Domino's Pizza and Gluten Free Awareness - USA, Australia, New Zealand
Domino's in Australia and New Zealand
As many of us reading this would know, many major pizza chains have, over the last few years, started offering gluten free pizza crusts.
In Australia, there are five main takeaway pizza chains. Three of the main ones include Domino's Pizza, Eagle Boys Pizza and Pizza Hut along with two others specialising in gourmet pizza, Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar and Pizza Capers.
All of the five aforementioned chains offer gluten free pizza bases. Four out of the five chains have their gluten free pizza bases made in totally gluten free facility. Unfortunately, once the pizza bases are out of their packaging, the end product is always contaminated due to lack of care exercised in the kitchen.
Now available at Domino's
New Gluten Free "crust pizza" offering in the USA
It has now been (as of today) about 2 years and 6 months since Domino's Pizza in Australia started offering a gluten free base. Initially, in the Domino's Australia/New Zealand November 2009 press release regarding a new gluten free "pizza", there was no mention anywhere about cross-contamination. They made it very clear to the public that the product was suitable for coeliacs and for the first few months (as far as we know) all was good. Or was it???
There certainly was not a whole lot of press on the subject at the time. There were no videos that DominosAustralia had uploaded on YouTube regarding their gluten free offering (which seemed strange) and I honestly can't even recall it hitting the news. Clearly they must have been concerned.
I wrote in earlier on Domino's - Gluten Free Pizza - NOT!!!, talking about some of the concerns that I and others had faced back in 2010 when they added a disclaimer to their website regarding the gluten-freeness of their so called "gluten free pizzas". When this happened, I immediately knew that the company was exercising a false and misleading form of gluten free advertising that is illegal in Australia and New Zealand.
Recently, as of the 7th of May, Domino's Pizza in the USA started to do something similar, by offering a gluten free crust pizza. Unlike Domino's in Australia, they were very upfront about the cross-contamination situation. Patrick Doyle, the CEO of Domino's USA (unlike Don Meij, the CEO of Domino's Australia) states that if they weren't honest, they wouldn't be Domino's.
Well in Australia they weren't! And were they able to keep their name? OF COURSE!!!
Before Domino's in Australia and New Zealand began offering their gluten free base, they approached Coeliac Australia (formerly the Coeliac Society of Australia) and Coeliac New Zealand respectively (as shown below):
The Coeliac Society of Australia Endorsement Logo
Coeliac New Zealand Endorsement Logo
Domino's Gluten Free Pizza Base Suppliers - Australia and New Zealand
Coeliac Australia's Role
Coeliac Australia informed Domino's about cross-contamination risks and worked with them to develop a strategy so that their members could safely eat a Domino's Pizza on a gluten free base.
It should be emphasised however that (unlike Domino's Pizza in the USA) Domino's Australia and New Zealand is committed to making their range of pizzas on a gluten free base order safe for coeliacs. The staff at outlets are *supposed* to use clean utensils, cutters and change gloves though I know in many cases managers at certain outlets even here have refused to cooperate in this regard.
The gluten free base available at Domino's stores throughout New Zealand is made by Venerdi.
It also seems as if Domino's New Zealand operations are conducted at the head office in Brisbane, Australia which seems very odd. Might explain why the gluten free option was introduced in both countries at the same time.
A video of mine on Domino's False Gluten Free Advertising in Australia/NZ
Patrick Doyle, President and the gluten free crust pizza
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and their role
As for the gluten free base used at stores in the USA, I have no idea of who the supplier is. I would be very surprised if it was made by the company itself at a dedicated facility.
It also seems as if the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has endorsed the so-called "gluten free" product with what they describe as an "AMBER" designation. On a redio interview with Jules Gluten Free, Alice Bast (founder of the NFCA) stated that Domino's initially was not going to bother with a disclaimer. She said that they were just going to promote it as a "gluten free pizza" and that would be it. And unfortunately, as far as the current FDA regulations in the USA for gluten free labelling, Domino's would have been well within their right to mislead their customers and call it "gluten free" it in such a way.
Quoting the DISCLAIMER:
Domino's Pizza made with a Gluten Free Crust is prepared in a common kitchen with the risk of gluten exposure. The NFCA supports the availability of Domino's Gluten Free Crust, but CANNOT recommend the pizza for customers with celiac disease. Customers with gluten sensitivities should exercise judgment in consuming this pizza.
In the video on Domino's new gluten free crust pizza, the Domino's team states that "it wouldn't be entirely honest to guarantee the pizza is completely gluten free."
"And if we weren't honest, we wouldn't be Domino's," states Patrick Doyle.
I chuckled to myself when I hear Patrick Doyle say that "if we weren't honest, we wouldn't be Domino's". Especially after hearing that initially, he was just going to mislead customers by simply marketing it as gluten free (without a disclaimer) thus putting the lives of many, many individuals in danger!
The NFCA has what is known as a GREAT kitchens program. As shown in the video, they have developed training modules and two forms of restaurant endorsement that are designated to food service outlets that offer gluten free fare.
The green designation implies that restaurants utilise robust gluten-free protocols that will meet the needs of diners with both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
The amber designation implies ingredient verification and basic training of all wait staff and the managers meaning that those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should ask questions and exercise judgment.
Personally I feel like the NFCA needs to get rid of the Amber designation altogether. I think they should stick with the Green designation and leave it at that. All sorts of other companies that offer cross-contaminated gluten free food out there should be just as worthy for an Amber designation, if Domino's so rightly is doing this.
Hygiene at Domino's
Of course, some reading this hub may remember the "Dirty Dirty Domino's Pizza" incident back in 2009. If not, please view the video to my right (but beware you might never want to dine at Domino's again once you see what happened at this so-called "isolated incident"). There are other staff at places like this who are probably up to the same sorts of mischief all around the world!
Probably not quite as revolting as human mucus but certainly a lot more dangerous for coeliacs and those with gluten sensitivites is DELIBERATE GLUTEN CONTAMINATION. And I'm sure there are staff that are already thinking along those lines. DON'T BE ONE OF THESE!!!
If basic hygiene practices at Domino's are not being adhered to, such as in this "incident" above, then how on earth can we trust Domino's USA to be able to competently serve up a gluten free pizza that meets our needs.
Even Dr. Alessio Fasano said in a letter at the University of Maryland center for celiac research that ANYONE with gluten-related disorders should NOT consume the product marketed as gluten-free at Domino's. With the lack of an FDA definition of what gluten free means in the USA, businesses can jump on the gluten free bandwagon as they like, when they like without any consequence whatsoever!
Leave your views below, for I live in Australia and not the USA and thus have never tried the new "gluten free crust pizza" that has been so BOASTFULLY advertised (thus aimed at a niche target group of those on gluten free fad diets). I also feel it absolutely STINKS that the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is giving them ANY medal of recognition for their so-called *accomplishment*. People on gluten free fad diets need to GET REAL and wake up to the realities of what a gluten-free lifestyle actually means before they destroy all the hard work we've done in educating food service outlets and restaurants on how they can best meet our needs.