FALSE Gluten Free Pizzas from Fuel Pizza

FUEL Pizza Cafe

FUEL Business Logo
FUEL Business Logo | Source

Gluten Free Advertisment

Gluten Free Pizza?? AND BEER???? Whoa! Whopper!
Gluten Free Pizza?? AND BEER???? Whoa! Whopper! | Source

Servin' it up since 1998

I have recently been researching some businesses in various parts of the United States of America that offer gluten free fare for individuals like myself who are affected by celiac disease. One notable place near where I plan to travel in the next month is FUEL Pizza. Situated in three (3) states, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina; the chain offers quite some options but (most notably) "gluten free" pizza!

As with many businesses, Fuel Pizza has obviously taken some time to look at what consumers are after and (although one of the less major pizza chains/franchises) has come up with some great sustainability strategies as well as a variety of options to accommodate a variety of consumers.

So, curiously, I did a quick search of the site to see what may be in store for me. I looked at their their 'our story' and 'menu' pages and to see what was on offer. In doing this, however, I was all eyes to be ready to 'observe' any labelling irregularity that may be lurking behind the menu. Firstly, I observed the following:

GLUTEN-FREE PIZZA

FUEL now offers custom gluten-free pizzas. Check out all of the gluten-free options... and gluten-free beer too!

My initial reaction was quite beyond the norm (in quite a positive light as well). I then perused the site further to 'dig in a little deeper'.

Alas, back to the norm. A cross-contamination notice.

"FUEL Pizza has prepared this suggested list of menu options based on the most up-to-date ingredient information from our food suppliers and their stated absence of gluten/wheat gluten protein within these items. Please be aware that during normal kitchen operations, the possibility exists for food items to come into contact with wheat/gluten proteins. However unlikely, we are unable to guarantee that any many item can be prepared or are wheat/gluten free."

Pictured Disclaimer

Labeled "GLUTEN FREE" Product MAY CONTAIN GLUTEN
Labeled "GLUTEN FREE" Product MAY CONTAIN GLUTEN | Source

Response to Pictured Disclaimer

At first sight, I could not speak. I could neither see nor think a word of it. To be honest, I was absolutely petrified about EVER entering this venue should end up near one of these locations and will be avoiding this destination at every cost!

It is MISLEADING to advertise a product as 'gluten free' if it may have come into contact with gluten. In terms of the proposed FDA regulations, a product cannot be labelled as 'GLUTEN FREE' the following is met:

FDA proposes to define the term "gluten-free" to mean that a food bearing this claim in its labeling does not contain any one of the following:

  • An ingredient that is a prohibited grain
  • An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  • An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has been processed to remove gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food or
  • 20 ppm or more gluten

Have they not a clue of the implications of celiac disease and gluten consumption? Those on a gluten free diet, especially celiacs (the bulk of the gluten-avoiding market), must avoid ALL gluten.

Leave your comments below and bring your opinions across. To be honest, this destination is clearly 'one to avoid' for ANY celiac out there and I think it absolutely STINKS that this food organisation is simply working like a 'money-factory' and exploiting celiacs to the world like they're simply a NICHE Target Group!

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Comments 14 comments

Emma R. 5 years ago

Kelly, I have followed some of your comments over recent months. I have noted that you go out of your way to find things wrong with businesses who are trying hard to offer gluten-free alternatives for celiacs. It is becoming apparent to me that you do not understand that businesses put in a disclaimer for legal reasons. The disclaimers are there as a precautionary measure so that businesses don't get sued. That does NOT mean that there is gluten in the foods that they serve as gluten-free. They have to protect themselves from customers that go to restaurants in the view to looking for something they can sue for. If someone throws up like a pig the day after eating out does not have to have anything to do with gluten, it could just as easily be because of over eating and/or drinking. But if a restaurant has served someone who is a celiac a gluten-free meal it's likely that that person blames the gluten and sues the restaurant. Before you continue your 'career' at giving reputable businesses a bad name and making other gluten-intolerant people feel paranoid about eating out, I suggest you talk to a lawyer who can explain to you once and for all about 'disclaimers as a precautionary measure'.

Best regards,

Emma R.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Emma R., In that case they should not be using the 'gluten free' term then if they need to use the disclaimer. The ACCC here in Australia agrees that it is misleading advertising (no matter what) to label a food as gluten free but present it with a disclaimer.


Emma R. 5 years ago

You claim: The ACCC here in Australia agrees that it is misleading advertising (no matter what) to label a food as gluten free but present it with a disclaimer.

Please prove this before you tangle yourself in to a bigger mess trying to convince yourself and others that your ill educated 'advice' and claims on your pages are the truth. Just because you've found a soap box to shout from does not mean you're right, and I hope that people who read your blog understand that and don't take everything you write as the one and only truth.


Nancy 5 years ago

I agree with the comment above on the legal disclaimer subject. You can guarantee less than 20 ppm of gluten and still put a legal disclaimer that it may not contain 0 ppm. You can't even guarantee no gluten at all(0 ppm) if you make it yourself at home in a totally gluten free kitchen because the ingredients may contain a trace. If I had a restaurant that fed gluten free people, I would certainly do my best to keep those folks safe and healthy, but you better believe I would put a disclaimer, too.

There are actual restaurants falsely advertising the gluten free status of their foods, but a disclaimer is not evidence of false advertising. Hope you can find some of those actually committing fraud. Thanks for your work.


