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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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    We were totally surprised to see the NFCA endorse this. It makes it even more difficult for the gluten free community to determine and trust what products are truly safe.

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    I emailed Domino's, letting them know how poor this choice is. Here is there response:

    Thank you for contacting the Domino's Pizza Customer Care Team. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that approximately 18 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity. While we can't recommend our Gluten Free Crust for everyone, it provides an option to many impacted by gluten sensitivity that didn't have a great-tasting pizza option before – and we hope this is a step toward a solution for many of these choice consumers.

     

    In addition to consulting with the NFCA along the process of training and testing – as well as earning its GREAT Kitchens Amber Designation for being an option for those with gluten sensitivity – Domino's wants to continue to be as informative as possible. We encourage you to watch a video, featuring our Chief Executive Officer Patrick Doyle, that explains that while our Gluten Free Crust itself is free from gluten, we operate in a common kitchen and cannot recommend this product for those with celiac disease.

    DISCLAIMER: Thank you for your interest in our New Gluten Free Crust! 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.

     

     

     

    Most sincerely,

     

    Domino's Pizza Customer Care

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    We are so disappointed in the NFCA and Domino's. It seems that they are catering to the gluten-free fad as those are the only people that can eat the pizza. I hope that Domino's will consider a wise investment and make real gluten-free pizzas.

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    Guest Jason Lengerd

    Posted

    Celiacs have been sold out and sold a bill of goods by NFCA.

     

    How can they keep a straight face with this release unless it is because of the dollars?

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    Scott,

     

    We appreciate your concern with this matter, and we are thankful that you offered us the invitation to respond.

     

    To begin, we created the GREAT Kitchens expansion to addresses what we feel is a self-guided, unsupervised gluten-free movement that has spread nationwide. Our multimedia training program is designed to address the misinformation, confusion and a lack of understanding regarding the differences between gluten-free ingredients, cross-contamination and what is, in fact, safe for consumption.

     

    To accompany this training, we created a credentialing – A Green and Amber Designation.

     

    We created a Green Designation for those restaurants willing to go through the extensive effort of using gluten-free ingredients, putting their staff through comprehensive training and ensuring that there are strict cross-contamination controls in their kitchens.

     

    For all of those restaurants that are not prepared to meet these three standards, we offer the Amber Designation, which acknowledges that the restaurant is using gluten-free ingredients and has completed staff training to understand the health needs of those with gluten-related disorders. However, these restaurants cannot guarantee an environment free of cross-contamination. Instead, their staff is trained to communicate these potential risks, as Domino's has done by including their disclaimer in all communications about the Gluten Free Crust and posting the video that you noted.

     

    Domino's partnered with NFCA because they wanted input from gluten-free experts. Instead of launching a gluten-free product independently, they actively sought out the NFCA and its GREAT Kitchens program to understand the safest, most transparent way to go to market. NFCA helped Domino's realize that the handcrafted nature of their pizzas and current store operations cannot guarantee a gluten-free pizza free of cross-contamination. As a patient advocacy organization, we felt it was our obligation to ensure that the potential cross-contamination was communicated to consumers.

     

    The GREAT Kitchens program is taking the steps to address those restaurants who promote gluten-free options without training, transparency or even knowledge of cross-contamination. Ultimately, we hope to move all restaurants to a Green Designation. We need your support in encouraging your local restaurant to do just that. Ask them to go the extra mile.

     

    Again, thank you for the opportunity to respond. We hope to gain the community's support as we move forward with our mission to eliminate the self-guided restaurateur and educate America's restaurants on what it takes to fully meet gluten-free needs.

     

    National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

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    I asked point blank if they took money from Domino's on NFCA's facebook page, and they admit it! I thanked them for further hurting the gluten-free branding that I rely on and will not return to that page.

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    Scott,

     

    We appreciate your concern with this matter, and we are thankful that you offered us the invitation to respond.

     

    To begin, we created the GREAT Kitchens expansion to addresses what we feel is a self-guided, unsupervised gluten-free movement that has spread nationwide. Our multimedia training program is designed to address the misinformation, confusion and a lack of understanding regarding the differences between gluten-free ingredients, cross-contamination and what is, in fact, safe for consumption.

     

    To accompany this training, we created a credentialing – A Green and Amber Designation.

     

    We created a Green Designation for those restaurants willing to go through the extensive effort of using gluten-free ingredients, putting their staff through comprehensive training and ensuring that there are strict cross-contamination controls in their kitchens.

