If you’re not aware, the pizza maker, Dominos released what they are claiming as a gluten-free crust about a week ago. Part of the release is an endorsement from the NFCA. It also comes with a huge disclaimer about the potential for cross contamination and states that people who have Celiac or who are eating a gluten free diet should not eat the crust because of that cross contamination. The endorsement by the NFCA is an “Amber” endorsement. Basically, an endorsement that it might be ok for people who are slightly gluten intolerant to try it. And an endorsement of the fact that Dominos tried.
The group behind the 1in133 organization says yes, they tried. They tried to dupe a whole bunch of people who have to eat gluten free into trying to eat a pizza that they claim is gluten free. They tried to dupe a whole bunch of people out of money and make them sick at the same time. 1in133 has started a petition to ask NFCA to stop using the Amber endorsement altogether. In short, they want an endorsement from a gluten free advocate to actually mean that the food is gluten free and isn’t just a good try.
I’m signing it. And you can too.
Sign the petition and tell NFCA to ditch the Amber endorsement.
In light of the Damian Cardone fiasco, I thought it was time we revisit the education part of The Gluten Free Life. One of the most important things that a newly diagnosed Celiac can do is to educate himself/herself on what that really means. There’s a great deal to learn about what you can and cannot eat, and all the funny names that gluten can hide behind. But, no matter how much you educate yourself, it’s clear that you still have a lot to watch out for. And, even then, you end up getting gluten’d by people like Damian Cardone. Which is why your education efforts don’t end with yourself, or even your friends and family. You’ve got to attempt to educate your entire community.
Let’s start at the beginning. You’re planning on going out to eat at a local restaurant. Don’t wait until you get to the restaurant to find out if it will be safe for you. If you can, do it days ahead of time. Not every trip will be scheduled that far in advance, but, try to give yourself at least an hour or two.
- Start by looking online to see if they have a website. If they do, see if you can find any information on allergy/dietary needs or (if you’re really lucky) a gluten free menu.
- If they don’t have any info online, call ahead, before they’re busy and discuss your visit with the chef. You’ll likely get some wonderful advice on what you can and can’t have while visiting the restaurant. Avoiding discussing it at the table while everyone else is trying to order will help avoid any annoyance on the part of the wait staff, and the chef.
- If you have days before the event, offer to stop in and visit with the Chef. You may be surprised with how many times you’ll get taken up on the offer.
Taking steps to keep yourself safe, while doing it ahead of time, and in a respectful way, can help other celiac sufferers too. The more positive experiences that chefs have with gluten free diners, the less likely it is that they will develop an attitude towards gluten free diners like that of Damian Cardone. Another thing to keep in mind is that if the restaurant that you’ll be visiting is one that is local to you and that you will likely be revisiting again, the more important it is to develop a relationship with the chef and staff of that restaurant. Putting in a little time here and there to help educate them can give you a safe haven dining spot where you know that, not only is the staff attempting to deliver food that is safe for you, but that, because of the education help they’ve received from you, they likely will deliver food that is safe for you.
Additionally, many of the gluten free and celiac organizations offer educational materials and classes to help educate people, and the staff of food service companies like restaurants.
Celiac learning is an offering by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. They have great courses for both food service professionals and medical professionals.
The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) also has a wealth of information on their website, including a training/education program specifically for restaurant workers.
Many of us who have Celiac, or live with those that who do, know the importance of avoiding gluten at all costs. Many times, finding a restaurant or cafe that has a gluten free menu and takes the time to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated is a source of great excitement. And, sometimes, gluten gets in there anyways. This post by a chef on facebook makes me wonder how often it isn’t a mistake…
Damian J Cardone calls Gluten Free Diners Idiots
I really just don’t understand how anyone can make a claim like that. Maybe he’s looking for the more immediate reaction that, say, a peanut or shellfish allergy would bring? Somebody needs to educate this fellow. And until then, he should not be serving anyone anything at all. Unbelievable. Anyone from Glenwood Springs, CO that knows where this guy works? UPDATE: Based on a few photos from his facebook page, I think he may work at an Italian restaurant called Florindo’s in Glenwood Springs, CO. If you are gluten free and find yourself there, you might ask if he’s cooking first.
Here’s a direct link to the facebook post on his wall. (for as long as it stays there. Maybe he’ll get smart and delete it. UPDATE (3/30/11 3:58 Eastern): It looks like his entire facebook account is gone. Glad I got a screenprint…)
Also, here’s where I first heard about this: Celiac Handbook on Facebook
ADDED: In another post, he says “May god help the Liberal hippie idiot whos going to ask for gluten free pasta this weekend.”
ADDED: A really well written post as an open letter to the chef at Injera and Chocolate Gravy
UPDATE (3/31/11 12:07 am): It made the news in Glenwood Springs on the 30th. Here’s a link to it: KJCT 8 covers Damian Cardone story
UPDATE (3/31/11 12:36 pm): The local newspaper, The Post Independent, ran an article about as well: Former Glenwood Chef’s Facebook comment angers celiac sufferers (note: it’s kind of a sloppy piece, but it gets the job done. For instance, Shauna Ahern didn’t break the story. The first place I saw it was on the Celiac Handbook facebook page, and it likely was on Celiac.com as well, way before either Shauna or myself broke it.)
UPDATE (3/31/11 10:19 pm): I finally found the link to the second television spot: 9news: Chef’s gluten free secret
Uno Chicago Grill has a nutritional page on their website that also has a list of their Gluten Free options. Of course, the menu’s at many restaurants change rather regularly, so you’ll want to check beforehand or make sure and ask a server or manager to double check.
The list is available at: http://www.unos.com/kiosk/nutritionUnos.html
The List includes (As of 08/08/2007):
- Strawberry Smoothie
- Chocolate Monkey
- Tropical Fruit Freezer
- Raspberry Lime Ricky
- Wild Mango Smoothie
- Fab Firsts
- Chicken Gorgonzola
- Grilled Simple Chicken
- Ice Cream Sundae (vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce)
- Burgers (ordered without Buns and Ultimate Burger Sauce)
- Uno Burger
- Uno Burger with cheddar
- Uno Burger with cheddar and bacon
- Uno Burger with cheddar and vegetables
- Kid’s Cheeseburger
- Great Greens (ordered without croutons and breadstick)
- House salad
- Classic Cobb Salad
- Greek Salad ( without roasted marinated peppers)
- Smoke, Sizzle, and Splash
- NY Strip steak
- Top Sirloin steak
- Chop House Classic
- Lemon Basil Salmon
- BBQ Grilled Shrimp
- Baby Back Ribs
- BBQ Pork Sticks
- Steamed Broccoli
- Steamed or Roasted seasonal vegetables
- Mashed Potato
- Smashed Cauliflower