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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Panera Quietly Testing Gluten-Free Bread Options

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      To be successful, the chain will have to succeed where many others have failed; they will have to produce a high-quality product that is tasty, commercially viable, and safe for people with celiac disease.


    Celiac.com 12/04/2015 (Updated 02/11/2019) - Note that since this article was originally published Panera changed their offerings from “gluten-free” to “gluten-friendly” due to the risk of cross-contamination, and their Web site indicates that their offering are not safe for celiacs. 

    In what may be good news for gluten-free bread lovers, Panera Bread, the national-fast casual restaurant that centers around freshly baked goods, is now testing out a new products to bring in gluten-free customers.

    Photo: CC--Smantha CeleraThe company plans to test a gluten-free Rosemary Focaccia Roll in 15 stores in the Detroit area, and plans to take the product nation-wide in the second half of 2016. To be successful, the chain will have to succeed where many others have failed; they will have to produce a high-quality product that is tasty, commercially viable, and safe for people with celiac disease.

    Panera's effort is headed in part by the company's head baker Tom Gumpel, who says that there is currently "…little to no good-tasting gluten-free bread in this country, and I've eaten about every slice there is."

    To solve the quality/taste challenge, Panera has created a focaccia roll rather than a loaf of bread. The roll is made from white sorghum from Africa, and contains sprouted broccoli, chia, and flax seeds for better nutrition and improved bread texture.

    As far as folks with celiac disease are concerned, they will need to exercise some caution, because while Panera's bread is made in gluten-free facility and with gluten-free ingredients, it will be stored and served alongside the store's regular offerings, which may be an issue for more sensitive people.

    A review by Yahoo Food says that the bread is made with olive oil, and then basted with it, giving the bread a slightly greasy quality. The flavor becomes more nutty and rich with toasting, and may work best on breakfast or hot sandwiches.

    As for price, in the test region, the bread will cost $1.50 more as an option on a sandwich, 75 cents more as a side choice, and a $1 each if purchased retail.

    What do you think? Excited to try Panera's new gluten-free focaccia? Share your comments below.

    Read more at Yahoo.com


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    Many older celiacs who are faced with poor quality bread daily (like myself) fondly remember the feel of good bread in our mouths and often wish for a slice of Wonder Bread. Some thing that toasts well and doesn't feel like a rock in our stomachs after eating. Maybe a roll with a soft torn interior and a little bit of crunch on the outside. The closest I've found is the soft white bread Aldi's makes. If you can surpass that, celiacs will beat a path to your door.

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    I have been hounding Panera sites and e-mails to Panera execs for 8 years!! My wait is on the way to be fulfilled!! Yea!!!!!!! I have celiac disease and I welcome the interest in gluten-free products. I bake my own breads but it's just not the same. But I will admit some products are just not good. Hope Paneras products are tasty and can't wait til mid 2016!!

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    I really don't know how to rate this article. It is written to provide information so it's not the article's fault that I have an issue with it's content.

     

    It always negatively amazes me when a company announces that they are going to or provide a gluten free food and then add the disclaimer similar to Panera's that "As far as folks with celiac disease are concerned, they will need to exercise some caution, because while Panera's bread is made in gluten-free facility and with gluten-free ingredients, it will be stored and served alongside the store's regular offerings, which may be an issue for more sensitive people."

     

    Guess what? If your food item is stored and/or served alongside gluten containing food items and there is cross-contamination --- your supposed gluten-free offering is NO LONGER GLUTEN FREE. So why bother? Who are you try to appeal to the people who think Gluten free is a type of "diet" that you can choose to be on or not? Or the people for which a Gluten Free diet is medically necessary (eg. for Celiac Disease) and they have no choice but to be on it?

     

    Why "try" to sound like you care about the folks who must adhere to a "true" Gluten free diet, when you won't take the time or training to ensure your product(s) remains gluten free from the time the ingredients are put together to make the food to the to it is put on the customer's plate.

     

    Shaking my head.

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    I really don't know how to rate this article. It is written to provide information so it's not the article's fault that I have an issue with it's content.

     

    It always negatively amazes me when a company announces that they are going to or provide a gluten free food and then add the disclaimer similar to Panera's that "As far as folks with celiac disease are concerned, they will need to exercise some caution, because while Panera's bread is made in gluten-free facility and with gluten-free ingredients, it will be stored and served alongside the store's regular offerings, which may be an issue for more sensitive people."

     

    Guess what? If your food item is stored and/or served alongside gluten containing food items and there is cross-contamination --- your supposed gluten-free offering is NO LONGER GLUTEN FREE. So why bother? Who are you try to appeal to the people who think Gluten free is a type of "diet" that you can choose to be on or not? Or the people for which a Gluten Free diet is medically necessary (eg. for Celiac Disease) and they have no choice but to be on it?

     

    Why "try" to sound like you care about the folks who must adhere to a "true" Gluten free diet, when you won't take the time or training to ensure your product(s) remains gluten free from the time the ingredients are put together to make the food to the to it is put on the customer's plate.

     

    Shaking my head.

    Ann, I agree totally with you! Also, when gluten-free products are being served by staff who don't really care or understand, the chances of cross contamination are even greater.

     

    My head is shaking along with yours!

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    I am 11 years old and I have celiac disease and I'm always looking for a good bread, I have Udi's bread for lunch every day. I love going to Panera but they've never have many GLUTEN FREE options. I'm glad their trying it out!

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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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