Issue 03 • June 2012

Hidden sources of Gluten: The Domino effect

Last month, Domino’s Pizza announced they were going to offer gluten-free pizza.  This announcement has caused an uproar in the gluten-free community because the pizza will not be safe for those with severe gluten sensitivities or Celiac Disease. Why? Because the restaurant is going to use gluten-free crust without taking any of the precautions to make it safe for people on a gluten-free diet.  Executive Director Cynthia Kummper, RD, for the Gluten Intolerance Group, a group governing gluten-free experts on dining out gluten-free, recently expressed its disapproval with Domino’s new effort: “While GIG appreciates Domino’s desire to offer a gluten free pizza, we do not feel the effort put forth demonstrates a true commitment toward making a safe environment for producing gluten free food.” While the thought of contributing to the gluten-free community is appreciated, Domino’s must take further steps to avoid cross-contamination, in order to truly cater to the people who can’t eat gluten. Otherwise, they will lose a majority of their gluten-free lifestyle consumers.

What is Considered a “Safe Environment for Producing Gluten-Free Food”?

A safe environment is one where cross contamination of gluten-containing ingredients does not come in contact with gluten-free foods.  Here are some examples:

* Pizza made in a designated area with designated ingredients and staff change gloves and/or attire prior to entering this area.

* Salads are mixed in clean bowls free of crouton or dressing residue. It is never good to use a mixing bowl has been used to mix a salad with croutons in it.

* Mexican restaurants use designated serving utensils versus putting their hands in the cheese and lettuce and they change out their gloves prior to making a gluten-free dish

Hidden Sources of Gluten

It is always important to notify the restaurant of your allergies before placing your order.  What seems innocent may have hidden gluten.

For example, I love Chipotle.  It is one of my favorite places to eat and feel safe.  Their servers change out their gloves every time I ask and I only ask for ingredients where there is a spoon.  Beware, the servers use their hands to grab the cheese and lettuce and often times these hands have been handling tortillas.  Items with a spoon are the safest options.

Salt Life’s most popular dish is the poke bowl.  However rice in the poke bowl contains vinegar that has been fortified with wheat making the dish unsafe for those of us with gluten-intolerance or celiac disease.  They are very educated on the subject and know that this is not a safe dish for us. Make sure to talk to your server about your needs prior to ordering.  Salt Life’s chef is very knowledgeable and the restaurant offers a gluten-free menu.

Shredded cheese is another culprit.  Most shredded cheese contains flour to keep the pieces from sticking together.  Instead, buy block cheese and grade it yourself. This will also save you some money.

The most important thing to remember is to talk to your server about any and all allergies every time you go out to eat.  Many restaurants take extra precautions to avoid cross contamination. For instance, PF Changs enters all of your food allergies into a computer and can print out a special menu, if your allergies go beyond gluten. They also use designated plates and dishes for their gluten-free meals.

Remember: you are not a burden if you ask questions.  If the restaurant makes you feel uncomfortable, do not hesitate to go somewhere else where you feel safe.

For more great gluten-free information, visit

Article by Jennifer Gornto.



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