Domino’s Gluten-Free Pizza

You may have heard the big news that Domino’s now offers a 10 inch gluten-free pizza crust.  But don’t get your hopes up.  It comes with a disclaimer.  I want to say upfront that I will not be eating this pizza, and I do not recommend that you eat it.

The Disclaimers

The Domino’s press release states,

“While Domino’s new Gluten Free Crust is appropriate for those with mild gluten sensitivity, Domino’s and the NFCA do not recommend it for those with celiac disease. Domino’s and the NFCA found that while the crust is certified as gluten free, current store operations at Domino’s cannot guarantee that each handcrafted pizza will be completely free from gluten.”

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has given Domino’s its GREAT Kitchens amber designation.  But NFCA states,

“Please be advised all of Domino’s menu items, including pizza made with Gluten Free Crust, are prepared in a common kitchen. While the Gluten Free Crust contains no gluten ingredients, there is a risk of gluten exposure. NFCA supports the availability of Gluten Free Crust at Domino’s, but CANNOT recommend the pizza for customers with celiac disease. Customers with gluten-related disorders other than celiac disease should exercise their own judgment in consuming pizza made with Gluten Free Crust. “

According to NFCA’s FAQ page (this is just a small part of the information on that page and I encourage you to click over and read more):

  • The Gluten Free Crust is stored in a separate area of the walk-in cooler until it is ordered.
  • The Gluten Free Crust pizza is made on the same pizza screen and uses the same makeline, ingredients, and utensils as all other pizzas.
  • Employees use the same pizza peel and pizza cutter on the Gluten Free Crust pizza as all other pizzas.
  • There is no airborne flour in the store.

Who Can Eat It?

According to Domino’s, the pizza is safe for people with a mild gluten sensitivity.  To me that sounds like it is geared towards people who have gone gluten-free as a fad diet.

I’m not surprised that a place like Domino’s would jump on the fad bandwagon, but I’m disappointed that they don’t have more regard for those of us who need to eat gluten free for medical and health reasons.

Man Eating PizzaThis is not Dominos pizza – photo source

The non-celiac gluten sensitive people I know are not mildly sensitive.  They are very sensitive, and those who think their sensitivity is mild are probably not facing the truth.

The pizza crust contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten (a level that many people react to), but the pizza itself is likely to have more than that after being prepared in a Domino’s kitchen where everything is shared.

That’s why the company is clear that this pizza is not safe for people with celiac disease.  My opinion is that it’s almost certainly not safe for anyone who eats gluten-free for medical or health reasons.

Organizations Weighing In

Dr. Fasano and the Center for Celiac Research  released a statement on Domino’s pizza. It includes the following,

“As an international celiac research center with expertise in gluten-related disorders, we believe that individuals who have been diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder should NOT consume this product.”

The Gluten Intolerance Group also issued an official position on the pizza.  It includes this statement,

“Food services should approach gluten free meal options the same way they handle allergens. There is only one option – food that is safe for all persons living gluten free, no matter why they are living gluten free.”

NFCA’s Amber Designation

Amber DesignationI am grateful for organizations such as NFCA, but I think this was a mistake.

Considering that the “C” in their acronym stands for “Celiac” I was totally miffed at the fact that they would give their amber designation to Domino’s and then state that it’s not safe for celiacs. I believe this move has the potential to confuse and endanger those with celiac disease.

I understand that NFCA desires to help the gluten-free community and not simply those with celiac disease, but I don’t see how this helps the community.  I think that gluten sensitivity needs to be taken more seriously.  And there is also the fact that there are people who went gluten free without being tested for celiac or whose tests were not done properly.  Those people fall under the gluten sensitive category but could very well have celiac disease.

Yesterday, NFCA published another statement regarding their GREAT Kitchens designations.  While their green designation might have some value, I have come to believe that the amber designation means nothing.  They helped Domino’s see that they needed a disclaimer, but nothing is being done to reduce the risk of cross contamination.

I understand that Domino’s was going to release the gluten-free crust anyway, and NFCA was trying to help by getting Domino’s to let people know that the finished pizza is not gluten free because of cross contamination.  I think it would have been better if they had advised Domino’s but not given the restaurant any kind of designation, because some people will see NFCA and think that it’s safe.

I think a designation should mean something for the consumer and indicate some level of effort a restaurant has taken to prevent cross contamination, not just that the company issues a disclaimer.

