Outrageous price gouging and iffy labeling of gluten-free food.

I really don’t get why people jump on fad diet bandwagons. The gluten-free diet is necessary for about 1% to possibly 2.4% of the population. Of that 2.4%, 72% do not have celiac disease. Several sources would indicate that up to 25% of the population eats gluten-free some of the time.  Why?  Gluten-free is not a weight loss diet, it is not cheap, it is not healthy (it lacks fiber and necessary nutrients). These fad followers have made a joke out of my medically necessary diet.

Restaurants don’t take us seriously when we ask about cross-contact/cross-contamination.  Manufactures are slapping “Gluten-Free” labeling on all sorts of products and then in tiny, itty bitty fine print, hidden somewhere on the packaging they add the clause: “manufactured in a facility, or on equipment that uses wheat”. This disqualifies their product as being safe for a sensitive individual with Celiac disease or at least confuses the heck out of us, wondering if it is or is it not safe for us to consume.

Please give me back my gluten-free food medical prescription. 

Here are two label examples seen this week.  My go-to flour substitute has doubled in price over the last 5 years. One pound of my gluten-free flour costs $4.  The equivalent wheat-based flour can be purchased at a cost of $0.25 per pound.  Gluten-free flour is 176% more expensive than wheat flour. 

Here’s an example of a product I got excited to see labeled gluten-free at Costco this week.  I love potato salad but don’t always think far enough ahead to make it.  One, I need the raw ingredients on hand and second I need to prepare, cook and cool the potatoes well before I wish to assemble the salad, and then there’s the cleanup. As you can see, this San Francisco potato salad is clearly labeled on the front as gluten-free.  How many times have I bought a gluten-free labeled product, only to discover later that there is some fine print disclosing that it really maybe isn’t truly gluten-free? 

I had hope that when the FDA passed the new labeling law in 2014, it would have cleared things up. That was the goal at least. I keep hearing about too many products being recalled under the labeling law and I can’t find anything about that little itty bitty disclaimer “processed on equipment or facility with wheat”.  What does that mean to a Celiac?  

 

Gluten Lesson Learned AGAIN!

Lesson Learned AGAIN!  I should be blogging about my vacation but here it goes again….

Gluten? Is it hiding in that prepackaged Tri-tip sold at Costco?  The ingredient list looks fine. But the packaging doesn’t say anything about allergens.  Ok, google the product name and gluten free.  Nope, don’t come up with anything. Hmm, there’s a phone number on the package. Ok, I’ll call.  The person on the other end of the line, says, “I’m pretty sure it’s fine, it’s gluten free. But let me check and call you back”.  (This is a local distributor in Huntington Park, California)

This whole Tri-tip issue came up because on our recent travels we stopped to visit some friends who wanted to feed us/me.  They tossed a prepackaged Tri-tip from their Costco in Medford, Oregon onto the grill. The brand sold in Oregon is pre-packaged but WAS labeled Gluten Free.  Unfortunately, after inquiring about cross contamination, I knew I could not eat their offerings.  They have heated wheat rolls on their bbq and clearly they have gluten food products in their kitchen.  I’m really getting tired of trying to explain to kind friends why I can not eat their offerings.  NO, pouring boiling water over your cutting knives and utensils DOES NOT MAKE THEM GLUTEN FREE. Maybe washing several times and scrubbing with a never before used scrubber would work. I don’t really know how to make something gluten free except to NEVER expose it to gluten.

I had not realized until today that meat products are exempt from the labeling law.  What the HELL?

Food Labeling Requirements: On August 2, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a new regulation defining the term “glutenfree” for voluntary food labeling. This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” foods regulated by the FDA. Foods regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including meat and egg products, are not subject to this regulation. The regulation requires that any food with the term “gluten-free” on the label must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food should contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten. The FDA rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”

Well, I finally decided while walking around Costco while waiting for phone confirmation if the Tri-tip in my cart was safe, to not buy it.  I wouldn’t receive the confirmation phone call until much later, after I had left the store.

The answer from the company, the certified Angus Beef, Steakhouse Beef Tri-Tip from American BBQ Company distributed by www.GWFG.com is not gluten free.

Once again, an excellent reminder of why I should NEVER eat other people’s food unless they are also Celiac and their kitchen is 100% gluten free.

I was a bit extra cautious this time because recently I had once again slipped up on my diligence of being safe.

I hadn’t been to a Starbucks in years except to purchase a bottled by Coke Cola Starbucks Mocha Frapuccino, which are certified gluten free.  It had been my birthday the day before and I still get those kind emails from Starbucks saying I could get a free drink “on them” for my birthday.  We were traveling and had a very early start.  I was sleepy.  I had a free drink gift certificate.  I goofed up.  I stopped at a Starbucks and redeemed my free birthday coffee certificate.  I splurged.  I got a vanilla latte.

Oh no!  That’s right, Starbucks coffee’s are NOT GLUTEN FREE.  NO PREPARED DRINKS CAN BE GUARANTEED GF AT STARBUCKS. Repeat to self, Starbucks coffee’s are NOT GLUTEN FREE.  Not even a plain regular cup of coffee.

In about thirty minutes after thoroughly enjoying my vanilla latte my stomach began to feel a little off.  Hmmm……  google Starbucks again and gluten free.

Damn, the mix Starbuck’s uses for the vanilla flavor contains gluten.  Oh, and a reminder, ALL of Starbucks teas contain gluten.  Yes, you read that right.

Lesson learned.  Lesson learned until I forget AGAIN!