Part of me questions if the title of this post is misleading. Depending on who you are, and what your reasons for eating gluten free food are ultimately determine that. I am writing this from the perspective of an individual with celiac disease. Ultimately, this applies to anyone who requires a strict gluten free diet out of medical necessity. Ultimately, I wish all gluten free items were "safe" for everyone eating gluten free items whether they have celiac disease or not.
It was some time ago that Panera Bread announced they were coming out with “gluten conscious” menu items. This included a triple chocolate cookie with walnuts and a monster cookie with nuts. They didn’t intend to take any steps to prevent cross contamination, and they were very clear that they didn’t recommend these items for those with celiac disease or a severe gluten sensitivity. Despite the fact that these items were made in a dedicated facility (I heard this at the time, but I've been unable to confirm it today), they were going to store them on the racks with all of their other cookies. I never quite understood why the only items they would feature would be cookies considering they’re known for their bagels, but that is beside the point. If they were taking all of the effort to have them done in a gluten free facility, why couldn’t they simply individually wrap them to avoid any chance of cross contamination so those with celiac disease could enjoy them.
Then, several months ago, Starbucks began test marketing breakfast sandwiches in select markets. The sandwich would be in a special parchment bag that allowed staff to bake the sandwich without contaminating it. A few days ago, they announced their Gluten-Free Smoked Canadian Bacon & Egg Sandwich will be available nationwide (although it is not necessarily available at all locations). I’ve already heard a few accounts of staff misunderstanding and unwrapping the sandwich to bake it. It’s unfortunate that those with celiac disease need to do their due diligence to make sure they know it’s wrong if they receive an unwrapped sandwich. With that being said, it’s exciting that there is a safe option and that they took the time to ensure it could be done right.
|Starbucks Gluten-Free Smoked Canadian Bacon & Egg Sandwich Info|
|Domino's gluten free crust disclaimer|
My hope is that the companies doing things right will thrive and other companies will see this. I realize that those with celiac disease are a small percentage of the population, but we are ultimately the customer base. Those who choose to eat gluten free because it's healthier are unlikely to eat pizza or a breakfast sandwich in the first place, and those who choose it as a fad diet aren't going to be long term customers. If the goal is to build a long term customer base, then they need to make things for those who will require the diet for life. Eventually, the fad will die out, and there won't be anyone left to purchase their products unless those who require a gluten free diet are able to consume the item.