Great Australian Ice Creamery? Not So Great for Coeliacs!!!
False 'Gluten Free' Ice Cream advertising
Recently in my travels, I came across this nice Ice Cream shop (which is apparently a chain) known as the Great Australian Ice Creamery. Curiously I wandered in to see what was on offer. Of course, being Coeliac, my choices are somewhat more limited. I usually have to ask about which ice creams are gluten free and ask for a separate ice cream scoop to be used to scoop my ice cream selections from different containers. As soon as I walked in, however, I saw a notice on one of the windows. They quote: "over 90 percent of our ice creams are gluten free, so come and experience the huge range of delicious treats at The Great Australian Ice Creamery." I was excited to see an ice cream outlet stressing so outrightly that most of their ice creams were gluten free. It was pleasing to see that society seems to be aware of our gluten free needs. I went inside to have a look at their ice creams. Many were labelled as "GLUTEN FREE". I began to order a couple of different scoops of ice cream.
Unfortunately, though, they used exactly the same scoop as that used for scooping all their other ice creams. The server told me that due to cross-contamination, none of their ice creams could be guaranteed 100% gluten free. I was also advised that some of their ice creams labelled gluten free were out of date and had gluten in them (some of the stickers on the glass panel appeared to be old and worn).
What the Great Australian Ice Creamery is doing is ILLEGAL! The information they are providing to patrons is misleading and incorrect. Had I not checked with the server, I could have 'glutened' myself badly due to having consumed a product labelled gluten free that contained gluten. They did not quote any other allergens on their labels. All it said was (eg):
As can be seen, having read the above, this is false marketing. They are trying to exploit this 'niche' market probably to raise their income. No other effort was put into this gluten free 'thing' other than shoving a big "GLUTEN FREE" statement onto their ice cream flavour stickers and making it WELL KNOWN to the public. Individuals with Coeliac Disease don't seem to be respected like they should, these days, and it disappoints me that businesses care about only making one thing count for them: MONEY!!
And to the Great Australian Ice Creamery, all I can say is: "GET RID OF THOSE GLUTEN FREE LABELS BEFORE YOU BECOME LIABLE FOR FALSE ADVERTISING! You will eventually regret this sort of marketing if you don't refrain from posing your gluten free message to the public. Either that, or use separate scoops (spade-style works well!) in every single ice cream dish to prevent cross-contamination, as this is such an issue at this day in society. Just because you may not have heard of one experiencing any noticeable signs of discomfort, be aware that people with Coeliac Disease may be damaging themselves in the long term without noticing any symptoms in the meantime. Don't increase consumer confidence if it can't be done PROPERLY!"
I do feel for my fellow coeliac consumers who have to face this exploitation and make a choice they sometimes don't want to. While some non-coeliac gluten intolerant individuals will be fine with small amounts of gluten, individuals with coeliac disease must keep gluten away from their diet at all costs to reduce the risk of many associated conditions as they grow older. This is what needs to be realized by our foodservice industry as a food item cannot legally be labelled as "GLUTEN FREE" unless the product is 100% guaranteed, gluten free.
[EDITED TO ADD 17/Oct/2010 - It has recently come to my attention that the statement on the GAIC Menu Page has recently been altered to describe the ice creams as "gluten friendly", INSTEAD OF gluten free *snort*.]
[EDITED TO ADD 12/Feb/2011 - The 'GLUTEN FRIENDLY' term is ILLEGAL to use in Australia. It does not fit the FSANZ Standard 1.2.8 Code!]
[EDITED TO ADD 3/Mar/2011 - All 'gluten' terms have been eliminated from the GAIC Menu Page. They no longer claim their ice creams on their website as 'gluten free' OR 'gluten friendly'. It is great to see that this business has addressed the concerns highlighted in this post.]