If you’ve been following the news regarding Domino’s foray into gluten-free and the NFCA’s Amber Designation for their pizzas — and judging by the comments and shares on our post about it, many of you have — then it will come as no surprise to you that the NFCA decided to act.
In light of the uproar, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has opted to suspend the designation; Amber was supposed to indicate that a restaurant had completed, “Ingredient Verification and Basic Server Training, but kitchen practices may vary widely.” The NFCA has removed the program from their website and issued a press release indicating that they will review the, “most effective and clearest way to warn the community of the risk of cross-contamination and the use of the phrase ‘Gluten Free.’”
For now, the gluten-free crust is still available at Domino’s, and the pop-up warnings indicating that it is not recommended for people with celiac disease are still loudly in place. The company’s website is host to a FAQ about their gluten-free options, and although it mentions the NFCA it does not mention the word Amber anywhere.
So, in general, this seems to be a good thing. The Amber Designation was confusing (I think Gluten Dude did a good job of explaining it) and no doubt whatever revisions the NFCA comes up with will be more easily understood by the general community.
However, the question remains: should Domino’s even have a gluten-free crust?
Opinions will differ, but I want to pull some text from their website to add into the conversation:
Domino’s worked closely with the NFCA and recognizes that with our current operational model we cannot, beyond all doubt, provide the environment needed to assure those with celiac disease that the whole pizza is 100 percent gluten free. Domino’s does not want to set unrealistic expectations of how the Gluten Free Crust is handled in our stores. Domino’s would rather be honest and transparent about this product and avoid risking a customer ordering this product under false pretenses. Domino’s includes its Gluten Free Crust disclaimer in store, online, in all advertising and on all pizza boxes.
Well, it’s nothing if it isn’t honest. And given that we all know that the opportunity for cross-contamination is a very real thing, and that a fast food chain pizzeria is maybe the most difficult type of kitchen to eat from safely with celiac, it’s this blogger’s opinion that credit should be given where credit is due: they warned us.
In my 9 years since diagnosis, I’ve seen a lot of gluten-free menus and “gluten-free menus” — but I’ve never seen so many disclaimers. And I’d hate to think that the outrage over Domino’s admitted inability to guarantee safety for celiacs will negatively influence other restaurants in the future , and tempt them to be more vague about the risks in their own kitchens.
And that’s the thing — there will always be risks (OK, maybe not at Chuck E Cheese’s). There’s a far greater gray area between safe and unsafe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity than the words “gluten-free” can make it seem, and a quick trip to any gluten-free forum (or the comments sections here) will make it clear that different people make different decisions about their own health, and have different needs. As time goes by, it’s true that we have more and more gluten-free options, but it’s also true that we each still need to make sure we’re vigilant about our own health — in whatever way, shape, or form we deem appropriate.
How do you think restaurants should handle the risk of cross-contamination?