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Is California Pizza Kitchen Committed to Gluten-Free?
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.
This 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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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams