So You Want to Start a Gluten-Free Company?
I diagnosed myself for gluten intolerance after a lifetime of bizarre, seemingly unrelated afflictions. If my doctors had their way, I would have already undergone neck surgery, still be on 3 different inhalers for asthma, be vomiting daily and having chronic panic attacks. However, since eliminating gluten from my diet in May 2009, I no longer suffer from any of those things. Even with the proof in the pudding (or gluten) my doctors now want me to ingest gluten to test for celiac-no can do.View all articles by Destiny Stone
Photo: CC/ Borya
To begin, it is important to take take inventory of celiac contamination requirements. Will your gluten-free business also sell gluten-containing foods? If so, cross contamination will be an issue. If your company will be solely a gluten-free accommodating business, it will make your challenges fewer, but there are other important factors to consider such as contamination, suppliers and certifications. Before you begin your journey into providing gluten-free products, it is important to think like a celiac.
Contamination & Cross-Contamination:
Cross-contamination occurs when a gluten-free product comes into contact with other gluten based products. Cross contamination can occur in a variety of ways, but it usually begins where food is prepared and packaged, such as with the supplier or the manufacturer. However, cross-contamination can occur from other sources as well. If you plan to sell gluten containing pizza and gluten-free pizza, for example, then you will have an entirely new set of concerns. If you make the pizza dough in-house, there is a very good chance that gluten flour will permeate in the air for hours after using, coating your surfaces and creating a health hazard for the gluten-free folks. And if you bake the gluten and non-gluten pizza's in the same oven, then you will also need to take that into consideration, as that is also a source of cross-contamination and can render your gluten-free pizza inedible for sensitive celiacs. If your gluten-free food is stored in the same place as the gluten-containing food, you may have also a health hazard on your hands. Basically, it's a good rule of thumb to follow the celiac guidelines set for keeping a gluten-free kitchen. There are many considerations to take into account when supplying gluten-free food and while keeping a pristine business will be your best friend, sometimes even that isn't enough.
Suppliers are a very important factor when starting a gluten-free business. It is important to research the product sources before using an ingredient source. If an ingredient source is contaminated by gluten, then your products could also be contaminated by gluten. So if you are looking to buy gluten-free rice flour for example, the reliability of your rice flour to be gluten-free will depend greatly on your supplier. It is important to carefully research the product supplier before using them. There is nothing worse than buying large quantities of food labeled “gluten-free” that actually contain gluten. Remember, it is up to a product's manufacturer to guarantee that their products are gluten-free. They must research their ingredient suppliers, and follow-up with them periodically, as sources and ingredients can change at anytime without notice.
If you plan to operate a gluten-free business then getting your products certified gluten-free is the best way to go. Not all gluten-free certifications are created equal. There are various gluten-free labels ranging from legitimate to not so legitimate, so it is important to research the most reliable, and best gluten-free label for your products. Getting your product 'gluten-free' certified will put your consumers at ease and increase your sales. It will also put you at ease knowing that you are providing the best gluten-free product you possibly can.
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