domino's Pizza Now Offers "Almost" Gluten-Free Pizza (So Be Careful!)

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--janetmck

    I have a big issue with what I believe to be a misleading headline in a recent joint press release by Domino's Pizza and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)...here is the headline:

    "Domino’s Pizza Becomes First National Pizza Delivery Chain to Offer Gluten Free Crust"

    Photo: CC--janetmckWhen you read the release further, starting at the 5th paragraph, which many people will never get to, it says:

    "While Domino’s new Gluten Free Crust is appropriate for those with mild gluten sensitivity, Domino’s and the NFCA do not recommend it for those with celiac disease. Domino’s and the NFCA found that while the crust is certified as gluten free, current store operations at Domino’s cannot guarantee that each handcrafted pizza will be completely free from gluten."

    So my question is this: How can the NFCA, a national organization dedicated to supporting celiacs, actually get behind this? Domino's is obviously a big corporation that has decided it wants to cash in and profit on the new gluten-free gold rush, but they cleary don't want to spend the money that it would take to make their pizzas truely gluten-free, and safe for celiacs.

    The Designations area of the NFCA's web site begins with: "Restaurants that complete GREAT Kitchens earn a designation based on their ability to meet gluten-free needs and avoid cross-contamination with gluten."  Just below this it describes their "Green Designation" and its "Amber Designation," and describes its Amber Designation as follows: "This level requires ingredient verification and basic training of wait staff and managers. Kitchen practices may vary with this designation, level one of the tier system, meaning those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should ask questions and exercise judgment when dining at an establishment with an Amber Designation. Domino's has earned this designation."  So how has Domino's met "gluten-free needs and avoid cross-contamination with gluten"?

    Also, I think any celiac who watches the video Domino's made for this release will find it a bit scary...the same ovens, pizza scoopers, topping areas, etc., as where they make their regular gluten pizzas.

    I would exclude Domino's as an advertiser on Celiac.com based on this release.

    Some might think that the NFCA has sold out here. I invite them to respond using the comment field below, and I invite you to respond.

     

     

    Here is the original press release:

    ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 7, 2012 – Domino's Pizza is responding to the needs of choice consumers, today launching a Gluten Free Crust available in all of its nearly 5,000 U.S. stores and becoming the first national pizza delivery chain to offer such a product.

    Domino’s Pizza (NYSE: DPZ) consulted with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to ensure its products and team member training meet the standards of the foundation’s GREAT Kitchens Amber Designation. NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens is an official credentialing program that has expanded to include restaurants offering gluten free products with varying kitchen practices, therefore suitable for those with gluten sensitivity under the Amber Designation.

    Domino’s new Gluten Free Crust provides a great-tasting option for consumers who previously could not enjoy pizza from the recognized world leader in pizza delivery because of sensitivity to gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

    “Many of our customers have asked for a gluten free crust, and Domino’s is excited to offer a product to customers with mild gluten sensitivity – as well as partner with the NFCA, which has been instrumental to our learning more about how to take this step,” said J. Patrick Doyle, Domino’s Pizza president and CEO. “The prevalence of gluten sensitivity has become a real issue with significant impact on consumer choice, and we want to be a part of the solution. Now, the whole group can enjoy Domino’s with the addition of our new Gluten Free Crust.”

    While Domino’s new Gluten Free Crust is appropriate for those with mild gluten sensitivity, Domino’s and the NFCA do not recommend it for those with celiac disease. Domino’s and the NFCA found that while the crust is certified as gluten free, current store operations at Domino’s cannot guarantee that each handcrafted pizza will be completely free from gluten.

    “The NFCA is thrilled that Domino’s Pizza has developed a product that will improve the quality of life for many of the estimated 18 million Americans who are gluten sensitive,” said Alice Bast, NFCA founder and president. “Not only is Domino’s Gluten Free Crust a huge win for much of the gluten free community who can now get pizza delivered to their door, it’s also delicious. Customers aren’t going to believe they’re eating a pizza made on a gluten free crust when they try it. And the variety of fresh toppings that are available is a giant leap ahead.”

    In an effort to remain open and informative about Domino’s Gluten Free Crust, Domino’s has created a video on YouTube that allows customers to decide whether this product is suitable for their diet, found here: www.youtube.com/user/dominosvids.

    “Offering Domino’s Gluten Free Crust is a big step for us, and we wanted to make sure we were doing it right,” said Doyle. “Domino’s is doing that by partnering with experts at the NFCA and by empowering the gluten sensitive community with the information they need.”

    Domino’s new Gluten Free Crust is available in stores across the U.S. in a small, 10-inch size only, and prices vary by store.

    Domino’s pizza made with a Gluten Free Crust is prepared in a common kitchen with the risk of gluten exposure. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness supports the availability of Domino’s Gluten Free Crust, but cannot recommend the pizza for customers with celiac disease. Customers with gluten sensitivities should exercise judgment in consuming this pizza.

