Last week I was all excited to discover that DiGiorno was coming out with gluten-free pizza. And not only gluten-free, but with a thick, hand-tossed crust. And the article said they were certified.
But, Celiac Disease has taught me to be even more of a skeptic than I already was, and in my experience with gluten free products, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
And it is.
Because I did some digging around, and found this article, which sadly clarifies that, “The crust is made from a gluten-free dough that uses wheat starch as the main ingredient instead of traditional wheat flour. Wheat starch is made by processing the wheat grain to remove gluten.”.
That’s a big red flag and a big no for me.
Sadly, gluten/wheat removed products, which have been allowed in Europe for years, are now apparently allowed in the United States. I’ll read in places that science says it is okay, but as far as I can tell, this is from lab models. My intestines tell me this is not okay. Not safe. I know from people who have reached out to me, friends and strangers alike, that I am not alone.
Plus, what about the people who are additionally allergic to wheat? They’re still going to have a reaction, rending a number of gluten-free foods unsafe, as they won’t be wheat free. I cannot have wheat, wheat grass, etc. I learned this the hard way. I didn’t have a full-out anaphylactic reaction, but wheat grass juice, for example, made it extremely difficult for me to breathe.
The FDA ruling still has the “must be less than 20ppm” guideline. This means a product could have anywhere from 0 – 19ppm. The higher the ppm, the sooner I will have a reaction and the less product it will take to get me to that tipping point.
By my understanding, wheat starch is used in gluten-free products because it makes the end result more like the “normal” version. Well, sure it does! It’s not truly gluten free! And now the facility is contaminated with the original non-gluten-removed wheat starch, along with the wheat itself.
The best gluten-free pizza I have found is Against the Grain, and they replicate the texture of gluten by using mozzarella in their crusts (and other bread products). A novel solution, and one that doesn’t introduce any risk of wheat/gluten into their facility.
C’mon, DiGiorno, think outside the box. If you really care about your Celiac/wheat-allergic customers, find another way to do this product. And don’t make it in your current facilities, which are FULL of flour.
Years ago, Snyder Pretzels were going to take the easy way out to produce their gluten-free pretzels, and they weren’t going to be safe. The Celiac/GF communities rallied together, and Snyder did the right thing. And they have delicious gluten-free pretzels! But somewhere along the lines, too many in the community seem to have decided not to push back. Not to push for companies to do the right thing. If we keep letting companies get away with pseudo-GF versions of their products, we will have less and less that is safe. Companies will see that there won’t be any push back to do it right, and I predict products will become more and more unsafe.
Let’s cut them off before that point happens.
For more information, read this post by the Gluten-Free Watchdog.