ITV This Morning slapped with 1k+ Ofcom complaints over 'vile' and 'dismissive' gluten-free food debate

ITV This Morning slapped with 1k+ Ofcom complaints over 'vile' and 'dismissive' gluten-free food debate

WATCH NOW: Vanessa Feltz wades into gluten-free Christmas dinner debate

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 20/12/2023

- 13:43

Updated: 20/12/2023

- 15:49

Broadcaster Vanessa Feltz sparked fury with her comments on the show this week

ITV's This Morning has been slapped with 1,092 complaints to Ofcom following comments made by Vanessa Feltz about coeliac disease.

The presenter joined the show as a guest on December 18 where she was fielding calls from viewers who were asking if they were being unreasonable in certain situations.

One caller named Alison asked how she should deal with the fact her mother-in-law was "forcing" her and her 15-year-old son to dine on a gluten-free Christmas dinner due to a fellow guest having the condition.

Feltz began shaking her head at the suggestion all guests should adhere to the dietary needs of the coeliac-suffering diner before she ranted: "Alison, I'm 100 percent on your side on this one, this is absolutely ridiculous."

Explaining to hosts Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle, Feltz went on: "So Alison's mother-in-law has got them coming for Christmas and because one person has to be gluten-free, she's insisting they all have to be gluten-free including Alison's 15-year-old who's a bit of a fussy eater.

"When Alison said, 'Can we bring our own food then? Can we bring food in a snack box?' (The mother-in-law) said, 'No'. She's treating coeliac disease as if it's a kind of fatal, potentially fatal peanut allergy and that they can't have anything with gluten in the house, which is completely unreasonable.

Vanessa Feltz

Vanessa Feltz spoke to Craig and Josie on Monday's episode


"That is not reasonable Alison at all," Feltz continued before she mused: "The thing is though, if you say to her, 'Look, he can have gluten-free, we don't have to, it's not catching', what will she say? How will she respond?"

The caller responded: "She'll tell me that I'm ignorant of the facts and tell me to read up on it."

Feltz replied: "But you're not and she's wrong! I mean she's just unequivocally wrong about that. Completely wrong.

"So I've been really thinking about this because I think you're 100 percent right... however, it's only one day, it's all about family... so I try to weigh up in my mind should you just put up with it just for the sake of peace and harmony?

"On balance, I think you're pretty much going to have to go with it, have a snack on the way there, bring something to eat in the car on the way home, don't stay too long, but don't fall out with your mother-in-law over a bit of gluten, that's what I think. Or the lack of gluten."

When Gibson interjected to point out cross-contamination could be an issue, Feltz stood firm: "But they don't have to have any cross-contamination, especially if they bring their own food from home and her 15-year-old has what he actually likes which he brings in the snack box, would be perfectly fine.

"But I just think is it worth falling out with her, digging your heels in, making a big mountain out of it when it's only one day, literally pretty much one meal?"

Feltz did caveat what she was saying by suggesting the caller's teenage son's refusal to eat anything gluten-free was "a bit extreme as well".

Soon after the discussion aired, viewers flocked to X, formerly Twitter, to blast Feltz for her "dismissive" attitude towards the illness.

One viewer raged: "Vanessa Feltz makes me so angry treating coeliacs disease like a joke. I have coeliac disease it is not a joke, it's a serious medical condition. I hope next time she's on air on #ThisMorning I expect a f***ing apology not just to me but to all that NEED gluten-free diet!"

A second blasted the show as a whole: "I don’t lay the blame with Vanessa Feltz giving questionable advice about gluten free food during a phone in segment on #ThisMorning - I blame the producers & lack of any research on medical matters for this segment & not providing correct/scientific information, typical ITV."

Meanwhile a third hit out: "#ThisMorning I couldn’t believe yesterday’s program! The misinformation concerning the gluten free buffet during a phone call with Vanessa Feltz was dreadful."

And a fourth fumed: "#ThisMorning Shame on you for trivialising an autoimmune disease that exhausts people on a day to day basis. Apologies are needed asap. What a vile woman." (sic)

The charity Coeliac UK even issued an open letter to ITV expressing its "deep concern" at the "dismissive" advice from Feltz and demanding an apology.

Feltz has since shared an apologetic statement about the ordeal, saying: "I found myself at the centre of a social media storm this week… I said what I said there, but then I added that you should go in the spirit of Christmas and enjoy a gluten-free meal anyway.

"I did not suggest that they put the coeliac in harm's way nor did I intend to show in any shape or form any disrespect to anyone with coeliac disease.

"I am astounded by the reaction and horrified that anyone is upset. I don't think that I said anything wrong but if anyone is upset, I am very sorry.

"All I ever want is clarity and compassion and I am certainly not trying to play down coeliac disease. The last thing I wanted to do was upset anyone and I hope that I have made amends."

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