    About Domino’s Pizza®
    Founded in 1960, Domino's Pizza is the recognized world leader in pizza delivery.  Domino’s is listed on the NYSE under the symbol “DPZ.”  As of the first quarter of 2012, through its global footprint primarily made up of locally-owned and operated franchises, Domino’s operated a network of 9,810 franchised and Company-owned stores in the United States and over 70 international markets.  During the first quarter of 2012, Domino’s had global retail sales of nearly $1.7 billion, comprised of over $830 million domestically and nearly $855 million internationally.  Domino's Pizza had global retail sales of over $6.9 billion in 2011, comprised of over $3.4 billion domestically and over $3.5 billion internationally. In May 2011, Pizza Today named Domino’s its “Chain of the Year” for the second straight year – making the company a three-time overall winner, and the first pizza delivery company to receive the honor in back-to-back years.  In 2011, Domino’s was ranked #1 in Forbes Magazine’s “Top 20 Franchises for the Money” list.  

     

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    Posted

    So I have several issues here.

     

    1. Unless you are using the gluten-free diet as a 'fad' diet then this pizza isn't ok. Who chooses to eat gluten free pizza if they don't have to? Not many people - certainly not enough to make a national chain keep it on the menu.

     

    2. By having the NFCA endorse this pizza IN ANY WAY misrepresents their stated goals. By the way – I briefly browsed the site and could not find any information on this ‘amber' certification and what it means. It also cheapens the plight for REAL celiacs who do get sick because when you certify a non-gluten free pizza. For those of us who have been around for a while we know that acts like this only hurt our cause and not help it. It gives the impression to uneducated people that it really is OK to eat a little gluten and that we are all hypochondriacs like they all thought to begin with…

     

    3. I now question ANY product certified by the NFCA and won't rely on their certification certifications seal from this point forward so they have jeopardized their entire client base (both manufacturers and consumers) by this irrational decision. Now that I think of it I have a lot of problems with products they certify so maybe even their ‘green' certification is a scam too.

     

    4. I can't seem to find one single way this is helping celiacs. Their mission and values statement says. I'm not sure how them certifying a non-gluten free product is meeting any of these:

     

    Mission:

    Through empowerment, education and advocacy, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) drives diagnoses of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders and improves the quality of life for those on a lifelong gluten-free diet.

     

    Values:

    We believe in a patient-centered healthcare model that is grounded in science, promotes collaboration and supports a comprehensive approach to health and wellness.

     

    Strategies:

    Empowerment: NFCA empowers patients to take responsibility for their own health and provides the information and tools necessary to maximize their health and quality of life.

     

    Education: NFCA educates individuals, healthcare providers and the food industry to understand the needs of those maintaining a gluten-free diet and to support patients in seeking an improved quality of life, beginning with an accurate diagnosis.

     

    Advocacy: NFCA advocates for access to high quality healthcare, along with gluten-free food and drug safety standards, by providing training and resources to the food industry and regulatory agencies.

    With regard to you being unable to find information on the NFCA's 'amber' designation, this is probably because they have since suspended use of it and removed any information relating to it from their website.

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    Going from excited to disappointment, the NFCA has to do a better job in giving their approval to something as serious as gluten free food.

    Thank you for saying what we are all thinking!

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    If you eat food prepared by anyone other than yourself, or made in a dedicated 100% gluten-free facility, you are taking the chance that a mistake could be made, and you could ingest some amount of gluten. Not everyone with celiac disease is so sensitive (or perhaps, so wealthy!) that they are willing to restrict their dining options to that level. There are many people like me - I personally know quite a few - who do have celiac, have been tested and diagnosed by legitimate doctors, but whose symptoms are minor or nonexistent. I myself had the gastroenterologist work with me for an hour, trying to find something, anything, that we could consider a celiac symptom. We couldn't. Since there is so little information on the effects of not following a gluten-free diet on asymptomatic celiacs (the only study I read that directly addressed it found no significant differences in mortality, cancer rates, or any other illness), we don't feel the need to by hypersensitive about accidentally ingesting one molecule of gluten. That means I will ask people about the ingredients in their food, but then I will trust them to be telling the truth. It also means that I know there is a possibility of someone making an innocent mistake that results in my consuming some gluten. I understand that for those who are very sensitive, there is great motivation to avoid getting anywhere near gluten because of the painful reactions that can follow. But please keep in mind the growing numbers of us who might get sick from eating a slice of non-gluten-free pizza, but will be fine after eating gluten-free pizza that was cooked in the same oven as non-gluten-free pizza. For me, gluten-free Domino's pizza means I can actually find something for myself and my son to eat when there are no other options, or when we are traveling in a new area. I think their disclaimer gives us the information we need: this pizza is not safe for those who are very sensitive, but it is fine for those who can deal with the possibility of trace amounts of gluten.

     

    Realize also that many of the so-called gluten-free products we spend so much money on and so much time searching out are not tested or verified in any way. You have to be willing to ask the pertinent questions yourself, and to put a certain amount of trust in the people who are going to prepare your food. If you aren't, then plan on cooking everything for yourself, because anyone is capable of making a mistake.

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    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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