On a billboard in the east end of St. John’s, the line in big letters opposite a shot of the product says “not gluten free.”
The tag below it right next to the company logo is “Treat yourself.”
If all you know about gluten is the current bullshit diet fad based on junk science, then you might think this is a clever ad.
But for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with celiac disease, there’s no treat in eating food with gluten.
The protein found in wheat, triticale, and barley helps bind food together and prevent it from crumbling.
For people with celiac disease, gluten damages their small intestines, making it difficult for their bodies to absorb the nutrients we all need. Malnutrition and weight loss, fatigue, cramps, and bloating are all symptoms of celiac disease.
According to the Canadian Celiac Association one in every 133 Canadians has celiac disease. That works out to about 4,000 people in this province.
The fads diets have been a mixed experience for people like your humble e-scribbler’s daughter. She was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 18 months. On the one hand, she has access to a wider variety of manufactured food products, including pizza, as a result of the diet craze. On the other hand, she also has had to endure the comments of well-intentioned but misguided people who lecture her on the stupidity of fad diets when she asks about gluten in food.
People with celiac disease aren’t in Purity Factories target market for their baked goods. That’s obvious. The company does have an interest in marketing their other gluten-free products to them, though. If that wasn’t enough, manufacturers like Purity Factories have a social responsibility not to encourage misinformation.
Purity Factories and their advertising agency failed with this particular billboard ad.
They should ditch it.
4,000 customers and their families could make a big difference for a small manufacturer in a small market.