Subway tests gluten-free sandwiches
January 13th, 2011
01:41 PM ET

Subway tests gluten-free sandwiches

Subway is testing a bun made of egg whites, corn starch and tapioca starches for customers with gluten sensitivities at 700 outlets in Dallas and East Texas.  The sandwich chain is also offering a gluten-free brownie for dessert.  The brownie is made of potato starch, cocoa and sugar.

“Gluten-free is something on the radar,”  said Les Winograd, Subway spokesman.  “There are number of people at Subway who are particularly interested in gluten-free items for their own particular digestive needs. It’s not something that’s unusual to us.”

With Subway exploring a wheat-free alternative, is this a sign that major food chains are paying more attention to gluten sensitivities such as celiac disease?

Scott Adams, founder of celiac.com hopes so.

“Increasingly, restaurants are paying more attention to people with celiac,” he said, also listing Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and P.F. Chang’s.

People with celiac disease, a digestive condition that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food, often have trouble finding food without gluten when eating at restaurants.  To varying degrees, they cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley.

Eating out with celiac disease “used to be hard,” Adams said.  He’d go to a food court and basically stick to white rice and stir fry (without soy sauce – because it contains gluten).

Celiac disease is a common genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 133 people.

“It can be a pain. That’s why these restaurants that offer gluten-free options are great,” Adams said.  “From my perspective, it’s getting easier and easier to eat out, for sure.”

Fast food chains such as Taco BellArby’s and Wendy’s offer lists of allergens.

In January, Subway started testing a gluten-free, deli-style bun that arrives to stores pre-packaged.  The sandwich makers are instructed to use a one-time use knife to prevent cross-contamination with gluten products. The buns are baked at a separate facility.

“Being able to have the option to go into quick service restaurants such as ours gives more people options.  It gives them that feeling that they’re not so limited,” Winograd said.  There are no plans to expand the gluten-free experiment nationwide at this time, he said.

Subway is also testing a diabetes-friendly menu test in the Midwest, opening a few locations in the U.S. that serve kosher menus and serving halal foods in Europe.

soundoff (724 Responses)
  1. Louise

    PLEASE get the GF buns in Fort Lauderdale! I really miss having the BMT!

    January 18, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • elisa

      please bring this to florida and new york. i know SOO many people in these states, including myself, who would be THRILLED to have gluten free options at subway.

      March 13, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      Add Pennsylvania to this please!! I think we ALL need GF options out there!

      April 27, 2012 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
    • Greg Polk

      Please bring the gluten free sandwiches to Mississippi because I have not eaten a Subway sandwich in years because of my celiac. That would be great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 5, 2012 at 21:12 | Report abuse |
  2. Sheri

    I ate at Subway tonight while traveling. While it is safer to eat at home if you are Celiac or have a Gluton allergy (I have both), there are times when something in the scheduling of a large family, that makes it necessary to buy prepared food. How nice that a company would at least explore the option to make a sandwich gluton free. I hope they are able to successfully work out the details to make it work.

    January 20, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JC

    I just had my first Subway sandwich in over 10 years! I cannot believe how good it was. My mom, who does not have to eat gluten free, even loved it. I kept asking my daughter, who brought the sandwich to me as a surprise, if she was sure it is gluten free! I hope this catches on and goes Nationwide. 🙂

    January 21, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sleepinghorse

    I am aware that Subway stores are privately owned, at least in New Zealand antway, so I am guessing that the gluten free options won't necessarily be a worldwide thing. You never know though. Surely as part of the franchise there must be some sharing of ideas and what works and what doesn't. Sounds a great step for we Coeliacs.

    January 23, 2011 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Kay

    However, my concern is more toward the preparation of these new g free fast food items. Is there special utensils, changing of gloves, designated prep areas, for these g free products. Let's face it...we have all seen how Subway prepares their sandwiches...they drag the bread down the line moving their gloved hand from the sandwich to the meats and produce. They would have to have a completely different prep counter with all the same ingedients at it to prevent cross contamination. And if they are indeed "baked fresh" like the other products, are they on different sanitized baking sheets for their ovens.

    I don't entirely trust these establishments that claim to be gluten free, using salad dressing that isn't g free, I now know that a lot of generic frozen veggies list wheat on their allergin list. Are restaurant's watching for this as well.

