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Domino’s Gluten-Free Pizza and What They Can Learn from Chuck E. Cheese’s

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.

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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!

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Author Info

Giliah Nagar

Comments ( 23 )

  • Robin

    I think that is a great way to look at it. I too thought it was ridiculous that they were announcing a “gluten free” pizza and then stating that it wasn’t safe for celiacs. However, you’re right Domino’s is just being honest up front. I can’t wait to hear about your test of the pizza!

  • Gailstorm02

    Chuck E. Cheese’s should be getting the awards!!!!

  • J.K.

    I hate to see Domino’s get so heavily criticized. Restaurants are putting out extra effort and expense to make an attempt at gluten-free items when they don’t have to. It would be much easier not to. Yes I agree the labeling of gluten-free should not be thrown around carelessly. Since gluten is absolute poison to a Celiac, the NFCA has no business giving their stamp of approval in a situation that is not certain of being gluten-free. However, I’d still rather see restaurants “trying” to be gluten-free. In time hopefully their practices will improve and encourage other restaurants to do the same. Ultimately, I agree with the criticism towards the NFCA but not Domino’s. Thank you Domino’s for trying. There may be room for improvement but it’s a great start!

  • M

    We have a Pizza place “Marks” that has frozen crusts and toppings in a seperate area in the store. The crusts come on a alum pan and are cooked in the same oven as the regular pizzas (conveyer oven) The pizza shovel is cleaned each time, and they use a seperate cutter. All the workers touching the pizza put on fresh gloves. Daughter has Celiac. No problems. Are Domino’s pizza on/ in a pan?

  • Dino

    To me the larger issue is the fact that they do use the word gluten free and even throw out the 20 parts per million stat. They should have said that they make the crust without gluten containing ingredients but with the assembly and cooking process is on shared equipment. When I eat out at restaurant that offer items without gluten I talk to the manager regarding cross contamination issues. If I feel comfortable I will risk it, otherwise not. I think it boils down to how it was marketed, not so much at what it is or isn’t.

  • Heather

    I ate the gluten free pizza from Domino’s and it made me sick!!!

  • GF in CA

    The difference between Dominos and some other restaurants is that Dominos has flour suspended in the air. It would be impossible to offer a gf pizza from their kitchen. Only a prepackaged pizza prepared in a separate oven in a separate room from the area where there is air borne flour. Similarly, it is impossible for gluten-using bakeries to prepare gf products.

  • Lisa

    My major thought after reading this is that regardless of what happens from this point on, Amber’s mark will mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s meaningless.

  • Linda

    I was so excited when my husband found out that Dominos pizz had gluten free pizza, but later finding people with Celiac could not have it. I was glad to see that Chuck E Cheese are safely making GF pizza’s. Thanks!

  • Martha

    Mellow Mushroom has a great GF pizza an does it the RIGHT way – separate everything and trained personnel.

  • Jamilah

    Hi–I’m eaten supposedly glutenfree pizza at many resteraunts. At Unos–if I don’t mention that I’m ‘very sensitive” I will usually get sick. Many smaller resteraunts same way. I agree it’s useless to have an almost glutenfree pizza. I would never risk it. If you’re gonna do it, do it right! Especially if you are a national chain. They can afford to copy chucky cheese. There’s a dominos down the street. I’d love to order take out!

  • Karen

    We tried Dominos gluten free pizza last week. It was delicious. We then allowed my daughter to try it. Now normally if my daughter has even a few bites of something with gluten in it, she immediately gets sick within minutes and misses school the next day. She ate half a piece of pizza and had no symptoms at all. I look forward to hearing the results of your testing.

  • Laura

    Amber designation is worthless, got it. And I do not give Domino’s credit for going halfway to gluten-free. They’re just hoping to cash in on a newly growing market without actually having to go far enough to make it safe. It’s like they figure the gluten-free stuff is all in our head, so what’s the harm if it’s not actually gluten-free?

  • Lorre Hopkins

    I can’t imagine it would be good for the gluten free pizza toco-exist with all that flour being tossed around. I run into this often at restaurants and sometimes it is just a lack of understanding. I eat at Smokey Bones often and they offer fries on their gluten free menu but when I press them further I find out the fries are cooked in the same fryer as the battered fish, etc. I’ve really been fighting with them to either take it off the menu or get a separate fryer. We all need to just keep politely educating people and if Dominoes doesn’t sell many PARTIALLY gluten free pizza’s they will be forced to fix it. It sounds like they wanted the gluten free customers but weren’t prepared to really work hard at it. There are a lot of people trying to get on the gluten free bandwagon for the money but haven’t a clue to the seriousness of proper food handling. I’m all for more choices but I don’t like be made a fool of either.

  • Beth

    I for one am happy that Domino’s is making the effort. A few years ago nobody knew what gluten free meant. Having a national chain carry it is a huge step in the right direction. Instead of chastising them, I hope people will choose to gently suggest ways for them to make their product truly GF like Chuck E Cheeses. If all they hear is negative feedback then they will shut the door completely on GF and encourage other chains to do the same. Be nice people, this is a good thing in the end!!! And yes, I am a celiac.

  • Lorre Hopkins

    Also, Do they offer a casein free cheese? A lot of people with gluten problems had to avoid casein/dairy too.

  • Audra

    It’s a nice gesture to offer a GF option but cross contamination kind of defeats the purpose. Makes me wonder about the GF options offered at other restaurants. Is it truly GF or should I be worried about cross contamination there as well?

  • Teri Heenan

    Hi I agree if you are as sensitive as I am to gluten you should not even try Domino’s. I have eaten also at Uno’s and gotten sick and found out the pizza was not made in a safe spot in the kitchen. Same as with Smokey Bones. If any of you go to Disney they have some great tasting chicken tenders and fries which are fried in separtae fryers.

  • Cara

    I thinking that your testing will not really give any pertinent information except for that one serving of pizza. If the problem is the possibility of cross contamination that will differ with each pizza and each location. Even if the one you test comes back negative I would never risk eating it.

  • Sue

    I appreciate any company trying to make gf products, however, please do it properly. I am constantly trying to explain to friends that even though something is labeled gf I still can’t eat it. Most Celiacs have other allergies/intolerances, especially if you go most of your life undiagnosed. The message that needs to get out is that cross contamination is to be addressed very seriously. Another reminder to all of you trying to eat out, just because you don’t have a reaction does not mean that the food is safe for you and you could be damaging your intestines and causing other troubles to your body. IF in doubt, go without!

  • Lisa Rubin

    Unfortunately, most franchise restaurants mainly want the family business (and know that our families won’t go without us). I have just about given up on franchises, altogether, with the exception of those who subscribe to GFRAP. P.F. Changs is one.

    It is far safer for us to go to a small family owned place where they can get to know you. Skip the GF pasta and stick to Greek salads or plain grilled meat or fish.

  • Coryne butler

    I Couldn’t eat any of this GF stuff anyways… I have intolerances to grains used in place of wheat :( so I just go paleo :)

  • Erica

    I didn’t know chuck e cheese had gluten free pizza !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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