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My Current Gluten-Free Thoughts...
There are a lot of things on my mind these days pertaining to the gluten-free diet. Please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts or comment on mine. Currently I am thinking about the following...
Sending my best to the family of David Marc Fischer
The celiac community recently learned of the sudden passing of David Marc Fischer. I did not have the opportunity to meet David in person but communicated with him via email and phone. What impressed me most about David was his sincerity and genuine desire to understand other people's experiences, especially when they differed from his own. Thank you, David for your service to the celiac disease community. Your voice will be missed.
Wishing we could all work together
There has been a recent discussion on the celiac disease listserv regarding the ever-increasing gluten-free food certification programs run by various national organizations. Beth Armour, Co-President of Cream Hill Estates (manufacturer of gluten-free oats) sums up what many of us are feeling when she writes in a recent listserv post (included here with Beth's permission),
"How many symbols / logos / programs do we need to indicate that a product is gluten-free? Currently there are at least 4 in North America that our company could apply for and put on our product - is that helping or hindering the consumer reading the label? Which one do we choose, which one has more meaning for the consumer? Are we undermining consumer confidence in all support organizations by having competing symbols / logos? For each program there are also costs to the gluten-free food producer for the right to use these symbols / logos on their label. The reality is these costs are usually passed along to the consumer in the price of the gluten-free product. The more symbols / logos the more costs added to the product price.
Are we really working in the best interest of our consumers who require a gluten-free food product? At a time when gluten-free labeling standards in North America may finally be aligning (i.e. <20ppm) and gluten testing is getting better, don't we have the opportunity and the means to develop a
single identifiable standard? Too bad we can't work together and have one symbol / logo, recognized by all, which would make things a lot easier for the consumer and the gluten-free food producer. We should agree on what we can agree on and move on to the work of helping our celiac community."
Beth, I couldn't agree with you more!
Worrying about cross contamination of naturally gluten-free grains
I strongly advise everyone who follows a gluten-free diet to eat only those naturally gluten-free grains and flours that are labeled gluten free. Keep in mind that the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act covers ingredients only. It does not cover substances (e.g., wheat) that may be in a product due to contamination. This is why you generally don't see the word "wheat" on packaged oat products even though we know many commercial varieties are contaminated with wheat (as well as barley.)
Loving Zeer Select
I am on the medical advisory board and a compensated consultant to a great new service for the gluten-free community. Zeer Select provides the gluten-free status of over 30,000 food products found in grocery stores (with 500 products added or updated weekly). Each product page includes gluten-free status-labeled gluten-free, appears to be gluten free based on ingredients, may contain gluten, and contains gluten, as well as an ingredients list, any allergen advisory statement, and the Nutrition Facts label. To take a free tour of the site go to www.zeer.com and click on "learn more" in the center of the page. Then click on "take a tour."
Shaking my head over a publisher
The contract negotiation phase was almost complete for one of my latest book projects (Gluten-Free Vegetarian Eating). The only thing left to do was sign on the dotted line. BUT then I was sent mock-ups of book covers. On the cover of one was a wheat field focusing in on one stalk of wheat. Keep in mind there was no gigantic X through the picture just this tranquil scene. And this is a book about gluten-free vegetarian eating! In my opinion, this is like putting a picture of a side of beef on the cover (it also is a vegetarian book)--can you imagine?! I am now in search of a new publisher. If you know of anyone interested in publishing a great book on gluten-free vegetarian diets that includes vegan recipes, please let me know.
Follow me on Twitter where I will be posting weekly links to my Living Gluten-Free blog! www.twitter.com/triciathompson. You can also learn more at www.glutenfreedietitian.com.
Tricia Thompson, M.S., RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill) and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Eating (Penguin Group).