As we mentioned on the CeliAct Blog a few weeks ago, we were just as interested in the Domino’s gluten-free pizza controversy as the rest of you. For anyone who follows a gluten-free diet, a gluten-free product launch from an establishment like Domino’s is extremely exciting.
… at least for the first 15 seconds.
For many celiacs, this excitement quickly turned to disappointment as the disclaimers and warnings were made painfully clear. Domino’s new gluten-free pizza is made with gluten-free ingredients. But, it is NOT made in a gluten-free kitchen, so cross-contamination can’t be ruled out. Domino’s was very transparent about this risk.
The gluten-free community was up in arms. At CeliAct, we were curious.
So, we decided to use the nationally acclaimed laboratory that we use to test CeliAct for gluten. This time, we would test Domino’s gluten-free pizza.
Well, the results just came in and they are very, very interesting…
The Domino’s Gluten-Free Lab Test
Since we sell supplements specifically for people with celiac disease, making sure that our supplements are gluten-free is the most important step we take in producing CeliAct. For that reason, we use a lab that tests down to a sensitivity of 3 parts per million (ppm). To put that into context, the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) tests down to a sensitivity of 10 ppm. World leading celiac experts, including Dr. Fasano, have suggested that the FDA use a threshold of 20 ppm to conclude that a food is gluten-free or not.
We decided that one pizza was not enough. To get more representative results, we tested Domino’s gluten-free pizzas from 3 different cities across the United States. Pizzas from New Orleans, Boston and Washington, DC were used for the test.
Once at the lab, each pizza was homogenized (think high-grade food processor) to ensure that the whole pizza was tested, and not just any small piece.
The Results of the Domino’s Gluten-Free Lab Test
- New Orleans: Undetectable (less than 3 ppm)
- Boston: Undetectable (less than 3 ppm)
- Washington, DC: 7 ppm
*** The Domino's locations did NOT know beforehand about the test ***
What These Test Results Mean
This is not a wholesale endorsement of Domino’s gluten-free pizzas. Obviously, the threat of gluten exposure is very serious, and we only tested 3 locations (out of over 5,000 locations in the United States).
While I urge caution in your decision to eat gluten-free pizza from Domino's (and also keep the lab results firmly in mind), I think it’s interesting that we were so quick to attack Domino’s. No, they don’t have a dedicated oven for their gluten-free pizzas, but Outback Steakhouse doesn’t have a gluten-free kitchen. Neither do Legal Seafood, P.F. Changs, Subway, or any of the other national or local restaurants with gluten-free menus we love so much.
Is it OK for us to take the risk and eat at these establishments? Is it one of those things where we need to weigh the harms versus the benefits and just act, similar to eating unhealthy food, smoking or drinking? Should we discourage the “gluten-free” label from being haphazardly thrown around, or should we encourage the rapid growth of this industry?
Makes you almost miss the days when we didn’t even have a choice…
So what do you guys think? Let us know in the comments below.