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The chain is giving the celiac community mixed messages, warning them to be cautious of its gluten-free crust.

Devon Walsh
August 08, 2017

National pizza chain, Papa John’s unveiled its Ancient Grains Gluten-Free Crust with one major caveat—celiacs should probably not order it. Or if they decide to, it’s not Papa’s fault if they suffer consequences. They’ve been warned.

The crust in question is made with quinoa, sorghum, amaranth and teff (a poppyseed-sized grain). Papa John’s takes further precautions by processing these pies in facilities where no gluten product ever dared to go.

However, in a statement that repeated, “Papa John’s Ancient Grains Gluten-Free Crust," three times, the company told CNBC that although the crust “is gluten-free and Papa John’s employs procedures to prevent contact with gluten, it is possible that a pizza with Papa John’s Ancient Grains Gluten-Free Crust is exposed to gluten during the ordinary preparation process. Please use your best judgment in ordering [this crust] if you have a sensitivity to gluten.” Why go through all that trouble, only to deny those abstaining from the protein?

CNBC surmised that the decision is the corporation’s attempt to gain profit from a pervasive diet trend. After all, gluten-free sales spiked 178% in 2016, compared to only three years earlier. It’s not surprising that fast-food chains want some of the wealth. Chick-fil-A recently released a gluten-free bun. However, the chicken chain issued no such warning and their separate, assemble-it-on-your-own packaging confirms that, along with profits, they also have celiacs in mind.

This whole situation reminds us of the “May Contain Tree Nuts” warnings typically found on candy labels like M&Ms and 3 Musketeers. These pleas for allergy suffers to take heed allow companies to wash their hands of a lawsuit, were a tragedy to take place.

Either way, the decision remains a solid business move. Plus, some would argue that Papa John’s is sticking to their slogan: “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.” Just not for celiacs.