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Wheat Containers


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13 replies to this topic

#1 celiac3270

 
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Posted 01 October 2004 - 11:36 AM

This is infuriating...I don't care if they say that they'd be safe because of a small layer of some other material........this is really annoying. Would they make a container out of peanut flour for those with a peanut allergy? I don't think so. And yet, we get pushed around with this wheat thing.... :angry:

Wheat—A New Option for Carry-Out Containers 

Copyright © 1995-2004
Scott Adams.


Celiac.com 09/29/2004 - Those lightweight, polystyrene containers that some restaurants give you for carrying home leftovers or take-out meals are known in the foodservice industry as "clamshells." Their hinged-lid construction indeed resembles the architecture nature uses for clams, oysters, and other familiar bivalves.

Every year, billions of these clamshells and other foodservice containers made from petroleum-based foams end up in already overstuffed landfills. Slow to decompose, they become yet another environmental burden.

But the containers, along with other disposable foodservice items such as plates, bowls, and cups, can also be manufactured with biodegradable ingredients.

ARS plant physiologist Gregory M. Glenn is working with EarthShell Corp., the California-based innovators of potato-starch-based foam products such as burger boxes, to create environmentally friendly disposables made with starch from wheat, the world's most widely planted grain. His wheat-starch-based prototypes are sturdy, attractive, convenient to use, and just as leakproof as their polystyrene counterparts. Glenn is with the Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit at ARS's Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California.

Why use wheat starch in packaging? Because it offers manufacturers of foodservice products another choice among starches when they're buying raw materials. That purchasing flexibility can help keep their prices competitive with the polystyrene products. Another important cost savings: The machinery already used to make EarthShell's potato-starch-based containers is suitable for the wheat-starch products as well. That sidesteps the need for costly retooling at manufacturing plants.

"The machines are presses or molds that work something like giant waffle irons," explains Glenn. "First, a wheat-starch batter is poured onto the heated mold, which is then closed and locked. Moisture in the batter generates steam that, in turn, causes the batter to foam, expand, and fill the mold. The steam is vented and, when the baking is finished, the mold is opened, the product is removed, and the cycle starts again. This whole process takes less than a minute."

A water-resistant coating, added later, helps the container keep its strength and shape when it's filled with a hot, juicy cheeseburger or creamy pasta alfredo leftovers, for example. But once the container hits the backyard compost pile or municipal landfill, it biodegrades in only a few weeks.

Perhaps having our ready-to-eat meal packed for us in a guilt-free throwaway container, such as a wheat-starch-based clamshell, will make eating those foods even more enjoyable.—By Marcia Wood, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

This research is part of Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products, an ARS National Program (#306) described on the World Wide Web at www.nps.ars.usda.gov.

Gregory M. Glenn is in the USDA-ARS Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit, Western Regional Research Center, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710; phone (510) 559-5677, fax (510) 559-5818.

"Wheat—A New Option for Carry-Out Containers" was published in the September 2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Additional comments by USDA Plant Physiologist Gregory Glenn on 9/20/2004:
Due to a current market shortage of wheat starch, the containers will be made of corn starch. However, you bring up a very valid concern and at some point the containers may be made of wheat starch. We are very sensitive to the concerns that Celiac sufferers have regarding wheat-based products. I spoke with Dr. Bassi of MGP Ingredients. MGP is a major supplier of wheat starch. Dr. Bassi is very aware of the concerns about Celiac disease and serves on an international committee that addresses this concern. Dr. Bassi can be reached at MGP Ingredients at 800-255-0302. Let me summarize our conversation. Wheat allergens are comprised of protein or wheat gluten. The starch component itself is safe and would only be a risk if contaminated by gluten. Dr. Bassi explained that current food regulations specify that gluten levels below 200 ppm can be labelled "gluten free" and are deemed safe for consumption by the general public. Wheat starch produced by MGP has a protein level of 5 to 30 ppm which is well below the required 200 ppm level. Our wheat starch containers are only about 50% wheat starch and they have a film or coating on the container that provides moisture resistance.

It would also act as a barrier between the food product and the wheat starch. Thus, a food product would not come into direct contact with the wheat starch. As I mentioned earlier, the containers are currently being made of corn starch. However, the containers would be safe, even for those with wheat allergens, if the containers were made of wheat starch.


