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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Is California Pizza Kitchen Committed to Gluten-Free?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC-Dave Dugdale

    Celiac.com 09/05/2011 - The rise in celiac disease awareness and the explosion of foods for people who must eat gluten-free is generally a good thing. However, when companies rush products into the gluten-free market without a well-practiced and comprehensive plan, they can easily make mistakes.

    Consider the case of California Pizza Kitchen. In June, the company proudly announced the debut of a gluten-free pizza crust. Then, in August, the restaurant chain quietly pulled the crust from its menu, in what appears to be a re-evaluation of its gluten-free preparation process.

    Photo: CC-Dave DugdaleThis is a good thing, since numerous customers complained of symptoms of gluten-contamination, and the company itself acknowledged that their preparation process allowed possible cross-contamination from their standard pizza crusts.

    Many in the celiac community have pointed out that even though the crust is gluten-free, it is being prepared in the same areas as the gluten-containing crusts. So the pizza could be cross-contaminated with wheat, which has adverse health effects for people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity.

    On the California Pizza Kitchen Twitter feed, the company said that it is reviewing its preparation procedures, while leaving open the possibility that it might once again offer gluten-free pizza.

    Efforts by companies like Walt Disney, and more recently by Subway, show that it is possible to consistently deliver a safe and satisfying gluten-free dining experience to large numbers of people. However, it takes awareness of needs of the gluten-free community, and a comprehensive preparation and delivery plan to do it consistently well.

    Ideally, California Pizza Kitchen will learn and grow from this experience, and return from the drawing board with a plan to deliver safe, gluten-free versions of their unique and much-loved pizzas.

    Until then, stay tuned...


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    This highlights the need for all of us celiacs to be vigilant at each restaurant each time we visit. We cannot blithely accept "gluten-free" on the menu without first speaking with the management and discerning for ourselves whether they actually know what they are doing or not. By doing so, we not only protect our own health, but individually keep the pressure on these companies to do the right thing, not just what is trendy and hip in the restaurant industry in any given year.

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    I find this very interesting. Back in October 2011, I ordered a gluten free pizza online only to find when I arrived at the restaurant that they no longer provided a gluten free pizza. I asked when they might have this back on their menu and they said sometime in the next year. Yes. I was disappointed. I felt their menu online should have been updated to reflect this change.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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