Alice explains why NFCA is passionate about making the gluten-free community aware of potential risks to their health.
I just returned from the National Restaurant Association Show, where we surveyed chefs, foodservice managers and restaurateurs from across the country. We were shocked to find that 97% of those surveyed – many of whom were already offering gluten-free options – could not answer four basic questions about gluten. More than 50% couldn’t even name all three prohibited grains.
Now, you can see why the NFCA is passionate about restaurant training, and about making the gluten-free community aware of restaurant practices that may put their health at risk.
On Monday, May 7, 2012, Domino’s launched Gluten Free Crust in its stores nationwide. Domino’s partnered with NFCA and invited us to play a role in ensuring the safety of those with these gluten-related disorders. As a patient advocacy group, we felt it was our obligation to do so.
NFCA consulted with Domino’s on this launch and after reviewing operational procedures, we decided that we could not recommend this product for those with celiac disease. We urge those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity to exercise judgment in deciding whether to order this pizza.
Domino’s partnered with NFCA because they wanted input from gluten-free experts. Instead of launching a gluten-free product independently, they actively sought out the NFCA and its GREAT Kitchens program to understand the safest, most transparent way to go to market.
NFCA helped Domino’s realize that the handcrafted nature of their pizzas and current store operations cannot guarantee a gluten-free pizza free of cross-contamination. While Domino’s initially hoped to market the Gluten Free Crust pizza to celiac customers, NFCA informed them that this was too great a risk to the health of the community.
Since Domino’s cannot guarantee a pizza free of cross-contamination, NFCA worked with Domino’s to ensure that a disclaimer would be clear and visible to all consumers. In fact, the disclaimer pops up when you select Gluten Free Crust from their online ordering system. Domino’s staff has also been trained to read the disclaimer to all customers who request a Gluten Free Crust over the phone. The disclaimer specifically states, unequivocally, that the pizza is not recommended for people with celiac disease.
In addition to these procedures, Domino’s verified its ingredients (toppings that must be avoided are listed in the Customer FAQs), trained staff and instituted communications methods to ensure customers with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are protected. For those efforts, Domino’s earned NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens – Amber Designation.
For restaurants that implement strict cross-contamination controls in addition to using gluten-free ingredients and completing extensive training, NFCA offers the GREAT Kitchens – Green Designation, which indicates that the restaurant can accommodate those with celiac disease.
The safety of our community is our number one priority. NFCA played an important role in making Domino’s aware of the risks associated with cross-contamination. We also helped Domino’s develop training methods and communications tools so that customers are able to make an informed decision based on their individual needs – that’s what our Amber Designation is all about.
In addition, we would like to clarify a few areas of confusion regarding this announcement:
As the “gluten-free” movement continues to scale at restaurants across the country, more often without any training or proper consumer education, our hope is that this announcement brings to light the attention that must be given to protecting the health of those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
In Great Health,