Celiac disease is on the rise in the United States; incidences of the illness have doubled every 15 years since 1974. In fact, celiac disease reportedly affects every 1 in 133 people in the United States, with additional numbers of people reporting sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. However, Dunkin' Donuts does not appear to let this growing trend get in their way of their business. The company appears to be launching a line of gluten-free foods.
Dunkin' Donuts, the largest coffee-by-cup retailer in the United States, is reportedly launching a line of gluten-free donut products. Because individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are enormously susceptible to contamination, the items will be sold in individually wrapped bags. However, for those curious to try a gluten-free donut, the products will likely not be rolled out immediately into your area. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness reports that the retailer wrote via email, "We are currently testing new gluten-free options at select stores in both Florida and Massachusetts, and while they are still in the testing phase we have received very positive feedback on the new products so far. We do not yet have a timeframe for potential national distribution."
The Huffington Post notes that Dunkin' Donuts joins a growing list of fast food restaurants who have added gluten-free items, like Arby's, Chick-Fil-A and Wendy's. The move is certainly a wise strategic one; the gluten-free foods industry has grown 18 percent between 2011 and 2012 alone, totaling over $12 billion in sales.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the body's small intestine, prompted by ingestion of gluten. Researchers are not sure about why the disease is becoming more prevalent, though one theory, called the "hygiene hypothesis", states that humans have become too clean. Symptoms of the illness are often vomiting, bloating and, in adults, anemia and arthritis.
Celiac disease is reportedly both over- and under-diagnosed. Medical Daily previously wrote that 80 percent of consumers who pursue a gluten-free lifestyle have no formal diagnosis. While 1.8 million Americans reportedly have celiac disease, 1.4 million people are unaware.