Thursday, May 24, 2012

Domino's Pizza drops Amber Gluten-Free Seal

Domino's Pizza has stopped using a controversial certification seal on its new pizza made with a gluten-free crust. But the company does not plan to discontinue the crust itself.

On its website, the national pizza delivery company said it now has a "Gluten Free Ingredients" rating from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Originally Domino's was given NFCA's Amber seal. That designation was designed for restaurants that get staff training regarding gluten-free meals and verify the gluten-free status of ingredients but don't guarantee that meals are free from cross contamination in the kitchen. It may take some time for the seal to disappear completely since it has already been printed on pizza boxes, but changes have already been made on Domino's website.

When the pizza was launched two weeks ago, both Domino's and the NFCA said it was not designed for those who have celiac disease because the crust was likely to be cross contaminated during preparation. Domino's said it was made for those who are "mildly sensitive" to gluten.

Negative reaction from many in the gluten-free community caused NFCA to suspend use of the Amber seal, part of a new two-tier certification program. The Green tier, used for restaurants with that meet higher standards, including strict gluten cross-contamination controls, is still being used by the group.

Domino's said despite withdrawal of the Amber seal NFCA supports the company's effort to provide a crust made with gluten-free ingredients to a national audience. While many with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, who must avoid all gluten, protested the pizza, some consumers following the gluten-free diet for other reasons said it does meet their needs.

NFCA said it is re-evaluating the Amber seal but remains committed to finding effective ways to warn gluten-free diners that all gluten-free menus are not created equal. The risk of gluten contamination in restaurant kitchens, even those that advertise gluten-free items, is higher than most consumer realize, according to the group.

Amy Ratner

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