Earlier this week, Vanessa joined guest hosts Craig Doyle and Josie Gibson for an advice phone-in, in which one caller revealed she was concerned about having Christmas dinner at her mother-in-law’s, as she was serving up a gluten-free meal.
Vanessa described the situation as “absolutely ridiculous”, noting that the guests at the Christmas dinner included a teenager who is a particularly “fussy eater”, and that no one had been allowed to bring food of their own along with them by the host.
“She’s treating coeliac disease as if it’s a kind of potentially fatal peanut allergy, and that they can’t have anything with gluten in the house, which is completely unreasonable,” Vanessa said.
The presenter then concluded: “I think, on balance, 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. Or the lack of gluten.”
Vanessa was met with widespread criticism over some of the comments she made about the health condition, including from the charity Coeliac UK.
“We are deeply concerned about the content and advice given to a caller attending a Christmas family event where all of the food will be gluten free to protect the health of a person with coeliac disease,” they said, noting that they are “actively following up with ITV”.
Vanessa then addressed the situation during an appearance on TalkTV the following day.
Reacting to the “social media storm”, the former Celebrity Big Brother star pointed out: “[In the clip], 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 of form any disrespect to any one with coeliac disease.”
“I am astounded by the reaction and horrified that anyone is upset.”
Vanessa then insisted she still doesn’t “think that I said anything wrong”, but added: “If anyone is upset, then 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.”
Meanwhile, This Morning addressed the situation during Tuesday’s show, including a discussion about coeliac disease during the regular Ask A GP segment.