Vanessa Feltz’s statements on This Morning concerning celiac disease elicited over a thousand more complaints, bringing the total to over 2,000.
During an episode of the ITV show on December 18, the TV host stated it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ for a caller’s mother-in-law not to allow them to bring their own food to a gluten-free Christmas dinner.
According to an Ofcom report issued on December 20, the remarks initially drew 1,092 complaints, making it the tenth most-complained-about programming in 2023.
The media watchdog said on January 3 that another 1,177 complaints had been received, bringing the total to 2,269.
This pushed the show to fifth place in terms of complaints last year, barely behind a debate on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show regarding the junior doctors’ wage dispute, which came in fourth with 2,302 complaints.
During a feature on This Morning, First Dates star Feltz said that a caller requested their mother-in-law if they could bring their own food to the Christmas lunch, which was gluten-free owing to a visitor suffering from celiac disease.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a ‘condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten’, the NHS explains, which causes damage to the gut.
Gluten is found in three types of cereal – wheat, barley and rye – and is therefore found in foods including pasta, cereals and most breads.
Symptoms of coeliac disease can include stomach ache, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea.
When a person has coeliac disease, their immune system ‘mistakes substances found inside gluten as a threat to the body and attacks them’, which damages the surface of the small bowel and ‘disrupts the body’s ability to take in nutrients from food’.
In response to the caller being told not to bring anything, Feltz said: ‘So she’s treating coeliac disease as if it’s a potentially fatal peanut allergy and they can’t have anything with gluten in the house which is completely unreasonable.’
Feltz, 61, later apologised on her TalkTV show for the comments, saying ‘if anyone misunderstood or felt that I did, I am very sorry’.
She displayed a clip of herself making the statements before debating them with Dr Saleyha Ahsan and a viewer called Jason, who has celiac disease, on her show.
Feltz recalled: ‘I said what I said there, and then I said, but I’ve been thinking about it, and in the spirit of Christmas I think you should go, I think you should eat the gluten-free meal that your mother-in-law is kindly preparing.’
Feltz continued: ‘I did not, nor would I for a second, suggest that they should put the coeliac guest at risk in any way, nor did I suggest that they bring their own food and shove it in their mother-in-law’s oven or put it on the table, I wouldn’t dream of that.
‘And nor did I intend in any shape of form to show any disrespect or misunderstanding of how unpleasant it can be leading your life as a coeliac, partly because some of my best friends are coeliacs…
‘So I know how horrible it is as a coeliac if, by any mistake, you should find yourself eating something with gluten in it.
‘I am astounded by the reaction and horrified that anyone’s upset, I would never want to upset anyone.’
She claimed she checked her language before and after the show with professionals, adding: ‘I don’t think I said anything wrong, but if anyone misunderstood or felt that I did, I am very sorry.’
This Morning followed up the story on December 19 by delving more into celiac disease and cross-contamination.
Viewers were outraged that ITV did not apologise for the programme, with several also pointing out that there appeared to be even more misinformation being circulated about the ailment, with 92 complaints logged referring to Dr Zoe Williams’ statements regarding the matter.
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV1.
Source My Celebrity Life.