Welcome to Monday, Honey Bunch!
So happy to have you here with me today. It’s going to be an excellent gluten free week.
First, I want to remind you about my gluten free foodie giveaway from Taste Guru. Visit THIS PAGE to learn about the giveaway and how to enter.
The giveaway ends Midnight tomorrow (Tuesday, February 12). One winner will be selected at random from all entries and announced Wednesday, February 13 in the “Daily Gluten Free Fix”. Good luck!
After you enter the giveaway, I encourage you to subscribe to “Food Solutions”, my print-only ad-free magazine about gluten free living, health and nutrition.
By subscribing, in addition to receiving the best information available on the issues that matter most to those of us who must live gluten free, you’re also supporting my work and allowing me to continue providing the “Daily Gluten Free Fix”, superb gluten free recipes, useful YouTube cooking videos and more…absolutely FREE to the gluten free community!
Were it not for you, I could not continue to offer free content. Thank you to those who currently subscribe and welcome to all my new subscribers!
You’re going to love our March issue, with its focus on spring and exceptional recipes you don’t want to miss! (HINT: A simple gluten free homemade “quick mix” you can use just like the over-priced Gluten Free Bisquick from Betty Crocker is worth far more than the subscription price of “Food Solutions”!)
Now, let’s talk about that food label you see up top.
See that “No Gluten Ingredients Used” symbol?
It can be misleading to consumers in need of gluten free foods. In fact, it may even be fair to say the “No Gluten Ingredients Used” symbol on a product label can be harmful to some individuals who must adhere to a strict gluten free diet.
For those of us who have been gluten free for some time, let’s remember the learning curve we all faced when we first gave up gluten.
An “official-looking” symbol stating no gluten ingredients on a food item may provide enough assurance to keep us from carefully reading the label.
In the case of the label above, that could be a disaster.
That’s because those Trader Joe’s tortilla chips, while they contain no gluten ingredients, are processed on shared equipment with wheat.
For those of us particularly sensitive to even small amounts of gluten, that sort of cross-contamination could be enough to trigger a reaction.
So, if a label like that can be so misleading, why do manufacturers use it?
Manufacturers Get Creative in lieu of Gluten Free Food Labeling in the US
Due to the lack of federal guidelines defining and regulating the meaning of “gluten free”, food manufacturers are able to define the term however they choose on their products as long as it is not outright misrepresentation of ingredients.
“No Gluten Ingredients Used” on the Trader Joe’s tortilla chips label is technically correct – no gluten ingredients there; however, displaying such a label on the package of a food “made on shared equipment with wheat” is careless and indicates a lack of concern for the gluten free consumer. For anyone with Celiac disease or a related health issue, products like this should be avoided.
As we, the gluten free community, await labeling laws for gluten in our food supply, we must continue to be diligent about careful label reading.
To help us steer clear of sneaky gluten in the packaged foods we purchase, the following tips come in handy.
3 Useful Tips for Successful Gluten Free Shopping
1. Become familiar with three gluten free certification organizations and their logos.
Although voluntary, three organizations have created rigid guidelines for companies who wish to have their products certified gluten free.
Read my article, “Gluten Free Certification…Three Ways“, to learn about all three groups and how products are tested and certified before they can receive the gluten free seal of approval. You’ll also find logo images for each one so you’ll be able to locate those on product labels easily the next time you shop.
2. Understand what “No Gluten Ingredients Used” means.
Unlike gluten free certified products, those labeled as including no gluten ingredients are typically not tested for gluten. That means, just like our example above, trace amounts of gluten from shared equipment or other manufacturing practices may be in those foods.
Products labeled this way may not be strictly and consistently prepared to maintain the proposed standard of less than 20 parts per million gluten.
Always be sure to pay attention to allergen warnings indicating cross-contamination.
3. Avoid products with unclear or non-existent information.
Even when a food is naturally gluten free and seems it should be safe for us to consume, it may be contaminated with gluten and lack labeling to that effect.
A great example of such a food is popcorn.
If you were with me last June, you may recall one of our Gluten Free Gigi family members, Basma, sharing her story of being gluten contaminated by a popular brand-name popcorn. I investigated the product and the manufacturing company’s practices, and found it was not surprising at all that Basma ingested gluten unknowingly when eating her popcorn.
For this story and useful information on common ways gluten makes its way into packaged foods, read my article, “You’re Not Really Gluten Free“.
Now, I want to hear from you!
If you’ve encountered issues with gluten contamination in packaged foods, let everyone in our gluten free family know by leaving a comment below.
Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on “No Gluten Ingredients Used” product labeling…do you feel it helps or potentially harms those of us who must live gluten free for medical reasons?
Let’s get the comments and discussion going!
I’ll see you right back here Wednesday to announce the winner of our Taste Guru Gluten Free Giveaway!