    Also; have they checked their deli meat to ensure that is g free, the seasoning on the "fresh" (microwaved) meats, the condiments, the sauces...etc etc. Having a gluten free vehicle to get the other foods to your mouth is key only if the contents are g free as well. Otherwise I might as well eat breaded chicken on a g free bun. :-/

    January 25, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephanie

      Kay, the Subway I visited today did exactly what you are concerned about. They did NOT use a special knife to cut the bread, did NOT change gloves, used the same toaster stuff and dragged the sandwich down the same board they do all other sandwiches. I'm going to go over to Subways website and report this. Thankfully my daughter is not that sensitive to gluten even though she has Celiac Disease

      January 29, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • deedee

      I have eaten 3 sandwiches at subway and they have trained and stil are training .
      and its only one person thats handling the gluten free bread,changed the gloves and takes care of you and you only.
      The only concern is that they take the cheeses and condiments from same place but they go down further in the piles as to not hopefully come into contact with "crumbs"I have not gotten ill yet.They have taken great care of me and when you crave a subway its more then filling along with baked lays and a brownie so hooray for the gluten free at subway at least they are trying as unlike fast food at McDonalds with the nasty foods and big macs!

      February 2, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Kay, my experience was positive. They wiped the board, fixed the sandwich on a fresh sheet of paper. The knife came out of plastic and was discarded after one use.
      Yes, there was a photocopied 'gluten free' menu. So they have identified what deli meats are/are not gluten free.
      I do agree that for those with severe sensitivities, cross contamination in the veggies and cheese might still occur.
      The bun was really good!


      April 14, 2011 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
  6. Penopolis

    I just tried the gluten free bread at Subway. It had a nice texture and was really tasty.

    January 26, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Penopolis

    Kay, in answer to your question, yes there is a special process, including changing gloves a couple of times, using a different knife to cut the bread, etc., to prepare the sandwich. BUT I do not have celiac disease so I was not as concerned about cross contamination as someone with the disease would be.

    January 26, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • deedee

      Celiac Disease is not fun and its more widespread then ever so to those of you who can eat anything anytime anywhere,Im happy that Subways trying this as Its like being diabetic and not ever having sugar again! These "people" that dont understand Celiac,maybe should google the disease and all the problems that goe with it! Bravo to subway! But keep it going and try in other states,i have a sister and brother and 2 neices with this awful illness! Thanks to the restaurants for going gluten free!

      February 2, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
  8. LoLzgirl

    I would suggest visiting http://www.liveglutenfreely.com It is a great website that list recipes and has a list of over 300 gluten free products.

    January 28, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Stephanie

    My daughter tried one of these sandwiches today and LOVED it. However the store I visited in Richardson off Arapaho, did NOT use a one time use knife, laid her sandwich on the same surface he lalid other sadwiches AND used the same toaster and toaster rack he used with other sandwiches. THANKFULLY he made her sandwich BEFORE my 6 inch on Wheat. Those that are more sensitive to Gluten need to MAKE SURE they follow policy.

    January 29, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Nate

    My girlfriend is a Celiac and we have been discussing this new trend and we think it is a terrible idea. For some it may be great those who are slightly tolerant and can handle some cross contamination but she cannot handle even the tiniest crumb or bread. Subway is a fast food restaurant where they make sandwiches. The clerks may not realize how bad some people may be and cross contamination is likely to happen or even if something is not cleaned properly. They have one time use knives but what about the toaster oven? The tray they use to put it in the oven? The vegetables, they dont change gloves between touching the bread and the veggies some meats would be fine but there would be a limited selection and may have the same problem as the veggies. It would be nearly impossible to make a 100% gluten free sandwich in a fast-food restaurant who specializes in subs. For this reason we don't eat out anywhere ever. We cannot trust anyone to be as careful as needed to be able to make a meal that is completely 100% gluten free.

    February 4, 2011 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Connor Amsden

      well thats alright for you... but the rest of us want it. You don't have to eat there!

      March 15, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  11. ashley

    Subway is one of my favorite restaurants, until I found out I was allergic to gluten back in 2000. I am not too sensitive that if you placed a piece of bread on the same cutting board as a regular piece I would get sick–i just need gluten free bread..
    PLEASE SUBWAY!–bring this to VA and NC!!!!!!

    February 4, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Crass1964

    Subway, great idea. I would be one of the first inline to get a subway gluten free sandwich. Haven't had subway in 3 years. Subway gluten free, San Diego. please make it happen.

