Domino’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s both announced the launch of gluten-free pizzas in May 2012. The timing of their decisions makes sense. May is Celiac Awareness Month, and if you’re going to make a splash in the gluten-free market during the year, it makes sense to take advantage of the additional publicity gained during the month.
Well, additional publicity may not be what Domino’s wanted here. Many in the gluten-free community are up in arms over Domino’s gluten-free pizza launch. Chuck E. Cheese’s on the other hand, has taken a more thoughtful approach to their launch. Hopefully it’s not too late for Domino’s to learn from their fellow pizza-making friends.
Domino’s “Almost” Gluten-Free Pizza
Domino’s, with their recent gluten-free pizza launch, makes the pizzas in the same kitchens and in the same ovens as their regular pizzas. They don’t hide that, and the CEO of Domino’s makes that point very clear in this video release of their gluten-free pizzas.
Thinking it would add to their credibility, Domino’s approached the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and obtained their new Amber Designation. When the NFCA gives an Amber Stamp, it means that it agrees that a kitchen is using gluten-free ingredients and is training its staff on the realities and dangers of cross contamination, but it does not recommend that restaurant for people with extreme gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Since the Domino’s launch, there has been uproar in the gluten-free community against both Domino’s and the NFCA. People are understandably upset with Domino’s for releasing an “almost” gluten-free pizza that really just teases many of us, and people are upset with the NFCA for endorsing anything that isn’t safe for celiacs (after all, they are the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness….). The Executive Director of the Gluten Intolerance Group wrote a scathing letter on the NFCA’s stance on Domino’s this that is currently circulating the web.
Chuck E. Cheese’s Gluten-Free Pizza
Chuck E. Cheese’s has taken an entirely different (and more well thought out) approach than Domino’s. As you can see in the video release of their gluten-free pizzas, they actually prepare the pizza in a dedicated gluten-free facility, then wrap it in a cooking bag and send the frozen pizzas to all of their restaurants. At the restaurant, the chef puts the pizza (still in its cooking bag) in the oven, bakes it, and serves it to the customer still in the bag! That means when you’re opening your gluten-free pizza at Chuck E. Cheese’s, it has not been opened since it was made in that dedicated gluten-free facility. Now that’s impressive!
Not only do they offer gluten-free pizzas that seem safe for celiacs to eat, but they also offer gluten-free cupcakes! This will come as a blessing to anyone who grew up gluten-free, or who has raised gluten-free kids and dealt with the disappointment and frustration that birthday parties can bring.
Now, it’s one thing to have a personal sized cheese pizza from Chuck E. Cheese’s, but if we could have truly gluten-free pizzas from Domino’s with any toppings we wanted delivered virtually anywhere?! That would be a dream come true. Until this all shakes out though, we might just have to keep waiting.
My Personal Thoughts: Sending Domino’s Gluten-Free Pizza to the Lab
Personally, I don’t know what to think here. I order gluten-free pizzas from Uno’s, Z-Pizza, and local places like Fireworks and Rustico. I also eat off the gluten-free menu at Outback and P.F. Changs and many, many other restaurants. As I’ve said before, finding new restaurants that offer gluten-free choices is one of the best parts about having celiac disease! Just last weekend, I was lucky enough to find a place in Manhattan that had gluten-free ravioli AND tortellini!
None of the restaurants I just mentioned have dedicated gluten-free kitchens. It is very rare that we order gluten-free items at restaurants that are 100% gluten-free. Why is Domino’s being treated any differently? Just because they’re being honest and giving us a disclaimer?
Well, I’ve decided to find out for myself what’s going on with Domino’s. In the next two weeks, we at CeliAct will be sending Domino’s gluten-free pizza to the same lab where we have our CeliAct tested for gluten. This test will be able to tell if there’s any gluten in the pizza down to a sensitivity of 3 parts per million. Stay tuned for the results!
What do you think about this? Is Domino’s being irresponsible here or are they just being more honest than other restaurants that offer gluten-free food?
Since publishing this article, we sent 3 Domino's gluten-free pizzas to the lab where we do gluten testing for CeliAct. The lab test results are extremely interesting, and you can click here to read more about them. There is quite the conversation going on below the article, so be sure to join in!