ABC News Giving Very Bad Advice

While researching the controversy over Domino’s Gluten Free pizzas (and how they aren’t really gluten free), I ran across a piece that ABC News did back in May of 2012.  It was run under their “Consumer Watchdog” series — but interestingly, it’s the reporting that needs to be scrutinized since it’s full of misinformation.

Click here to watch the video:  ABC News Community Watchdog: Domino’s to Make Gluten Free Pizza

So where did they go wrong?

1. It should be noted first off, that Domino’s Gluten Free pizza is not actually gluten free.

The ingredients used to make the pizza are gluten free, but unfortunately the preparation, cooking, and serving of the pizza take place on/in contaminated surfaces.  Once the pizza reaches the consumer, it has become severely cross contaminated and completely inappropriate for anyone suffering with Celiac or gluten allergies.  Dominoes website states:

▲ Who should eat Domino’s Gluten Free Crust?

Domino’s Pizza does not give medical advice. Please contact your physician if you have concerns about consuming this product, knowing the following:

  • Pizzas made with Gluten Free Crust are made in a common kitchen. We do not have a separate area in our kitchens that are guaranteed free from gluten.
  • While the Gluten Free Crust is certified to be free of gluten, the pizzas made with the Gluten Free Crust use the same ingredients and utensils as all of our other pizzas.

I’d hoped that this was actually the focus of the ABC story given it’s title — but they missed the target completely.

2. ABC’s Claim: Only 1% of the nation has Celiacs — so blame the gluten free hype on Hollywood.

Truth: Sorry ABC, your data is slightly misleading.  Although, according to the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, celiac disease affects approximately 1 in every 141 people in the United States (the 1% that ABC reports), the Celiac Disease Foundation states that the majority of people with celiac disease have yet to be diagnosed.  Additional research shows that as recently as 2000, most of those diagnosed with Celiac have waited an average of 11 years for a correct diagnosis.  The fact that the majority have not been diagnosed, and/or are waiting for a correct diagnosis of the problems they’re having, suggests that the percentage of those afflicted is actually much higher.

But even so — what if the number is only 1%.  Can we “blame” the hype on Hollywood?  Well, maybe, but the fact remains that people with gluten sensitivity and/or Celiac Disease do get healthy on a gluten free diet.  Maybe Hollywood is to blame for the hype, but not the results, but those of us who have finally found restaurants, grocery stores, and food labeling more helpful in our quest to get healthy can only thank them!

The Celiac Disease Foundation offers a great list of statistics from which I got my data. You can view at this link: Samuel Gee   Celiac Awareness Bill.

3. ABC’s Claim: A gluten free diet is not healthy; it is deficient in fiber and can lead to vitamin B deficiencies.

Truth: Really?  Let’s look at this a little more closely.  As for dietary fiber, a well managed gluten free diet includes lots of vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, and very few processed foods.  Fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables have as much, and sometimes more fiber than whole grains like wheat and bran.  It is incredibly easy to get the daily recommended level of fiber without ever eating a single ounce of any of cereal grains.  Unfortunately, many people don’t consume enough fiber regardless of the type of diet they’re on for the simple fact that they rely on highly processed foods for the bulk of their dietary needs.  Processed foods, whether they are made from “whole grains” or “gluten free grains” are all highly deficient when it comes to nutritional value.  The second part of the argument — namely B deficiency — is also incorrect.  Following the same argument I just made for fiber, nuts and seeds provide all the same B vitamins that grains provide, and in a healthier, non-inflammatory package.  A well managed gluten free diet that includes a wide variety of nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit on a daily basis easily provides all of the necessary fiber and vitamins to remain healthy.

Here is a great chart which shows the fiber and vitamin/mineral content by food source.  Nuts, Grains, and Seeds Chart.

Let me finish by making the point that today’s American eats a horribly deficient diet due to a prevalence of highly processed, nutrient deficient, chemically preserved foods.  Any diet that relies on breads, crackers, chips, pasta, boxed/canned/frozen prepared meals, processed deli meats, and a plethora of sauces and condiments, is not one that contributes to health and wellbeing.  In contrast, a diet based on whole foods — foods that have had no processing other than harvesting or butchering — provide every nutritional component a body needs.

Take a look at this great photo pictorial of how the U.S. compares in the types of food eaten, to other countries, it’s somewhat disturbing. Average Weekly Food Consumption of Families Around The World