    February 13, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Anita

    I'm happy to say that I tried it (one in Denton, TX) and I did not get sick! They were very careful! I encourage everybody who can to go try it! I was so nervous that I actually cried, but it was totally worth it, because now I will have a fast food restaurant i can go to, which is amazing, esp. for a college student like myself! Thank you so much Subway! 🙂

    February 26, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Celeste

    I am really excited about this and i would love for it to come to Utah, I am pregnant with my third child and this is the first pregnancy that I have known i have Celiac so it has been very hard because i have been craving Subway it has always been one of my favorite places to go. When i heard about Subway offering Gluten Free I was so excited and i really want it to make it to Utah I would be going a lot again like i use to. Please Subway Gluten free come to Utah!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Connor Amsden

    I really hope this goes national, or at least to upstate NY. I can name ten people, including myself with celiac who would buy this in a heartbeat. PLEASE SUBWAY! I MISS YOUR SUBS!

    March 15, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kyra

    Ok, peeps, gf Subways: the trick is to get it toasted. Otherwise, tastes like hard, dry, nasty gf bread. Even if heated in microwave, get it TOASTED. Tastes like a real subway, that way. The lady in DeSoto did everything right to avoid cc: finished the sandwich she was working on, washed hands, changed gloves, pulled out a clean paper to work on, used and then discarded a new single-use disposable knife... Bravo!!

    March 18, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Kyra

    Another fast food option: Chipotles. Everything but the flour tortillas are gf

    March 18, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Leslie - houston texas

    I just enjoyed my firstN of hopefully many, gluten free sandwiches from Subway while visiting family in Carrollton, Tx. What a thrill – I have has Celiac for 12 years and thought I would never enjoy a sub again. Its' fabulous!

    March 20, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. KageNoKarasu

    Oh my good golly gosh!!!!!!!!!
    I am so excited for this!!!!
    I MISS MISS MISS eating at subway! (and sandwiches in general, sometimes, lol)

    March 31, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Hi I just wanted to introduce you to our Gluten Free Facility where we have built a community for those needing to stick to a strict Gluten Free Diet. Please stop by our new website and learn about our new delivery service and Gluten Free Products. Also join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-Food-Sciences/139484299446760

    April 19, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Judith

    Are there any Subways in the San Fernando Valley that have these G-F products? 99% of all corn, one of the ingredients, is GMOd. How much sugar do they add? Thanks, Judith

    May 21, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Ann Gennaro

    PLEASE! PLEASE! Get the word out that Subway is doing a trial test of a GF option! WHO KNEW? I accidentally came across this information. As I live in Fl., we are unaware of the testing markets. Please continue with your marketing campaign and expand your testing. However, one concern is also the deli meat used- is that also GF? We appreciate that this option is being considered- thanks for the effort required. We automaticaaly pass any Subway as I would never have imagined that as a option. Eating out is difficult if you are with family that needs a quick lunch to continue the day's activities and celiacs choices to eat out do not accomodate that need. Continue your efforts-on behalf ao all celiacs- Anita

    July 4, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. lois

    I think it is wonderful that the larger manufacturers and chains are getting on the bandwagon at last.

    July 12, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Donna

    Yay!!! Thanks, I love Subway! Please introduce in the west TN area!

    July 13, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Lexie

    OMG I hope they get this in Seattle! I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy over two years ago. I had no idea that eating wheat was the cause of 99% of my health issues. If I eat *anything* with even the slightest trace of gluten in it, I will start coughing, choking, and gagging within about 5-10 minutes and it doesn't stop for almost a half hour (and often it will make me sick to my stomach!!!). Eating out is always scary and taking a gamble–this would be SUCH a relief, as we all know how bad it SUCKS to try and go out anywhere for the day, not knowing if you can find a safe place to eat or not–my purse is always full of GF snacks 'just in case' I can't find anything to eat anywhere, I'm always bringing my own food to parties and dinners.....this would make the world just that much easier to live in. =D

    July 28, 2011 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Name*kent

    Hey I love subway when I want something healthy and quick, you cant beat it especially with there five dollar foot long. If your in manhattan on 7th ave and 24th st Do Not Go to that one. The guys that work in there just robbed me for $2.50. It's not the money but the principal. When I asked for the receipt I noticed that they over charged me and instead of just doing the wright thing they started telling some B.S. why they charged me r$9.25 for just a sandwich when I know it should have been $7.35 because I always get the same thing. It would also be nice if they spoke english and had all the condiments that I like.

