The Disney Channel has pulled an episode of the series "Jessie" because of outrage over a few jokes about a character with a gluten-free diet (video below).
According to the Daily Mail, during the May 17 episode of "Jessie," the character "Stuart Wooten" said he couldn't eat plain flour pancakes because he was on a gluten-free diet.
In response, some of the other characters teased him.
That was enough for mother-of-two Amy Raslevich to launch a Change.org petition calling for Disney to "stop bullying gluten-intolerant characters."
The Change.org petition to protect fictional characters from gluten-free diet jokes received 2,137 signatures, many from angry moms.
On her Change.org petition, Raslevich wrote: "In the 'Jessie' episode, a young boy was said to require a gluten-free diet. The other characters snickered at this requirement, and in fact threw a pancake at the child, which could have actually triggered a severe skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis."
However, the "Jessie" episode did not say if the character had a medical condition that required a gluten-free diet.
According to research published by Arizona State University professor Glenn Gaesser in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gluten-free diets may be becoming a harmful fad, reported Western Farm Press.
“The market for gluten-free products is expected to reach $2.6 billion in 2012, and it’s an industry based on a false premise,” said Gaesser. “It’s become such a popular notion that if you Google ‘gluten-free diet’ you’ll get more than 4.2 million results. Celebrities endorse it, and there are hundreds of books being published on it."
“But the only reason you would lose weight is that you’re cutting calories. It probably won’t hurt you to go gluten-free. However, there are indications that gluten may contribute to blood pressure control and immune function, and may create a healthy composition of colon bacteria.”
The study did admit that people who have celiac disease and gluten sensitivity should avoid foods containing gluten to avoid cramping, bloating and diarrhea.
In response to the Change.org petition, the Disney Channel stated on its Facebook page on Friday: "To our viewers, we received your feedback about tonight's 'Jessie' episode, which some of you accessed early on Video-on-Demand."
"We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character's diet. Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family. We value your feedback and thank you for watching Disney Channel."
Sources: Western Farm Press, Daily Mail, Change.org