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Featuring peppers, onions, and mushrooms as toppings, the new gluten-free veggie pizza will give those suffering from celiac disease or wheat intolerance or allergy yet another option to enjoy pizza at Uno. Frank W. Guidara, CEO of Uno Chicago Grill, says the company was encouraged to proceed with the launch after the gluten-free community responded so passionately to Uno's introduction of its cheese and pepperoni gluten-free pizzas earlier this year.
"The best thing about the launch of our gluten-free pizzas was that the celiac community responded so positively and helped spread the word," Guidara says. "Local support groups, online communities, and individuals were excited about this product and embraced it far beyond our most optimistic hopes.
In truth, we've been overwhelmed by the reception, so we are delighted to offer yet another option to this under-served audience."
Uno's gluten-free pizza crust is prepared in a dedicated gluten-free facility, whose products are certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (www.gfco.org), and is delivered to restaurants frozen in a sealed case, for immediate placement into freezers. Uno's gluten-free pizzas are thin crust and round, making the difference in shape from their oval flatbreads and deep- dish pizzas striking and unique to the eye.
Uno has offered an extensive gluten-free menu since 2006, with over 20 items ranging from appetizers to entrees, to desserts and beverages. Menu choices include grilled chicken with mango salsa, lemon basil salmon and Certified Angus Beef steaks, but the development of gluten-free pizzas took over a year and a half before the company felt it had the right product.
"Food allergies are a very serious, sometimes life-threatening issue for many Americans," says Guidara. "Pizza is our signature product, and we wanted to offer a gluten-free pizza so all of our guests could enjoy pizza when dining at Uno. With that in mind, we spent over a year developing a crust that lived up to the Uno name."
With 12 million Americans suffering from food allergies, including 2.5 million school-age children , Uno considers it good business and good corporate citizenship to offer an ever-expanding gluten-free menu. This commitment is made all the more compelling by the fact that an estimated 1 in every 133 people has celiac disease.
While awareness of celiac disease is rising, more than 95 percent of people with the disease remain undiagnosed. Among people who have a first-degree relative—a parent, sibling, or child—diagnosed with celiac disease, as many as 1 in 22 people may have the disease.