Pizza Hut UK launch a new Gluten Free pizza - or do they?

Are chains now catering for coeliacs or just trying to cash in on the 'trend' for gluten free diets from non-coeliacs that think it will help them lose weight - which we all know isn't true!

Guerrillas,

Do you have fond memories of eating at Pizza Hut before you were diagnosed a Coeliac? We do. We remember having a great 13th birthday party there and drinking lots of diet coke and delighting in ‘eating out’ and having pizza.

COELIAC UK CHARITY:

So we were pleased to learn in the Coeliac UK e-newsletter that charity for coeliacs (which required paid membership) stated:

"From October 8th, Pizza Hut will offer gluten-free pizza to all diners. Every Pizza Hut restaurant across the UK will offer the special square-shaped bases, which have been developed in close association with Coeliac UK and expert dough makers at Pizza Hut to ensure diners choosing a gluten-free option still experience the great Pizza Hut taste.

pizzahut.co.uk "

Wow. Imagine - another chain that actually caters for coeliacs. What great news! Also great for families and kids which are Pizza Hut’s target market. As it’s often hard to find gluten free places that are also family friendly.

QUESTIONS:

But then we got thinking..silly Guerrillas..sometimes we over-think, especially if we haven’t eaten enough bananas. We wondered..well if Coeliac UK have worked in partnership with Pizza Hut to get this right for Coeliac diners why is there no mention of how they’ll make it safe and suitable for us? Surely if you’d worked hard with a company you’d want to shout about it and encourage Coeliacs and their friends to try the new product?

Yet there was no mention in the Coeliac UK e-newsletter:

- of how Pizza Hut will avoid cross contamination?

- of how staff will be trained to ensure the GF pizza really is Gluten Free?

- of the what Coeliac UK has done to help Pizza Hut take this product to market?

- of the price of the pizza?

- of how they trialled and perfected the base?

Hmmm. Strange? Are we just overly cautious?

Well it seemed not as on Sunday night we started to see a lot of chatter on gluten free social media channels saying they thought the whole thing was a hoax. Obviously these were non-Coeliac UK members who hadn’t read the newsletter and had just seen the rumours on various Coeliac Facebook groups. What piqued our interest was that many had called Pizza Hut and they had allegedly denied all knowledge of the GF pizza launch. Odd we thought.

PIZZA HUT UK:

Website****************

So we reviewed the Pizza Hut website today expecting to see a nice new update on how they cater for Coeliacs. Instead we found this on their section for catering for allergies, intolerances and good old Coeliacs:

"Gluten free bases - will you be introducing them in the future?

We will not be introducing gluten free dough bases. Wheatflour is a core ingredient in our pizza and pasta dishes and we use flour in our kitchens for dusting and stretching pizzas.

Allergen information is available on our website.

We recommend Coeliacs use our salad bar most of which will be suitable, however you are advised not to eat the pasta salads, bacon bits, croutons and Caesar dressing. Since we refresh the ingredients on our salad bar regularly, please ask if you are unsure."

Hmm. Odder and odder. It clearly states they have no plans to introduce the GF pizza. Yet why would the website state this yet Coeliac UK state they were?

Pizza Hut restaurants********

We called three. Only one confirmed they knew of the launch and would be training staff this week about how to avoid cross contamination. They thought the GF pizzas would be the same prices as the ‘normal’ ones but couldn’t be sure yet.

Sounds like there was no soft launch of the product - let’s hope that a week of training helps the staff understand the seriousness of avoiding cross contamination.

Customer Services***********

We called Pizza Hut UK customer services (08447 700 669). They were very polite and helpful. They explained there were:

‘No plans to launch a gluten free pizza or cater for Coeliacs at the moment. If there were any menu changes we always get two weeks notice and would know.’

Stranger and stranger…

Pizza Hut Head Office************

So we asked their Customer Services for Pizza Hut’s Head Office number so we could talk to their Press Office. Except it seemed they don’t have a press office and we were given another number to call to talk to their external PR agency.

Pizza Hut’s PR Agency

Here they confirmed the truth. Yes - at last! We can confirm that Pizza Hut will indeed be launching a gluten free pizza on the 8th of October. But the PR agency had been left in the dark and hadn’t been made aware that Coeliac UK were publishing the story so soon. So that was why there seemed to be conflicting information.

To be continued…

So sadly we can’t tell you how much the pizza will be, how they’ll avoid cross contamination, what toppings you can have, whether it will be available via take-away as well (wouldn’t that be handy?!), whether they’re created in a separate section of their kitchens. But rest assured that as soon as we know - we’ll let you know!

As regular readers of our blog know we only share news once we’ve verified it and review products we’ve tried and loved. Otherwise - well - what would be the point? We’d just create confusion and you wouldn’t want to read our blogs would you?

