It looks like a storm may be brewing between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Restaurants and the Celiac community over gluten free menu's at restaurants.
What started it all? Boston Pizza's gluten free menu. The blog Gluten Free Ontario first the article "Boston Pizza - Why Gluten Free Menu was Pulled". If you read the article it quotes an email from Boston's Pizza's current Communications Manager. I tried contacting Boston Pizza for further information, but I got the exact same response. I kind of expected that because being from a Marketing & Communications background myself, I would be doing the same thing, to make sure there is only one message getting out. Essentially Boston Pizza said that the CFIA said items on the menu were not classified as gluten free. So their gluten free menu was pulled.
BUT DON'T PANIC, Boston Pizza still offers their gluten free pizza!
I did want to dig into this further, so I tried contacting the other side of the story, being, the CFIA. I was looking for clarity on the Gluten Free Ontario blog post explaining:
"Any clarity on the blog post above, or statement on what restaurants will be asked to do or not to, to accommodate this diet in their establishment will be great.
Currently, we are very happy with how restaurants are accommodating, and being open to serving a gluten free meal, and yes some with a separate gluten free menu. Life will be made extremely hard for the 1 and 133 Canadians that have Celiac Disease if establishments are inadvertently scared off from accommodating this diet."
I essentially am worried that all the restaurants looking to accommodate the gluten free diet will be scared off and will opt to stick with only their "regular" menu and offer no options for those needing gluten free meals. I wanted to confirm if this was an isolated case where Boston Pizza had non-gluten free items on the menu, or if they were trying to claim that because it is not a dedicated gluten free kitchen you can't truly have a gluten free menu.
The term "gluten free menu" has become a savior when going to restaurants looking for a gluten free meal so Celiac's can more easily filter out what is safe and what is not. As always Celiac's keep in mind the notion and the possibility of cross contamination, which is why it is important to be diligent.
I did get a response back from Yin Lee, Senior program officer with the CFIA which seemed positive.
My take on this, Boston Pizza messed up somewhere in their process of some of the gluten free menu items, or some of the ingredients in the menu items were not actually gluten free. Personally I was not even aware that there was a gluten free menu at Boston Pizza, only that there was gluten free pizza available.
I am happy to see that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with the food industry, however I would still like to see public involved in this. Don't leave the consumer out!
Let us know where you stand!