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Domino's Introduces (Sort of) Gluten-Free Crust

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Tue, May 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM

click to enlarge Domino's new "gluten-free" crust - DOMINO'S
  • Domino's
  • Domino's new "gluten-free" crust
Domino's is proud to be the first national pizza delivery chain to introduce a gluten-free pizza crust for their "choice consumers." There's just one little hitch: They can't guarantee the pizza is actually gluten-free. So it's not recommended for those with celiac disease, but rather, only for those with "mild gluten sensitivity," Domino's said in a statement.

We're not sure what interest frat boys and stoners would have in a gluten-free crust anyway. It comes with the appetizing slogan: "Finally a gluten-free crust that doesn't taste like the box it comes in." (Apparently "doesn't taste like cardboard" was already taken.) The crust, made of water, rice starch, rice powder, potato starch and olive oil, will be offered in nearly all of Domino's 5,000 U.S. operations.

The pizza costs $12, about $3 more than the gluten-filled option (just lost the frat boy/stoner market). One slice of a 10-inch pepperoni pizza has 170 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat and 410 milligrams of sodium.

Domino's partnered with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to make sure its gluten-free pizza met the criteria for the foundation's "GREAT (Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness Training) Kitchens Amber Designation," according to CBS News.

The "Amber" rating means the ingredients have been verified and managers and staff have been trained on the basics, but kitchen practices may vary, so "those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should ask questions and exercise judgment when dining at an establishment with an Amber Designation," according to the foundation.

"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 company's news release said. (In other words, there are gluten products -- such as wheat flour -- all over the counters and ovens in Domino's kitchens, which can easily contaminate the gluten-free crusts. Those with celiac disease cannot tolerate the slightest amount of gluten.) In an informative video, the company adds this "important disclaimer": "Customers with gluten sensitivities should exercise judgment in consuming this pizza."

Celiac disease is a digestive condition that causes the immune system to react to gluten (a protein found in wheat and some other grains), causing damage to the small intestines, preventing absorption of essential nutrients and creating unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. People with celiac "sensitivity" test negative for celiac disease but experience similar though less severe symptoms. (Although in many cases, gluten is not the cause of their symptoms -- but "gluten sensitivity" seems to be the disease du jour, with 18 million Americans claiming the designation.)

The cynics among us might consider a "gluten-free" crust that's not really gluten-free the marketing gimmick du jour. In other words, the emperor is wearing new clothes while gorging on gluten-free pizza.


Follow Samantha Bonar @samanthabonar.

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