    Very disappointed with subway I will never go back to the location again and my boy was very disappointed also.

    July 31, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Name*kent


    July 31, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Andrea A

    Please bring gluten free to western washington!!!7

    August 17, 2011 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      DIDO Andrea. Western Washington needs gluten free options at its subways!!! Subway needs to keep up with many other restaurants in the area that offer gluten free menus. I would start eating at Subway again if they implemented this change.

      August 24, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jonnelle

      To Eastern Washington too 🙂

      October 3, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  29. Daniel S

    Please bring gluten free options to Seattle area Subway's!

    August 24, 2011 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Rebecca D

    Atlanta is in dire need of gluten free options. Subway used to be my standby before I was diagnosed with Celiac. It's comforting to think there is a place you can go to outside your own home that you can get something other than a salad that doesn't fill you up. With the increasing awareness of the disease more children are being diagnosed and they need a fast food alternative too. I'm sure you'll work out all the kinks!

    September 6, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rkauffee

    As soon as i figured out i had celiac disease they came out with the five dollar footlong. I havn't had a decent piece of bread since. Now i crave a subway sandwich.

    September 12, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. cmsmom26

    Subway is one of our favorites and I haven't been able to enjoy it in over 3 years now!!! Everytime I drive by one, I get so sad. How excitig to have a gluten free option there! Now will the vegges be on a separate line as well? I have gotten sick from veggies used for regular sandwiches due to cross contamination. I REALLY hope they consider that as well!

    October 5, 2011 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Doulawendy

    I am gluten free and yay on the offering of prewrapped subs. But I have a son that is gluten free and dairy free and it is difficult to get any information on other ingredients to find out if my son can also eat it.

    October 29, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Ashley

    I was skeptical at first, but I know others with more sensitivities than mine that love the Subway rolls and brownies. I tried one today, and it was like I was eating real bread. It wasn't hard, dry, or anything. It had the consistency of a dense croissant to me.

    I know that others have a more serious variation than another, but we take those thoughts into account when we make decisions every day. If the companies want to try to help accommodate, then bravo for them. It makes life just a tad bit easier for the majority, especially if they follow through with their training.

    November 29, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Fran

    My daughter has Celiac Disease and my husband is gluten sensitive. If these items come to the Subway stores in New England, (Massachusetts in particular), we would all be thrilled. Cross contamination is the biggest concern for someone with Celiac Disease when it comes to restaurant food.

    February 1, 2012 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
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  38. felicitysglutenfreehandbook

    Celiac disease is really very dangerous as the immune system is directly affected and the small intestine may also get blocked. Subway is taking care of people in this concern by providing gluten free recipes

    free foods.

    thanks and regards.

    April 16, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Gluten Free Days

    Has there been any advancement to Subway doing this is Colorado yet?

    May 14, 2012 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sandy

      Why is it taking so long to get Gluten free rolls at ALL subways?? Many resturants in MASS already have them.

      August 15, 2012 at 07:47 | Report abuse |
  40. Frank Miller

    Help, put Nebraska on the soon to be testing state, we need you!

    May 20, 2012 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Georgia

    I sang the song "Im so excited and I just can't hide It" I have fibromylgia and have a boat load of food allergies which means lots of painful temptations.. but not life threaten... I can have the sandwich but not the brownie because cant have any Potato products 🙁 Luckly I would take a meal over sweets anytime... "Im about to lose control and I think I like It" Oh Yeah! I will be having my first sandwith in my hands in about 5mins...

    June 24, 2012 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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  48. MOTHERofAceliac

    My son has celiac disease and as a university student it is really difficult finding a place to lunch and to go out with his friends and eat at a fast or full service restaurant. Efforts should be made to create fast and full service restaurants which only serve gluten free items avoiding the cross-contamination. If subways is attempting to establish the gluten-free sandwiches, the restaurant should have to different aisle, one for wheat containing food and another for gluten free. It is important that the employees take a workshop/course on food handling. It is also important to acknowledge them on the dangers a tiny drop of gluten can cause to a celiac person. EDUCATION AND AWARENESS ARE THE CLUE.

    As for me, I am informing every restaurant I go to about celiac disease.

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