Questions for NFCA

Tonight (Thursday) at 7:00 pm eastern time, Alice Bast, director of NFCA will be the guest on Gluten Free Voice Radio Show with Jules Gluten Free.  Please submit any questions you have to Jules.  Update:  You can now listen to the interview on Gluten Free Voice.

Take Responsibility

Your health is your responsibility.  You are responsible to educate yourself and make informed decisions.  For example, you should know that if you have celiac disease, you should not be basing what you can and cannot eat on your symptoms.  Some people with celiac have no obvious outward symptoms, yet autoimmune reactions are happening when gluten is consumed.

I will be taking responsibility for my health by not eating the Domino’s gluten-free pizza.  Not simply because the disclaimer says I shouldn’t, but because I have read the information and decided for myself that that the risk of cross contamination is great and the crust itself may even have a higher level of gluten that I consider safe.

What Do You Think?

Well, that’s my opinion on the matter.   What do you think?

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  1. Bonnie says

    Very sad. I was excited when i first heard the news about Dominos and gluten free pizzas but after ready many posts and the disclaimer i feel like its a sick joke

  2. says

    What a disappointment! I was so excited to read your headline, and then to see the details, it’s just ridiculous. I wonder why Domino’s is bothering to spend the money if they’re not going to do it right. How frustrating.

  3. says

    Linda, this is an excellent post. I have yet to post anything on this topic, but I’ve already shared my “displeasure” with this move with the NFCA. I agree with you – the amber designation means nothing (and in my mind, is harmful to the term “gluten-free”, as is this pizza!). I definitely won’t be partaking!

  4. Rachel says

    When I first heard about Domino’s “gluten free but not for celiacs” pizza, I laughed because the idea is ridiculous. But I really find it scary. It’s a dangerous precident to set, calling items gluten free that are not truly gluten free. And as a gluten free consumer with celiac disease, I think it will make research and purchasing decisions more difficult. Isn’t it hard enough for us, without a supposed gluten free watchdog company endorsing food that isn’t truly gluten free?

  5. says

    Great post! Thanks for spreading the word. I am very disappointed with NFCA. They are making things harder on those of us who have been saying for the last 20 years to family and friends, “no, I can’t have any gluten”.

  6. says

    Excellent post. I’m gearing up for the pressure from well meaning friends and family who will want to get Domino’s. Sigh.

    On the upside, most of us have learned to make some pretty awesome gf pizza on our own so we don’t need to feel like we’re missing out. =D

  7. says

    Linda, thanks for posting this. Domino’s isn’t in my area, but it’s good to know without showing up there hungry that their segregation is non-existant.

    So frustrating… I think we’ve probably all had conversations where restauranteurs or friends didn’t understand the concept of contamination, but you’d hope for better from certifiers.

  8. says

    I agree with you completely and have been saddened by the comments of too many people on Facebook who are confused by the disclaimer and excited about eating the pizza or saying they have already had it because they have a ‘mild case of celiac.’ I am most disappointed that the NFCA has caused this kind of confusion and have continued to stand by the decision this week. Your point about how many have been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed because the testing and the medical community’s lack of knowledge about testing is also key to this. They may fall into the sensitive category, but many probably do have celiac. Finally there is my feeling that no one knows really what the non-celiac gluten sensitive diagnosis means in terms of how much gluten they can be exposed to–if any or what is actually happening to their bodies or if damage is occurring somewhere besides the small intestines. The whole thing is just so disappointing and filled with misleading, confusing and even scientifically unproven advice.

  9. rachel says

    Thanks for writing this article. I’m quite frustrated with Domino’s and even more so with NFCA. Reminds me of an ignorant GI doctor who told me that I have “mild Celiac Disease.” BS! You either have it or you don’t! I certainly won’t be eating any of their “gluten-free” pizza.

  10. Rita says

    I WILL be eating one of Domino’s new pizza’s and I am happy, no ecstatic, that they are offering this option. I am gluten intolerant not celiac so I don’t expect to have any issues. I have read the disclaimer and I am FINE with the offering and the disclaimer.

    To those that aren’t fine with what Domino’s offers I encourage them to understand that everyone has different medical issues and different levels of sensitivity. You are free to offer whatever you like in your own nationwide pizza chain but seriously to dis this and dis folks who can tolerate the offering is just not something I can support.

