Dunkin’ Donuts is looking out for its customers with celiac disease or who just want a healthier donut.
The company is set to become the first food chain to offer gluten-free pastries by announcing plans to sell gluten-free cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and blueberry muffins nationwide this year, Bloomberg reports.
“We recognize the importance of providing our guests with many options, including alternative choices for people with food and dietary restrictions,” said Stan Frankenthaler, the company’s executive chef. He also revealed that the new pastries had already been tested at different franchise locations in Massachusetts earlier in the year.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Estimates indicate that about 1 percent of the population suffers from celiac disease, a disorder caused by gluten consumption that harms the small intestine.
To avoid any potential contamination, Bloomberg said that the new, healthier items will be prepared and packaged separately from other food containing wheat flour.
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Dunkin’ Donuts is competing against a number of other chains, such as Starbucks and Mcdonald’s, all of whom are struggling to keep up with the rapidly growing gluten-free trend. People with or without gluten intolerances are increasingly adopting a healthier, gluten-free lifestyle, rather than the usual fare served up in restaurants.
Nasdaq cites a January 2013 study by NPD Group which says that 30 percent of adults are cutting back on gluten in their diets. The study also indicates that over 200 million restaurant visits in the United States in 2012 included customers who ordered gluten-free, or wheat-free food -- more than double what it was four years ago.
In this case, however, perception might not necessarily be reality. Bloomberg says that the new gluten-free cinnamon-sugar doughnut has 320 calories, as opposed to the glazed doughnut, which has 260 calories. The gluten-free blueberry muffin offers 400 calories, while the regular version has 460 calories, and the reduced-fat muffin has 410.
Still, the adoption of gluten-free as a lifestyle trend is impossible to ignore.
Dunkin’ Donuts said that they are already selling the gluten-free pastries at locations in Hartford, Conn. There is no word on when the gluten-free pastries would go nationwide this year.