Have you made your Halloween dinner plans, yet? How about picking up a gluten-free pizza? If you haven’t heard, yet, Papa Murphy’s take ‘n bake pizza locations are now offering Gluten-Free Pizza. The company has teamed up with Udi’s to provide gluten-free crusts to their customers.
I was contacted and requested to try Papa Murphy’s new gluten-free pizza and report on our experience. My first response was, “Gluten-Free Pizza? Yes!” My second response was, “Wait, what about cross-contamination?” So, armed with a gift card for pizza and questions about cross-contamination, I searched out a Papa Murphy’s location to give it a try.
If you aren’t familiar with Papa Murphy’s, they are a take-and-bake business. In other words, you tell them the crust, sauce and toppings you want on a pizza. They assemble the pizza ingredients on site, where you can see them working, and wrap it up for you. You take the pizza home, unwrap the pizza, and bake it in your own oven so it’s hot and fresh.
I went to Papa Murphy’s on a typical weeknight to see how they would handle the gluten-free pizzas. It was a busy evening with several customers ordering regular gluten-containing pizzas. When we placed our order, we were first told that there is only one size — medium. Not a problem. Then I asked the hard question, “What about cross-contamination?” The young man behind the register said that they are trained to do their best to limit the risk of cross-contamination, but that they can not guarantee that it would be 100% gluten-free due to being prepared in a shared facility. He continued to tell me that the pizza crusts are kept in a separate area, and that the pizza would be prepared with freshly changed, clean gloves. So, we continued with the order.
I was disappointed, but not surprised to find out that they don’t carry a dairy-free cheese. I ordered one gluten-free pizza with lots of fresh ingredients, and one gluten-free pizza with sauce and pepperoni on the side. (I added the pepperoni they provided me and my own Daiya cheese at home before baking.) Because of the way Papa Murphy’s is set up, I was able to watch all the preparation of the pizzas. Every pizza crust, gluten-free or not, is on a tray. So, the pizza crust comes out on a tray, and goes down the assembly line. One person, with fresh gloves prepares the pizza with fresh ingredients. The pizza is then wrapped in plastic wrap and given to me to take home and bake.
The biggest risk of cross-contamination I saw was that the ingredients for all pizzas came out of the same toppings containers. It is possible that someone preparing a gluten-containing crust touched the crust and then transferred gluten into the toppings containers. The risk of that is somewhat limited by the fact that the crusts are all on disposable baking trays, and the actual touching of the crusts is limited to possibly touching the edge of a pizza. I would be more concerned about dairy cross-contaimination than that of gluten or wheat. My family felt that the risk on that night was somewhat minimal, or at least no more than eating out at a restaurant that isn’t 100% gluten-free.
We took the pizzas home, baked them, and enjoyed them. They are Udi’s pizza crusts, which are thin crusts. The size is larger than the Udi’s crusts you can buy in the freezer section of your grocery store. Baking instructions called for 15 minutes at 500º. The pizzas both turned out very good. My plain pepperoni and Daiya cheese pizza was not as exciting as the one loaded up with Papa Murphy’s fresh toppings. But, it was still good. And, the good news is that no one got sick from gluten (or dairy).
Would we buy a gluten-free pizza at a Papa Murphy’s location again? Yes, but probably only occasionally. The time it took me to pick up the pizza, take it home and add my own toppings, and then bake it, was no less than it would take me to prepare my own pizzas with Udi’s frozen crusts at home. More convenient perhaps, but not a real time saver for me. The benefit of going to Papa Murphy’s is the wide selection of toppings. (Be sure to check their Allergen Guide before choosing your toppings.) Papa Murphy’s would also be a good option when traveling and visiting with friends and family.
My recommendation if you want to try Papa Murphy’s gluten-free pizza. For the first time, I would suggest going early in the day when it isn’t quite so busy. The toppings containers will be freshly filled, and less likely to have gluten from cross-contamination. There will also be fewer gluten-containing pizzas being prepared at the same time. Besides limiting the cross-conatimination, it also gives the staff an opportunity to take their time and be more cautious. Be sure to talk to the staff, preferably the person preparing your pizza, and tell them about your sensitivity to gluten. Make sure they change their gloves, and watch them as they prepare your pizza. We felt good about the process. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the looks of the preparation area, you may want to ask the staff if they have fresh toppings in the back that are less likely to have been contaminated. If you still aren’t satisfied, leave without the pizza. It’s always better to be safe than sick. If you were satisfied with the preparation, then you should feel good about the fact that it’s being baked in your own oven, and not one that is being shared with other gluten-containing pizzas.
**CeliacFamily was sent a pizza set and a gift card for Papa Murphy’s pizza as an invitation to try the gluten-free pizza and share our experience with our CeliacFamily.com readers. Feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions on it in the comment section below.