  11. Courtney says

    I agree with your statements, about not eating it, because the truth of the matter is that it is not safe. BUT I disagree with your dissappointment in the NFCA for giving them a designation. The NFCA clearly states what that specific label means, and I wouldn’t ever look at that label and think that it was okay for a person with celiacs to eat there unless they have done extra research. Maybe the NFCA should have a third level…so there is a middle ground. I think it’s a great thing that gluten may be a fad right now, at least it can bring the issue to the minds of our culture…it brings the topic up. It’s a chance for someone who has no idea of what celiac disease is to learn that gluten free isn’t all that matters…preparation matters too. It’s a chance for a chain like Domino’s to take a step in the right direction and work with an amazing foundatation like the NFCA to in the future bulid new restaurants that have two kitchens, and train their staff to properly cook the food. You can’t go from point A to point Z without taking the first baby step. With that all said, I will be very sad to see this be Domino’s only attempt…I hope that they make further progress and I hope that other restaurant chains will follow.

    • Courtney says

      And I should have added, that I do think your post was VERY well written to show how you feel on this subject, and you are completely right in your thinking…I just wanted to present another way of looking at it. :)

  12. says

    Linda, you’ve done an outstanding job on this post! Thank you so much on all the points you’ve made. Honestly, I felt like I’ve taken a huge sucker punch this week and that our cause has been greatly set back. It turns my gut to see all the folks who are gluten free rushing to eat this pizza despite the warnings (pun intended, although not all have that reaction, or any noticeable reaction as you well know), and I’ve actually already read about people getting glutened from it. It seriously disturbs me to hear that anyone is willing to eat this pizza despite the warnings from GIG, Center for Celiac Research, and others. These organizations are not just saying that it’s unsafe for those with celiac. They are saying that this pizza should not be consumed by anyone who is gluten free.

    Thanks again, Linda!

  13. Kesha Jones says

    I don’t understand. I am gluten intolerant and I don’t have a special preparing area nor do I have different cooking utensils. “Gluten Free Crust pizza is made on the same pizza screen and uses the same makeline, ingredients, and utensils as all other pizzas.” I do this in my house. Why is this such a problem? We share the toaster with my kids who do not eat gluten free. I haven’t been tested but every time I eat gluten, I end up sick for 3 days. I am going to try this pizza and will let you know.

    • says

      Kesha, just because you don’t have obvious reactions to cross contamination does not mean that it’s not having an effect on your body. Since you weren’t tested, you could have celiac disease and consuming small amounts could be causing intestinal damage and other autoimmune reactions. Even for gluten sensitive people, if your body is sensitive to gluten, then no amount of gluten is good for it.

  14. Vicki says

    DO NOT TRY IT!!! I was so excited to learn about Domino’s GF crust pizza because I miss pizza so much. I am gluten intolerant. I tried it tonight & had a horrible gluten reaction. So much for the idea that the pizza is safe whatsoever! Please…DO NOT try it!

  15. says

    Linda, that is a wonderful and concise analysis of the inconsistencies of the Amber designation and the disclaimers it requires. Uncertainty and mis-communcation are the breeding ground for cross-contamination. For those with celiac disease, “Do or do not – there is no try”.

    Our AllerTrain program for restaurants teaches that 20 parts per million can trigger a reaction in CD-afflicted diners. That’s like one drop of food coloring in a gallon of water, or maybe a smudge of flour on a pizza. Accredited training from Kitchens With Confidence leads the entire restaurant staff to deliver a safe dining experience.

  16. ajnemajrje says

    Surely from the amount each pizza costs and the amount of people coming in to eat every day, they can afford to buy a second pizza cutter for the gluten free pizzas.

  17. Sue James says

    I am gluten free by choice and my hubby has celiac disease. We had Domino’s gluten free pizza today and both of us thought it was very tasty, also hubby had no reaction at all to the pizza crust. When eating out if he unknowingly eats any gluten he becomes sick quite quickly.

  18. Jeanne says

    Nope—-won’t be eating the Domino’s ‘GF’ pizza. If it’s made on shared equipment in a kitchen with flour flying around, it’s not GF, sorry. I’m really lucky—I have a family restaurant in town that makes GF pizza, taking all necessary precautions. I’m very sensitive and have never gotten sick there, either eating in the restaurant or take-out. My family gets regular pizza, I get my GF one. Yay. We also make pizza at home. I really like Gluten Free Pantry’s pizza dough mix for mine.

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