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#2 celiac3270

 
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Posted 01 October 2004 - 11:39 AM

Oh, here's the link to the article: http://www.celiac.co...l?p_prodid=1032
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#3 GEF

 
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Posted 01 October 2004 - 11:44 AM

Why would they even risk it? My opinion is make them all out of the corn starch and keep it that way. <_<
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#4 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 01 October 2004 - 12:59 PM

What about the people with a severe corn allergy?
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Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"
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#5 celiac3270

 
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Posted 01 October 2004 - 02:33 PM

Dixie Cups are made from some form of corn......corn starch, I guess.

This topic came up in the group, USA Silly-Yaks and someone mentioned that a friend who has a corn allergy or something reacts to dixie cups.....anyway, I feel like there are already so many things we have to be careful of....so now for this to be a concern is even worse.

And I know that they can't guarantee that we don't get "glutened" from them. What if that "film or coating" got punctured somehow without the person realizing it? What if some defect in a machine leaves part of the wheat-container uncovered and food touches it? This idea seems like a horrible idea....and for people with corn allergies, this obviously isn't good news, either.
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#6 MySuicidalTurtle

 
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Posted 01 October 2004 - 10:38 PM

I know they have been doing things with sugars. . .to stop using plastics. . .but wheat. . .thats completly crap in my opinion. Though, I am for anything that helps out with the problems we are causing even if it means bad things for me.



Ah, you get what I mean.
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#7 astyanax

 
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Posted 02 October 2004 - 05:45 AM

hmm i don't eat out often and if i do i never take home leftovers. i never get take out so i can't really think of the last time nor when in the future i'd end up using these. so no big deal to me, although i'm guessing i'm forgetting some part of my life where they are prevalent haha.
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#8 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 02 October 2004 - 08:21 AM

but the whole point is, like I tried to point out with the corn - there will ALWAYS be someone who says, if the item is made out of a natural product, that they will react to it. like the person who reacts to dixie cups, or us worrying about these containers. I am not discounting that this is a worry, and I would want them to label the containers so we can make informed decisions. but there is someone allergic to almost any alternative you can think of somewhere, so it's just push the problem off to someone else.

one other thing to think about - and I haven't researched this enough to know yet - but the process that requires wheat starch for turning into containers may require extremely pure starch - proteins may mess up the process. we do already debate over codex wheat starch, which has been tested to have very low levels of gluten, and doctors in Europe believe is safe for celiacs, and we should probably try to determine if the starch used for these containers has had the protein successfully removed.
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Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"
Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy
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#9 gf4life

 
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Posted 02 October 2004 - 10:49 AM

I guess if we go out to eat we will all just have to start carrying our own containers from home to take the leftovers in. :rolleyes:

It just seems a little odd to make food containers that people will be allergic to. I understand the need to make them biodegradable, but there has to be a better way. Isn't paper biodegradable? It might take a bit onger, but it will eventually breakdown. And you can recycle foil, so it seems like there are other options out there.

God bless,
Mariann
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Mariann, gluten intolerant and mother of 3 gluten intolerant children

#10 astyanax

 
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Posted 02 October 2004 - 11:22 AM

maybe people can just ask for them to be lined in foil then? since it's already unlikely wheat would get into food anyway, adding tinfoil might make it definite
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#11 MySuicidalTurtle

 
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Posted 02 October 2004 - 02:22 PM

Yes paper is biodegradable but it needs air and other things to do that. . .the thing with using wheat, corn, and surgars is that they will start to degrade on their own. . .at a certain point.

The tin foil layer is a good idea.
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#12 Lorifran57

 
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Posted 31 October 2004 - 12:21 AM

exactly how is the 'layer' or film or coating protecting against the wheat part of the box if the layer gets scratched or torn into?
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#13 celiac3270

 
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Posted 31 October 2004 - 06:01 PM

Yea....that was my concern.........it isn't, I guess
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#14 plantime

 
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Posted 01 November 2004 - 07:37 AM

I agree with Mariann: I will just have to start taking my own little container with me for leftovers! By doing that, I also will not be filling another landfill with anything!
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