Update on Subway’s Gluten-Free U.S. Trials

This article was released today on Subway’s gluten-free bread trials. I am really impressed by their efforts. A few points that jumped out at me:

  • They are obviously really aware of cross-contamination and making huge efforts to avoid that. This is one area usually overlooked by companies who jump into the gluten-free market.
  • Perhaps it’s because their motivations aren’t entirely money-driven: public operations manager Kevin Kane is quoted in the article as saying, “(Gluten intolerance) doesn’t impact a large mass of people. We’re not judging these tests on sales, but instead on what we’re able to do for a handful of our customers and their feedback.”
  • They seem to have a good understanding of what Celiac disease is all about: “This isn’t a trend, it’s a way of life.”
  • This line cracked me up: Baking specialist Mark Christiano is quoted as saying, We eat lunch in the test kitchen every day and this guy always used to come in with the ugliest looking product you’ve seen. I tried it once and it tasted like it looked.”
  • And this quote excites me: “We knew we had what we wanted when we served a platter with the items at a board of directors meeting and they all ate it and said how good it was. They didn’t know it was different, or gluten-free. It tasted like something mainstream.”

Do you have news on Subway’s trials, or other restaurants that are working to be gluten-friendly? Share it with us!

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  1. #1 by Raven on September 8, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    It would be nice to have more options, but “fast-food” style restaurants scare me. They are often fast-paced, and I doubt they are giving their employees an earnest education in gluten. I don’t eat out very often, and when I do, it’s at higher-priced restaurants where you’re more likely to have a “chef” instead of a “cook,” and the people in the kitchen aren’t 17-year-olds who couldn’t care less about what you want.

    I know, I sound crusty. I’m just tired of restaurants saying, “Yes, we can provide you with a gluten-free meal,” and then glutening me. I think a lot of places just don’t realize how serious a gluten reaction can be. You say, “peanut allergy” and everyone snaps to attention. But with gluten, because you’re not going to DIE from it, some restaurants think nothing of just picking croutons back out, or not washing their hands after touching the bread before touching your plate. It’s a small thing, but it’s important.

    With Subway, their (gloved) hands are literally all over the bread, and back into the ingredients. There are crumbs everywhere. It would be interesting to see a gluten-free Subway but I’m not sure I would actually eat there.

    • #2 by glutenfree4hfx on September 12, 2011 - 12:02 pm

      I absolutely agree. One thing that I liked about the Subway article was the training and preparation that is going into their processes to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur. This includes things like hand-washing, having a separate (paper) surface for the gluten-free bread, and having one person in charge of the sandwich. However, it is scary to put your well-being in a total stranger’s hands.

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