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gluten-free Foods In Bulk Bins--Safe?
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Hi, all! I'm in the process of being tested for Celiac. My GP took blood for the IgA and tTG tests and has referred me to a GI doc, whom I hope to hear from in the next few days. I've done a lot of wading around in the forums in the past week, especially this board. I've been able to answer most of my questions but I do have one that I'm not sure about and can't spend any more time looking into.

 

Would you consider gluten-free foods in bulk bins safe? If gluten-free oats are across the aisle from wheat flour, would you buy them? What about gluten-free pastas that are in a different aisle from flours? Would you buy nuts, beans and rice from there? I rely heavily on bulk foods to keep costs down. Making a gluten-free menu for the month is already pushing our costs up and I dread the thought of having to give up the bulk bins even though I suspect I'll have to. (And yes, I know I need to keep eating gluten until the tests are complete. I planned a gluten-free menu but will eat bread and crackers as well until I know I can stop.)

 

Thanks!

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Nope!

The bins become empty....some worker dusts them out and fills them with something different. People use the scoops from one bin to another. People stick their dirty fingers in them....

Maybe you could get it from the newly opened bags? Make a friend at the store. If they are in those bins that you slide it and stuff falls out, with no chance for people to get their hands in it or use the wrong scoop, it would be safer. Ask about cleaning and re- filling procedures.

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Nope!

The bins become empty....some worker dusts them out and fills them with something different. People use the scoops from one bin to another. People stick their dirty fingers in them....

Maybe you could get it from the newly opened bags? Make a friend at the store. If they are in those bins that you slide it and stuff falls out, with no chance for people to get their hands in it or use the wrong scoop, it would be safer. Ask about cleaning and re- filling procedures.

Thanks, that's what I figured. Sigh... I've thought that anyway each month when I'm getting my bulk foods. There are things that are labeled gluten free and I've thought to myself "Yes, but there's probably cross contamination" and worried about people who might not think about that. It will make a difference in our budget but thankfully not too much. And obviously it's worth it. If I run into someone filling the bulk bins on in a couple days I'll ask about the the cleaning and re-filling of upper bins that the food falls out of.

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You can order things online. Some folks save money that way.

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You can order things online. Some folks save money that way.

Thanks! I'm going to look into that for the next few months. This month won't work but it will give me time to look into my options and figure out what things it will work best for.

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I buy things from more than one store in the area that sells in bulk. The key is in how you do it. Rather than buying out of the bin, I purchase an entire package at a time. This means things like 25 pounds of corn starch or salt. I buy my pasta in 10 pound boxes. However the store receives it to put into the bulk bins is how I buy it. The bonus to this is that I get a 10% discount off the per pound price by just buying the whole package. The downside is that at one of the stores I have to get them to order it for me and wait for it. The other always has a few boxes of pasta and oatmeal in stock.

 

It can seem expensive with the sticker shock of things like $65 for a bag of salt or $16 for a box of pasta. But then it isn't like its something you'll buy every month. I also space out my purchases as much as I can. If I know I'm getting low on more than one thing I'll buy one in one month and another the next so I'm not blowing my whole food budget at once. Keep in mind that with things like a 10 pound box of pasta, you can probably tuck that in your pantry. With things like a 25 pound bag of anything, you'll have to also buy a 5 gallon food storage bucket. (And a rubber mallet and one of those wrench thingers you open the buckets with unless you get a special screw on lid one.)

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I ask at my local coop to have them get small portions from the original bag.  I figure it is a bit better then getting from the public bin.  They usually help with this since they understand.  I have been known to buy certain items from gravity bins, but I always wash them for more security.  I buy in bulk from Azure Standard (I am in a buyer's club)  They are in Dufur, Oregon and my stuff comes on a truck monthly. 

 

D

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Really depends on the item.  In the beginning, I bought corn pasta in bulk but then was afraid to fix it.  Why?  Because I didn't know what might have been in that bin before and if it was cleaned out well before it was refilled.  I have also seen customers using a scoop or tongs from one bin in anogther bin.  Just too easy to cross contaminate.  Now something that comes individually wrapped, like candy, I might buy. 

 

Another reason I don't like bulk bins is that unless you know that the store sells a lot of whatever you are buying, you could be buying old stuff.  My mom always puts beans and popcorn in my Christmas stocking that she gets in bulk from a health food store.  They are always very old.  I have tried to tell her that the food is not good but she's getting senile I think and she still keeps buying it.  I have bought beans at Winco and also at Whole Foods when it was new.  They were fresh.  But mostly I buy packaged stuff.

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I buy things from more than one store in the area that sells in bulk. The key is in how you do it. Rather than buying out of the bin, I purchase an entire package at a time. This means things like 25 pounds of corn starch or salt. I buy my pasta in 10 pound boxes. However the store receives it to put into the bulk bins is how I buy it. The bonus to this is that I get a 10% discount off the per pound price by just buying the whole package. The downside is that at one of the stores I have to get them to order it for me and wait for it. The other always has a few boxes of pasta and oatmeal in stock.

