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    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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    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.

    Yup. If they want to refer to it as 'gluten conscious', have at it. However, the words 'gluten-free' should never be mentioned at all.

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    Ann's 12/7 comment above is right on! We all welcome Panera's effort, however, with out taking the next step of protecting against cross contamination it's foolish idea for most of us! And someone should tell Panera of this serious problem!

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    It will take more than a gluten-free bread to make this work. Cross-contamination in a bakery like Panera will be a huge problem unless they implement safeguards, like separate prep areas and baking ovens.

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    The only way I would feel comfortable eating this bread is if it came completely sealed, and they had a separate prep area and toaster, if I saw them change gloves, and they were proactive about it, because otherwise I would be concerned that the food prep area might be contaminated from the last 3 times they did prep there right after touching regular wheat bread without changing gloves. I would worry about them cutting the other bread and then using the same gloves to reach into the food bins with ingredients. Basically in a place like Panera, it would be hard for them to have a dedicated gluten-free space AND ALSO protect the shared ingredients from bread crumbs during the normal course of food prep.

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    I enjoy soup and salad at Panera Bread. However, the gluten free soups are limited to one (Creamy Tomato) or two. Can this be corrected with the addition of more gluten free soups?

    Thank you!

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    Guest thisscreennametaken

    Posted

    I agree with other posters that this is not sufficient for those with Celiac, but it IS good news for those of us with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Yes. it IS a thing. I avoid gluten not because it's trendy, or to lose weight, but because I was desperate to find out what was wrong with me for the last 30 years, and my bloodwork came back negative for Celiac, but my pathology report had "unspecified abnormailities." Great, doc- thanks! So, I stopped eating gluten and within days all my symptoms were gone, and they dont't come back unless I screw up and take in gluten somehow. However, I don't get as sick as people with Celiac, and my threshold for contamination is somewhat higher. So I can't eat a piece of bread, or even visible breadcrumbs left on my salad accidentally, but microscopic contamination doesn't USUALLY affect me. Sorry, celiac sufferers- I do sympathize with you, but you have to understand that it takes a lot of time and a major financial commitment for a company to truly say they are "gluten free."

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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.

    I totally agree. Why bother!!! This will NOT be safe for people with celiac. I don't understand why people are so excited!!

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    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!

    My head is shaking as well, and it really concerns me that so many say their child has celiac disease, but they plan to take them there. Huh!!!? Not safe for folks with celiac disease.

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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.

    Well said! I couldn't agree more!

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    All the hype-but in the end it's very disappointing that celiacs are not taken seriously. I agree with Ann (12/7 post). I would love to be able to eat out more often, especially being celiac for 11 years.

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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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