So Guerrillas - look out for our updates on this and keep your fingers crossed that on the 8th you can enjoy a truly gluten free pizza, suitable for coeliacs!

What do you think?**********

Do you welcome chains creating gluten free options? Do you trust they train their staff to avoid cross contamination? Or do you think such GF options are aimed at gluten intolerant people and ‘gym bunnies’ jumping on the GF ‘trend’?

Do you believe that if a company is really serious about catering for the coeliac/ gluten free community that they’ll they do their best to engage with them and ensure their communication is joined up?

Would you love to eat a GF Pizza Hut pizza? Would your child? Let us know your thoughts..

Keep well and Gluten Free,

The Guerrillas

PS for the latest news from Pizza Hut sign up to their newsletter ‘Want more offers?’ and claim a £5 off voucher on the website

pizzahut.co.uk/restaurants/...

If you'd like to comment on our blog + read the full post with pictures and links then click here:

glutenfreeguerrillas.tumblr...

16 Replies

oldestnewest
  • Love the posting......I still have a question.....when they've used different coloured utensils, special gloves, a separate area in the kitchen etc Are they building a separate oven to cook purely GF pizzas?

    I do eat in some chains but it's with extreme caution eg....Harvester, the meal from the menu is fine but I don't touch the salad bar mainly because they keep the bread rolls on the top of it and to quote my daughter 'I watched a shower of bread dust rain down upon the salad' Doesn't stop me going for the ribs tho....

  • Very true Jillp. All one branch said to us was 'they'll wash their hands' before making the GF pizzas and they won't cut them (?) and they'll be cooked in the same oven but in metal trays so as to avoid touching the others. All fuzzy on the anti-contamination front to us.

    We maybe naive but if we were going to launch a GF product we'd make damn sure the comms was water tight, that we had FAQs to allay any coeliac fears and that staff were trained beyond belief to avoid making people ill. Having said that we're not making GF pizza. So maybe they are doing all this and have yet to communicate it. It seems they were caught unawares with CUK publicising it and now they are sorting out the training, website update, menus etc.

    Doesn't give us much faith. A bit like the latest iphone release - we may wait and see what others say until we rush out and try it ourselves. They'll no doubt have to iron out some issues. Unless they've already done some tests and soft launches - but it doesn't seem like it..odd.

  • Really great posting. I completely agree with your comments and share your concerns. After my last blog, someone said about chain restaurants providing gluten free options. However although some of these are good and its great they offer something, I am often still skeptical. Sometimes I think too much knowledge is a problem, as I am an environmental health officer so spend my days in kitchens talking to those preparing, handling and serving food. I have provided training to my colleagues on coeliac disease, related cross contamination etc so I feel we do a good job when out and about trying to educate people on producing gluten free food safely. However this is just my authority and coeliac UK have provided no information or advice etc to us, not even on the legislative changes - even though we are the ones who enforce it! I have contacted them, pretty much offering myself as a possible link between environmental health and themselves, but typically it fell on deaf ears. They said they do work with a few local authorities (probably 1 London based one - I

    I.e. not much help to the most of us) and directed me to their website. Right, thanks.... Detect my sarcasm!

    Anyway, I think that with chains, they are only as good as the manager and staff and their understanding. But remember staff move round frequently so one time you go they may be ok, the next time not. Cross contamination will therefore always be of concern to me. For instance coeliac UK statem McDonalds fries are ok. Yes the chips are and they generally have separate fryers, however one manager told me if they get really busy they will use the chip fryer for other things, like chicken nuggets so fries are no longer ok. I don't think most staff know that the chips should be gluten free because of coeliacs and the 'book'. I think its all well and good head office saying one thing and coeliac UK singing their praises, but they aren't there day in day out trying to manage a busy food business, who are ultimately just that - a business with financial pressures, and so if all staff aren't properly trained won't understand the risks and agreements made errors in terms of gluten free are likely to occur.

    I also find it interesting to note that coeliac UK are happy to give the headline, almost showing off in a kind of look what we've done kind of way, but when asked on the issues of real concerns to us, like above, they fail to answer and almost seem to disappear!

  • So so so true Codycat! For instance in Nandos last year we always say 'have the fries had anything else cooked in them?' and then we discovered they were regularly throwing in the head office croutons to make them crispier (at two of our local branches)! I did some loud talking and flouncing out after complaining to the Mgr. When we reported it to Nandos HQ they took swift steps to brief all branch mgrs, issue new guidelines and spoke to us in person (as they initially thought it was a joke and couldn't believe it). We've never had a problem since and always ask 'any croutons in the fries today?' to remind staff each time we visit. We've never had better service since. The responsibility will always be 50% on the coeliac diner to do all they can and ask all the right questions of branch mgrs - because as you say chains operate from handbooks and even if there is a mistake they will follow it blindly. So we need to bring common sense & educate people each time we eat until being gluten free is as normal as being vegetarian. A long way to go - but together we can all get there.