Nikki 5 years ago

I am the lead coordinator of the Charlotte Gluten/Allergen Free Expo and the Charlotte Chapter of R.O.C.K.(Raising Our Celiac Kids). Our community of celiac and gluten free diners frequent Fuel Pizza on a regular basis since they let us host our meetings there once a month. Not only do they allow us to host our meetings there, but they also have donated 10% of all sales during our meetings to the CFCR. They were at the Charlotte GF/AF Expo and served 86 GF pizzas to our attendees - Not one person I know of has ever complained of any reactions after eating at ANY of the Fuel Pizza locations. They take extreme care in making their pizzas and do so in a separate area. One time I took my family there on a Friday night and was concerned because of how busy they were. They not only made our pizza as usual and safely, but also changed their gloves and opened a new pack of boxes and plates so we got no contamination from anyone touching them before we did.

I think it is very misleading to read only disclaimers and make decisions based on such. In order to continue moving forward with options we cannot cut them off at the knees without prior true experience in their facilities. Very disappointed in the tone this post takes.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for your recount Nikki. Sounds like they do indeed take a lot of care in preparing your pizzas. Certainly a little different to what I normally experience, anyhow. I just wish they wouldn't use the disclaimer. If they're thorough in following their procedures, they should not need to use a disclaimer. Simple.


Nikki 5 years ago

Perhaps in Australia you do not have people ready to sue at the drop of the hat - That is not the case here in America. I remember reading one time that someone sued McDonald's for their hot coffee spilling and burning them at the drive thru window which seems ludicrous to me but it happened. Most restaurants here that do not offer a dedicated GF kitchen place disclaimers on their menus. It is standard. The FDA has not even made desicions here based on actual testing so they are no help. However, Fuel has been extremely diligent in learning and training their staff. If you are looking for GF menus from restaurants that are completely GF, they are few and far between. However, you should check out Posana Cafe in Asheville, N.C. as their whole restaurant is GF.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks for the tip. I shall look into (and possibly review) them for sure!


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

I think the world has come on so much in the 50 years i have been a ceoliac. I believe that to have no gluten is impossible- cross contamination will happen, even at home, unless the whole family, pets included goes gluten free ( my tabby may be celiac- getting gluten free pet food is not easy)

I would not like to deter any restaurant from doing its best to be gluten free and yes cross contamination can be an issue however, most kitchens would clean surfaces between orders anyway. I have seen ridiculous claims by some people- for example in the UK we have sizzlers restaurants- people complain the chips ( fries) are not gluten free- my daughter works there, she checked the chips ( not treated and gluten free) the oil - corn so gluten free, the fryer used only for chips so not cross contaminated and still people complain- i mean we have to applaud efforts to help us lead our lives in somewhat an ordinary manner.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Yes, that's certainly true. Just a shame they have to use the disclaimer, though.


FUEL Pizza 5 years ago

FUEL Pizza is dedicated to making ALL of our pizzas in the safest, most sanitary way possible. While we are not a gluten-free facility, we have a specific sanitary procedure for our gluten-free products. We take our gluten-free sanitizing procedure very seriously, and have been extremely diligent in training our staff.

The ingredients that go into our gluten-free pizzas, are in fact, gluten-free by industry standards. The gluten-free dough we use (Smart Flour) is made in a completely gluten-free facility, and is shipped to FUEL Pizza. As we are a pizzeria, flour is always in the air, and therefore the possibility of contamination is always possible. Our disclaimer is intended to remind patrons that we are not a gluten-free facility. The disclaimer is not intended to in any way diminish FUEL Pizza’s responsibility to its gluten-intolerant and Celiac patrons.

We invite the Charlotte Celiac Connection Group to meet at FUEL Pizza for their monthly meetings. Not once have we received a complaint or dealt with a gluten-contamination issue.

While the FDA has made proposed regulations on gluten-free labeling, these regulations are not yet finalized.

We are proud to offer these gluten-free options to our patrons. FUEL Pizza is happy to discuss our gluten-free sanitation procedure with anyone who is interested.


Jessica P. 5 years ago

Kelly, it is a shame that restaurants have to use disclaimers, but unfortunately it is because of blog posts like yours that they have to. You are only making the problem worse with your attacks. Without the disclaimer, someone could come in, order a gluten-free pizza, and claim to have a reaction to it and sue the restaurant (yes, people do things like that in our world today.)

If a restaurant does not use a disclaimer, that suggests to me that they are not aware that they cannot guarantee 0 ppm gluten in their food and that they may not be aware of issues regarding cross-contamination, and that it might not be safe for me to eat there. Please stop attacking restaurants that are trying to make safe and enjoyable food for us. I know many people have asked you to stop doing this already, but I guess all we can do is keep asking and hope that eventually you'll understand the harm you're doing. You really are setting back a lot the work that people have been doing in regards to celiac disease awareness.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Jessica P., thank you for your concerns. I take responsibility for my condition every time I eat out or go somewhere away from home. My posts, however are not about any of that.

Under the proposed FDA ruling over Gluten Free labeling, You can't claim something as Gluten Free, if it contains more than 20ppm gluten. It doesn’t matter that Fuel or any other business is ‘making life safer or more enjoyable’ and that we need to be taking responsibility. You CANNOT claim Gluten Free status if there is gluten. FULL STOP.

If they choose to add a disclaimer, they are basically saying that they are breaking this law.


Neva 4 years ago

Drop it with the disclaimer argument. It is a completely standard practice, and absolves the restaurant from legal suit if something beyond their control happens. That could be as simple as your dining partner cross-contaminating your plate with a stray crumb or the like. Dining out is never 100% safe for celiacs, except for maybe the strictly GF restaurants. The restaurants that make the effort to acknowledge celiac diners, and take the costly and logistically-difficult steps to providing safe food should be rewarded with support from the celiac community- not attacked with (very uneducated) slander. They are simply protecting themselves from the possibility of losing their business in a law suit- from folks like yourself.

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