Can't We All Get Along?
There’s a lot to be accomplished in the gluten-free community -- but we’re busy squabbling among ourselves.
If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the hurricane of attention and emotion swirling around Domino’s Pizza’s announcement that it’s now offering gluten-free pizza. The controversy stems from Domino’s designation of “gluten free”—what exactly does that mean in this case? Domino’s is using gluten-free crust, but the pizzas aren’t being prepared in designated clean areas. Any celiac knows that the risk of gluten cross contamination in any pizza shop is off-the-charts high if safety accommodations aren’t in place.
Domino’s enlisted help from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), which created an "Amber" designation for the pizza chain. This means Domino’s pizza is okay for those avoiding gluten due to mild gluten sensitivity or non-medical reasons (to lose weight, for instance), but it’s definitely not okay for those with celiac disease.
In a world where eschewing gluten is fashionable and even faddish, we’re going to see more of this type of loosey-goosey designating. Something similar has already been occurring in the gluten-free marketplace with some companies slapping the GF label on products to boost sales. (FDA’s long-anticipated GF labeling standards will soon address this problem, I hope.)
At best, what’s happening at Domino’s is confusing. At worst, it’s dangerous.
But all that aside for the moment. Consider this. In the United States, there are five – yes, five – national non-profit organizations that represent the gluten-free community. Scratch around a little and you’ll find that they all basically share a similar mission: to help the celiac and gluten-free community. Can they get on the same page, work together and unite with one voice to push forward an agenda that brings about positive changes for us? It just isn’t happening.
This is Celiac Awareness Month and it’s also National Food Allergy Awareness Week. Several days ago, the country’s two leading food allergy nonprofits – FAAN and FAI – got together to announce they are merging. For 15 years, these two giants have held a shared mission, similar to our five national celiac groups. According to FAAN’s press release, the two are now becoming one organization so that they can lead the charge…
“to find a cure for food allergies and to support all families who live with this life-threatening condition day in and day out.”
Can you hear my applause?
It will be fun to see what these two will accomplish now that they literally are on the same page and working together. Just imagine the progress – a sustained spike in research, advocacy, support and outreach, policy changes, public awareness, etc.
I hope for this kind of cooperation in the gluten-free community one day.