    GUYs - great comments - add them to the main blog - so more people engage - here: glutenfreeguerrillas.tumblr... ; )

  • I used to love going to Pizza Hut for their lunchtime special in the 90s!

    I messaged my local branch on the Isle of Wight (the only one here!) asking if gf pizza will be available for collection and this is their response:-

    "The only pizza not availible for delivery on our menu is the pizzetta hope that helps"

    Is it me, or is that an odd way to answer my question????

    Why didnt they say "Yes, it will be available for collection". I am planning on going down there on Monday so they had better not let me down!!!!!!

    I for one shall be trusting that they know what they are doing because I want to be able to eat pizza in a restaurant for the first time in 15 years!

    Helen

  • I heard that Dominoes was also launching a GF Pizza. I called them as it was supposed to have launched a month or so ago to ask what was going on. They said it was coming but had been delayed.....watch this space........

  • Brilliant posting cheers all! I woudl not trust these at all, even if they were cornflour free, which they probably wont be. Cooked in same oven?? So a draught cant dust them with flour?? Seeing how pizza hut lettuce and tomatoes made me glutenised i really wouldnt trust them. They have a lot to learn. I bet the kitchen is full of fine flour dust!!! And their aprons...blah blah

  • Shame ,would be so nice to go in with the family and not feel like an alien

  • what a glass half empty attitude..... i am thrilled that my 10year old daughter can finally join the masses and actually eat where all her friends do. surely we should rejoice that a national chain can cater for gluten free individuals finally, not be so suspicious that its some kind of conspiracy!! while you guys sit at home and slag it off, we'll hit the hut and be enjoying a great pizza...................................................................

  • I couldn't agree more .... Terrible attitude, OK so PH might it get it right straight away but it's a step in the right direction. It's a learning curve for anyone embarking on GF diets, I remember being diagnosed and finding it terribly difficult at first, nevertheless PH are trying and this militant negative attitude is exactly go to encourage chains to bother. Talk about feeling alienated when you go out to eat, I'd run a mile if I was confronted with such hostility, you lot alienate yourselves, how's about giving them a fair chance so we can all enjoy some options when we go out!

  • hi

    Both me and the husband are off tomorrow. We are going to try the Shrewsbury Pizza Hut to see. Keep you posted.. Can't help but feel a little apprehensive. :(

  • Well, if nothing else, the PH whispers uncovered this website for me :) I discovered I'm gluten intolerant when I fell in love with home-baking (especially bread!)... I still have a tricky tummy but after I cut out gluten, I started to wake up in the mornings which was pretty strange!

    My step-daughter texted her Dad to say she'd heard PH were doing a GF base, he was as excited as when he found out our local chip shop did a GF day, he even has his fish the GF way as the batter's so crispy :D

    For me it sounds fab BUT I'd be very nervous if I was a coeliac. I can't imagine PH have really sussed what they'll need to commit to, to really ensure no cross-contamination etc. On the plus side, I've only been off the gluten since January and I've noticed a lot of changes in the last few months and actually don't cringe when I walk down that aisle in the supermarket. I'm a fussy eater and was just so disappointed when I started with so many products I just couldn't face eating.

    Still, it's a step in the right direction if the likes of PH are at least considering it.

  • hi all i went to pizza hut and had the gf pizza in southend on sea it was really nice i would have it again and it was nice to go to a restarant with the famil and friends and be the same hope this helps

  • they still don't deliver witch is a pain but it is in the restarants so a step in the right direction

  • I had a hysterical conversation with our local Pizzahut delivery place the other night, the man kept telling me that he couldn't guarantee it was GF.... after a few minutes of going round in circles, I twigged that he had no idea and I had to explain to him that their 'normal' bases were definitely were made from wheat, a tad worrying for anyone not too certain about it all!

    I then tried to ring our local Pizzahut restaurant, thankfully the girl I spoke to was really helpful. Apparently they do serve them and nobody has ordered one yet! :) She was nice so we chatted for a few minutes, it certainly appears that the staff are not trained on cross-contamination etc. when I mentioned it, she did tell me they had a lower oven so if I was concerned, I should call ahead with my order and they could switch that oven on for me and use it (so it certainly seems a lots of them DO potentially have the facilites available).

    As I'm only intolerant, I'll live with that and it looks like we will try it out sometime this week, I'm so looking forward to it, shame I'll have to pass on the garlic bread!

  • I ate one of these pizzas last night and have had a reaction to it...complaint lodged with Pizza Hut...Very annoyed with myself as I didn't read up on it before hand....Will post results

You may also like...