Recent top stories in gluten free news include the latest in the battle over Jennifer’s Way Bakery, a new portable gluten sensor and outrage over a Zara t-shirt.
Battle over Jennifer’s Way Bakery
UPDATE 5/29/2016: Fox News has reported that Jennifer Esposito, owner of Jennifer’s Way Bakery in New York City, had left the United States for Denmark. Her plan, they wrote, was to escape an ongoing lawsuit against her, filed by investors in the expanded bakery facility in Queens. However, someone failed to fact check this as Jennifer was seen in her East Village Bakery on Friday, they day the story was published. She took to Facebook to express her disappointment with the report and posted pictures and videos of her from the bakery throughout the day.
Fox News cited Page Six as the source of their information. Page Six has updated their story but the headline remains “Jennifer Esposito skips town amid legal drama.” Maybe they meant “skips through town?” Perhaps most insultingly, she has yet to receive an apology from the media outlets who reported this false story, according to a video posted Saturday on Facebook.
Embattled Jennifer’s Way Bakery announced on Facebook in March that some of their gluten free bakery products can again be ordered online. This comes after actress and celiac Jennifer Esposito, owner of Jennifer’s Way Bakery, distanced herself from the expanded facility that previously handled online orders. Orders are now going directly to the little bakery that started it all.
In 2013, Jennifer opened her gluten free bakery in New York City’s East Village. In 2014, she found investors who pitched in to allow Jennifer’s Way Bakery to ship gluten free baked goods nationwide via a facility in Queens. However, the relationship with the investors has soured, and they have filed a $43 million lawsuit against her. The lawsuit alleges that she failed to transfer ownership of the East Village bakery to the newly formed partnership. The lawsuit also claims Jennifer was difficult to work with, refusing to allow corn in a product because she was allergic to it and not because it was dangerous to celiacs.
Jennifer responded to this by claiming on Facebook that she no longer had control of the Jennifer’s Way Bakery Queens facility and couldn’t stand by any of the products sold from there. The website to order from the Queens facility was re-directed to her personal website, effectively shutting down ordering.
I applaud Esposito for standing up against the investors when she felt they were taking things in the wrong direction. It’s her name on the brand, and as the person with celiac disease (and a corn allergy) she should have control over the recipes, even if that does seem “difficult” to someone not living it every day. The signs on the front of her East Village bakery include “allergy friendly” so clearly she knows and understands what her customers are after and was making the call with their best interests in mind.
As for the transfer of the store to the partnership, there’s very little information from either side about that. My guess is that it is all tied in to feeling like her company was being taken over by the investors. However, if the transfer was part of the agreement for financing, she’s probably going to lose on that point in court. That is unfortunate, and I hope that the damage isn’t so major that she loses the East Village bakery too.
I’m glad she’s found a way to keep shipping some of her products out of Jennifer’s Way Bakery in the East Village for now. It is unfortunate to see that someone trying to make gluten free products widely available is finding out that they’ve partnered with people who don’t share her vision of the best way forward. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Jennifer’s Way Bakery.
Portable gluten sensor launching later this year
Nima is a portable gluten sensor which allows you to check if your food has gluten in it when dining out. This new gadget has received a lot of press this month, and is expected to be available to consumers in mid-2016. You add a bit of the food in question to the single-use capsule inside the device and close the lid. In less than two minutes, the system breaks down the food, releases it to a test strip, and returns results, letting you know if the food has more or less than 20 parts per million of gluten. It works on both solids and liquids, so you can check that mysterious mixed cocktail or too-good-to-be-gluten-free beer, too. It’s also linked up to a mobile app which lets you share your test results and see what others have tested.
Nima is different from other gluten sensors on the market because it uses a chemical process rather than light to identify gluten in the sample. This CNBC article explains the science behind it in more detail.
You can pre-order the Nima sensor for $199, which includes the device, three single-use capsules, a USB cable and a pouch. The full retail price of the system is $249, so the pre-order deal seems to provide pretty significant savings.
The website says that 12-packs of capsules will also be available to order on subscription. In their initial offer, you can order the system plus a 12-pack of capsules for $247, so it looks like the 12-packs will cost about $48.
I think this gadget would be really handy when you’re traveling in foreign countries, since sometimes the language barrier makes it really hard to be sure if you’ve communicated your needs clearly. However, the high cost of the system and additional capsules mean it’s just not in the budget for me. Say you bought the system (in the pre-order deal) with the extra 12 capsules – you’d average a cost of $16.47 per food sample test. That’s possibly more than you’re paying for the meal!
If the price of the system was closer to $50 and the capsules about $1 a piece (rather than what looks like $4 currently) then I’d probably be tempted. For now, I’m going to pass on this.
Learn more or pre-order the system on Nima’s website.
Zara pulls gluten free t-shirt after outrage
A Spanish woman started a petition on Change.org after passing by a display in a Zara window featuring a t-shirt that was printed with the words “are you gluten free?” She said the slogan upset her because it trivialized celiac disease, treating it like it was just a fad. The petition amassed over 53,000 signatures and Zara has now pulled the t-shirt from their website, and is pulling it from store shelves as well. Inditex, parent company of Zara, wrote a response on the petition page which said they “sincerely regret” that the shirt has been interpreted to trivialize celiac disease and apologized for the offense caused. The statement said Inditex “is especially sensitive to any matter relating to health,” especially those related to celiac disease.