Last week, I briefly mentioned the issue with the new Domino’s “gluten-free” pizza, and how they have no intentions of taking care not to contaminate it in the kitchen. What I didn’t tell you, because I was really upset, was that the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness was backing it, saying it was great for all of those people who eat gluten-free but are not celiac.
Well, it is, in fact, not great for them, and certainly not great for the rest of us who have to eat gluten-free. This just encourages other restaurants to do the same thing! Who will take Celiac Disease and the gluten-free diet when a national Celiac support group applauds this??? Not too many, I am sad to say.
Cynthia Kupper, national president of the Gluten Intolerance Group, wrote the following open letter to Alice Bast, president of the NFCA. Please read the letter, and sign the petition on Change.org to remove the NFCA’s Amber designation.
Open Letter to Alice Bast, Exec Director, NFCA
May 12, 2012
NFCA needs to remove the Amber designation from the Dominos “gluten-free” pizza. It is not safe for anyone requiring a GF diet for medical reasons. NFCA’s reputation as a respected organization is suffering by giving a useless Amber designation to Domino’s GF pizza. I implore you to consider the community we all support and want to help. Make the GREAT Kitchen’s Amber designation disappear for good.
There is inherent liability in the GREAT Kitchens Amber designation that will have serious ramifications to the food industry and those of us who are working to make a difference for all persons living gluten free.
1. Dividing the gluten free community is wrong. All persons living a gluten-free life style should have the same safe options in foods. Nearly the entire world accepts a definition for what gluten-free means. Stricter is better, but less than the standard is unacceptable. It goes against everything science tells us.
2. The GREAT Kitchens Amber sign is a useless designation for restaurants that causes confusion and consequently mistrust of the restaurant industry and the organizations who are working so hard to help them. The Amber designation sets us back years on all the strides we have made to get the food industry to embrace safe gluten-free foods.
Thursday night I listened to the Jules’ Gluten-Free Radio talk show with you as her guest. I have tried to make sense of your position for the GREAT Kitchens program Amber designation. I cannot understand why you are so passionate about a decal that sends mixed messages. The decal clearly states “GLUTEN-FREE” and ‘Kitchen practices may vary”. In a press release, you state NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens Amber designation is for “restaurants offering gluten free products with varying kitchen practices, therefore suitable for those with gluten sensitivity.” Yet the description of the program on your website states, “Amber Designation – …requires ingredient verification and basic training of wait staff and managers.” Kitchen practices may vary … 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.” These are two very different messages about the Amber designation.
Your biography states you are someone who is widely regarded as a celiac expert. I know you also attend many scientific meetings on gluten-related disorders. As such, your position that the Amber designation is helpful is even more alarming.
The GREAT Kitchen’s Amber designation sends a confusing and dangerous message to gluten-free consumers, yet you stand boldly and confidently behind it. I would be concerned about a malpractice suit.
As a national leader and dietitian, representing consumers with gluten-related disorders, I feel the GREAT Amber designation is not only dangerous, but also irresponsible. Eventually this program will hurt our constituents.
I feel NFCA’s messages related to what the Amber designation means for Domino’s gluten-free pizza crust, compared to statements on your website and by Domino’s are confusing. What does this really mean to consumers? Is it gluten-free or not? The sign says it is; the message says it is not. The sign does not say “not safe for celiacs, but may be ok for gluten sensitive persons”. The sign does not say, “Buyer Beware.” The sign does not say what you said on Jules’ radio show about its meaning, or what Dominos disclaimer says. So if the disclaimer is not with the sign or GF pizza crust, what do you think an unaware consumer is going to think?
I believe it would have been better for NFCA to tell Dominos that the cross contamination of the gluten free crust is too great and that NFCA cannot endorse such a product as gluten free. Why would NFCA work to raise awareness of cross contamination by endorsing a cross-contaminated product?
Every time I read someone’s post that they have no symptoms when eating Domino’s GF pizza, I cringe and get angry. We have all heard the medical experts say many times that ‘a lack of symptoms is NOT indicative of a lack of damage being done internally’. This is a major lawsuit waiting to happen. Stop using the GREAT Kitchen Amber designation now.
The celiac centers are also telling you this is a bad idea. Please listen to us all.
I hope that unnecessary harm will be adverted by NFCA taking immediate corrective action.
Cynthia Kupper, RD, GIG Executive