 

It can seem expensive with the sticker shock of things like $65 for a bag of salt or $16 for a box of pasta. But then it isn't like its something you'll buy every month. I also space out my purchases as much as I can. If I know I'm getting low on more than one thing I'll buy one in one month and another the next so I'm not blowing my whole food budget at once. Keep in mind that with things like a 10 pound box of pasta, you can probably tuck that in your pantry. With things like a 25 pound bag of anything, you'll have to also buy a 5 gallon food storage bucket. (And a rubber mallet and one of those wrench thingers you open the buckets with unless you get a special screw on lid one.)

Great idea, I'm going to look into this.

 

I ask at my local coop to have them get small portions from the original bag.  I figure it is a bit better then getting from the public bin.  They usually help with this since they understand.  I have been known to buy certain items from gravity bins, but I always wash them for more security.  I buy in bulk from Azure Standard (I am in a buyer's club)  They are in Dufur, Oregon and my stuff comes on a truck monthly. 

 

D

I've considered Azure in the past and am going to look into it again for upcoming months. I remember them delivering to a few spots here in the Willamette Valley so if we can afford the minimum amount per delivery I know it could be well worth it. Can we afford it is the real question since my husband and I are both on disability.

 

Really depends on the item.  In the beginning, I bought corn pasta in bulk but then was afraid to fix it.  Why?  Because I didn't know what might have been in that bin before and if it was cleaned out well before it was refilled.  I have also seen customers using a scoop or tongs from one bin in anogther bin.  Just too easy to cross contaminate.  Now something that comes individually wrapped, like candy, I might buy. 

 

Another reason I don't like bulk bins is that unless you know that the store sells a lot of whatever you are buying, you could be buying old stuff.  My mom always puts beans and popcorn in my Christmas stocking that she gets in bulk from a health food store.  They are always very old.  I have tried to tell her that the food is not good but she's getting senile I think and she still keeps buying it.  I have bought beans at Winco and also at Whole Foods when it was new.  They were fresh.  But mostly I buy packaged stuff.

I do my big monthly shopping each month at Winco and have had good luck with bulk stuff but most of the things I've been getting have had high turnover. I'm definitely too worried about the cross contamination now to use them, too.

 

It's going to take me a few months to get used to all of this, that's for sure. Being gluten free and figuring out the cheapest ways to get the things I'd use most. Thanks again for all the input!

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The bulk place I go to (went to) used to put everything in a big plastic bag inside the bin. So every time they changed it they changed the bag. There were no cross contamination that way. But the scoops and stuff yea ... I wouldn't trust that!! I go to Costco now and but family sized. 

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Love love love Winco! That is where I get my pasta. They have penne and several types of macaroni, but I just get the brown rice one. They have spaghetti too but I didn't like it.

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    • I'll give my PCP a call tomorrow and see what they can offer. My only worry is the expense as anymore tests will put me behind in being able to afford to see the GI. I have high deductible insurance but get money put into my HSA. I'm still trying to pay off the CT scan though. Which is why I'm trying to pick and choose which poses the greatest risk for me right now and what can wait. (Though I would prefer not to wait on any of it.)

      I really do hope its only IBS. Though I always worry IBS is more or less a doctors way of saying "I have no clue" at that point. :C

      Again, I'll be sure to give my PCP a call tomorrow then and see what the options are. I can feel a lot better trying the blood work first. however, once that is done, do I still need to be on a gluten diet before the endoscopy? Also, is it ok if I still mildly reduce the gluten. As in, can I avoid a whole wheat pasta dinner, but still be eating the peanut butter crackers? That sort of thing. Again I guess that is more of a doctor related question. I just wasn't sure if in order to raise your chance, you have to mass consume gluten or not. (Its already in just about everything to begin with.)
       
    • Excellent point, GFinDC!!! I just assumed that Steph had the endoscopy and not just the antibodies tests.    
    • She (your PCP)  can order a celiac blood panel.  It might not be a complete panel, but it's a start.  Any medical doctor can order one.  A GI is needed for the endoscopy (ulcers, Celiac disease, h.pylori, etc.), HIDA scan (gallbladder)  or colonoscopy (IBS).   Since you just saw her, email/call/write a letter and ask her to order (lab) the celiac panel.  You could go to the lab before or after work.  Pretty easy!  
    • I just now saw the second reply and I see what you mean. Again, the issue is that I may have to go with the gluten until close to the end of the year.

      However, an idea did just come to mind, and that is, can my primary care doctor do such a test? I had normal blood work done, but they didn't really say anything about testing for celiacs. I can get an appointment with my primary care doctor much sooner than a GI.

      When I was talking to my PCP last, I asked her what I should expect as far as testing goes or what she may have been concerned about. Her reply was about a HIDA scan for the gallbladder but also any test needed in case of IBS or Celiacs. Just the way she threw that in there like an after thought and left me hanging kinda had me worried.
    • I am not a doctor that's for sure.  So, I can't even answer your questions.  If you know you have pre-diabetes, you probably are working with a doctor.  Can you email them and ask for a celiac blood panel?   You can work on the weight loss and diabetes -- that you can handle yourself now and take action.  I have diabetes and my glucose readings are fairly normal now without medication and I'm thin.  Being overweight does not cause diabetes.  It's either autoimmune (type 1) or you become insulin resistant (type 2).  You can cut out all sugar and  processed stuff ASAP to help take action and start walking 10,000 steps (helps with the insulin resistance).    But the prediabetes is not going to kill you in the next year.  Whatever's in your gut is more likely going to get you much sooner.  But heck, I'm not a doctor and I don't even know you!    
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