I had a
different blog post lined up for today, which for dull reasons will now have to
wait a while for its ‘time’ to come around again, but an interesting
development in the States caught my eye, thanks to a tweet from a gluten-free
blogger called Michelle
Domino’s Pizza in
the States have launched a pizza made from a gluten free crust. You can learn a
lot about it on their FB page
, but the crust is made from rice and potato
flours and starches, with water, olive oil and a few other ingredients.
And they appear
to be rather proud of it, if this video
starring their CEO is anything to by. On
Monday the 7th
May, their twitter stream provided ample further
evidence of this, as they sent messages to a rollcall of stars who
have mentioned dietary or gluten issues in the past: Gwynneth Paltrow, Novak
Djokovic, Andy Murray and Miley Cyrus (see below).
But if you’ve
already clicked on the links I’ve included you may have
learned that all is not quite what it may seem. The product comes with a caveat. “Domino's
Pizza made with a Gluten Free Crust is prepared in a common kitchen with the
risk of gluten exposure,” they tell potential customers.
although in the video the CEO calls the product “our new Gluten Free Crust
Pizza”, he warns in a disclaimer that it is not suitable for coeliacs, due to
the possibility of cross contamination in a kitchen where ordinary
gluten-containing pizzas are handled.
Not everyone is
happy about this, and it’s not difficult to see why. Michelle, on her blog
left sighing in exasperation; it’s “minimising the seriousness of celiac
disease,” she says.
Like her, I am
left wondering who this pizza is actually for. Is it aimed at lifestyle gluten
avoiders, who think going gluten free is the way to better health and weight
loss? One can hardly dub most pizza a health food – and besides, most of the
calories come in the toppings, not on the base.
Is it for those
with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity – which experts are now beginning to recognise?
The problem with this is that we don’t yet know enough about the condition to
appreciate whether or not trace gluten is enough to cause problems in those
with NCGS, as it does in those with coeliac.
“It wouldn’t be
entirely honest to guarantee that this pizza is absolutely gluten free” we are
told in the video.
begs this question: what is Domino’s definition of both ‘gluten free’ and
‘absolutely gluten free’?
In Europe, ‘gluten free’ is now a protected term, and means
under 20 parts per million of gluten. This is an absolute definition – albeit
raised a few notches from the intuitive 0 parts per million that the ‘free’
would ordinarily imply.
The thing with
absolutes is that they are unqualifiable. You can’t have ‘very’, ‘quite’, ‘complete’
or ‘a bit of’ an absolute. You can’t be very dead, or quite pregnant, or a bit
unique. You’re either dead or alive, pregnant or not, unique or not.
is either ‘gluten free’ or it is not.
And so when expressions
like ‘absolutely gluten free’ are used – that is, adding an ‘absolutely’ to a
term which should be ‘absolute’ by definition, and therefore suggesting there
are degrees of gluten-freeness – it exposes the weakness of the American
labelling situation. Without a legal and protected definition for ‘gluten free’
like we have here, these sorts of situations can arise, and there is I think a
risk of confusion.
To some degree I
can see where they’re coming from, but my concerns remain that some coeliac
customers may risk it, despite the clarity of both Domino’s and NFCA in warning
against it. And the effect this may have on the perception the ordinary public
have of those at the more extreme end of the food sensitive spectrum is up for
debate too – not to mention the consequences for catering in general.
Overall, this is
an interesting development, because it seems to me that lifestyle gluten
avoiders are being targetted. What is essentially, in UK terms at least, being
offered is a ‘no gluten containing ingredients’ product, and I wonder whether
similar products will start being produced in the UK, both in catering and
on-shelf, targeting the ‘softer’ side of the ‘free from’ clientele. Such
products would be cheaper and easier to produce, I imagine, given strict
anti-contamination protocols will not be necessary. How would such foods be
received? Would they be stocked in Free From aisles? Would they be permitted in
the FreeFrom Food Awards
remain raised on this one, and it’s something worth keeping an eye on.
I’d say read the
disclaimer first before getting it and enjoying it, don’t you think?
Labels: gluten free, non coeliac gluten sensitivity