Has anyone heard from Lady Gaga lately? On August 6, her handlers announced that was ‘going gluten free’ (their term) in order to lose ten pounds. Presumably, she has met that goal by now or has given up completely. Many of us would have said that her regimen was actually a low carbohydrate diet that was also gluten free. In any case, she hasn’t done anything or said anything important enough to be reported in an article that that made it to page 4 or better on the google search engine since August 24. (FYI: that is the criteria I use for success in my writing.)
On May 6, Domino’s Pizza announced a new product that was both gluten free BUT inappropriate for people with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance. Don’t waste your time looking on the internet to find out if they reached their goal of producing a pizza crust that wheat-eaters would pay $3 extra to consume.
The California Pizza Kitchen had a similar problem at the beginning of the year. The evidence was removed from the California Pizza Kitchen website so quickly that I did not have the opportunity to read and respond. The gluten free menu at CPK now does not mention pizza.
How can we control these ‘misunderstandings’. Part of the problem is we are stuck with single term — Gluten Free — which has come to mean different things to everyone who uses it. The rest of the world has this under some semblance of control. For example:
- there are low-sugar foods that I can eat but my diabetic wife can’t. She needs to look for (and can usually find) foods that are described differently,
- there are three grades of gasoline — my automobile engine knows the difference and I know which grade to pump into the tank. That’s all I really need to know.
- there are low calorie foods and beverages, restricted calorie food, and even a few no-calories foods and beverages. We have choices!
But we are all stuck with the single term ‘gluten free’. I’d like to use other terms, but ‘gluten free’ is the only term that the computer search engines understand. If I chose other terms, it would be extremely difficult to find my article. If you did , you might not understand what I mean when I utter phrases like ‘safe for celiacs’, ‘low in gluten’, or ‘contains <200 parts-per-million gluten.
The Food and Drug Administration is complicating the problem by delaying its decision. Part of their problem may be that they are obsessed with the idea of finding a single term to apply to a terribly complicated subject. To close with an example: Lady Gaga and I are both using the term ‘gluten free’ to describe our diet and our lifestyle. It’s not a matter of right-or-wrong. I have history on my side, but the important thing is to find some way to communicate.
One final note: obviously, this an editorial expressing my personal opinions. I hope my ideas are helpful. Have a great week!
Confusion seems to be the order of the day in America’s gluten free community.