     

    For all of those restaurants that are not prepared to meet these three standards, we offer the Amber Designation, which acknowledges that the restaurant is using gluten-free ingredients and has completed staff training to understand the health needs of those with gluten-related disorders. However, these restaurants cannot guarantee an environment free of cross-contamination. Instead, their staff is trained to communicate these potential risks, as Domino's has done by including their disclaimer in all communications about the Gluten Free Crust and posting the video that you noted.

     

    Domino's partnered with NFCA because they wanted input from gluten-free experts. Instead of launching a gluten-free product independently, they actively sought out the NFCA and its GREAT Kitchens program to understand the safest, most transparent way to go to market. NFCA helped Domino's realize that the handcrafted nature of their pizzas and current store operations cannot guarantee a gluten-free pizza free of cross-contamination. As a patient advocacy organization, we felt it was our obligation to ensure that the potential cross-contamination was communicated to consumers.

     

    The GREAT Kitchens program is taking the steps to address those restaurants who promote gluten-free options without training, transparency or even knowledge of cross-contamination. Ultimately, we hope to move all restaurants to a Green Designation. We need your support in encouraging your local restaurant to do just that. Ask them to go the extra mile.

     

    Again, thank you for the opportunity to respond. We hope to gain the community's support as we move forward with our mission to eliminate the self-guided restaurateur and educate America's restaurants on what it takes to fully meet gluten-free needs.

     

    National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

    Thank you for your reply. While I support guiding more restaurants towards safety for celiacs, I don't think that is what is going on in the case of Domino's. Actually, I think the NFCA putting their stamp of approval on this, which is what you have done, could actually end up hurting many celiacs, and that is who you are supposed to be helping, isn't it? So is it safe to say then, that anyone can get an "Amber Designation" from you, even if the likelihood of cross-contamination is extremely high? Again, I think putting the NFCA's stamp of approval on anyone who wants it is a very bad idea. Also, besides taking money from Domino's to get your approval, what did you contribute to making their pizzas safer for celiacs? It sounds to me like they launched this line of pizzas exactly how they intended in the first place, which is making them unsafe for celiacs. What influence did you have on them?

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    I asked point blank if they took money from Domino's on NFCA's facebook page, and they admit it! I thanked them for further hurting the gluten-free branding that I rely on and will not return to that page.

    All of the credentialing programs (GIG, NFCA) accept money, so this is a non-starter.

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    As the NFCA has explained, the Amber designation is available for business that have gluten-free ingredients per se but for whatever reason don't hold out that the end product is safe for everyone. Domino's was coming out with this pizza regardless of the NFCA's involvement, so the NFCA was proactive in letting its core constituency know that it wasn't safe.

     

    As far as money goes, this very site accepts payment for product reviews, so the idea of criticizing the NFCA for accepting money is ludicrous. In any event, it's unlikely that Domino's would advertise on a site called "celiac.com" given that the pizza isn't appropriate for many who read it.

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    I am extremely disappointed to continually read that Alice Bast, NFCA founder, tasted the pizza after special safeguards were put in place for her to avoid cross contamination, and she calls it "delicious." That's an endorsement, folks, and it's an endorsement under false pretenses. Then the NFCA has the nerve to not recommend the pizza to celiacs when their own founder has tried it and endorsed it. Who is guiding the leadership of the NFCA? Some feel betrayed, not unlike the Komen situation. I wish the NFCA would do or say something to restore our faith in them again but in the absence of that, I will now rely on GIG.

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    As the NFCA has explained, the Amber designation is available for business that have gluten-free ingredients per se but for whatever reason don't hold out that the end product is safe for everyone. Domino's was coming out with this pizza regardless of the NFCA's involvement, so the NFCA was proactive in letting its core constituency know that it wasn't safe.

     

    As far as money goes, this very site accepts payment for product reviews, so the idea of criticizing the NFCA for accepting money is ludicrous. In any event, it's unlikely that Domino's would advertise on a site called "celiac.com" given that the pizza isn't appropriate for many who read it.

    How wrong you are Mark...Domono's ads did start running on this site in the Ads by Google areas the day they launched their so called "gluten-free" pizza, so they are actively buying ad space on google under the terms "gluten-free pizza." I could easily accept their money and display them, but I instead chose the correct choice--to block them. I went into my Google AdWords account and blocked all ads from dominos.com. I won't take their money, unlike the NFCA, who, through their Amber Designation will apparently take anyone's money.

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  • About Me

    In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I founded The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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