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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes Where can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.

Do Not Trust The Trader Joes Labels
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74 posts in this topic

HappyHolly, I think it's the other way around (at least, the way I see it)--whoever came up with the idea that 200 ppm is "safe" for celiacs (the Codex standard for years) is incorrect, and many celiacs react to way, way less. So this is why there is such a push to reduce the so-called "safe" limit of 200 ppm to 20 or less.

So being produced on shared equipment might result in, I don't know, 10, 20, 20, 40 ppm--and there are people who could react to any of those numbers.

I'm not saying it's not possible for shared equipment to produce a product that has 200ppm, or for that matter, for shared equipment to product a product that has unmeasurably small amounts of gluten either.

Can anybody find any reliable info that tells us exactly how much a given brand tests for?

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I'm with you Fiddle Faddle. I am simply trying to rebuke the argument that it is okay to label foods as gluten free even if they have been processed in a shared facility.

Let's all think about how much 200 ppm is. It means 200 parts in every million parts. If you reduce this to simpler terms it is 1 part to every 5,000 parts. Imagine taking a teaspoon of gluten. Now divide one teaspoon into 5000 parts -- not 500 or 1000 but yes 5000 parts. It's hard to imagine, isn't it? Now take 1/5000th of that teaspoon. That is what 200 ppm means. It is a crumb or even less. Almost too small to imagine.

I think that a product can very easily pick up a crumb of gluten simply from being in a facility that produces wheat and gluten. Therefore, a product can definately exceed 200 ppm by being processed in shared facilities. And furthermore, that means it should NOT have the gluten free marking placed on it.

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I have no problem with Trader Joe's labeling. I look at the manufacturing statement on the back for all gluten free products. I would have a problem if they did not disclose that it is manufactured in a plant that also processes wheat products.

The best thing to do if you cannot tolerate any wheat what so ever, is to avoid all premade products. I rarely ever have something premade. I rarely ever have any grains at all. I seem to be so sensitive that all flours bother me, I just do without for the most part.

There have been some items I have been able to tolerate even though they are produced in a shared facility. There are some products that one time I might be able to tolerate it and another time not be able to.

I would say that the majority of people are not so sensitive, and can enjoy gluten free products manufactured in shared facilities. I would hate to try to limit these products for them. It is hard enough to find something to eat. Many people would not even know where to start without a gluten free label on the front.

I personally don't want to make things so difficult for someone who is trying to help us, that they decide it just isn't worth the trouble. I am happy to see so much available to our community. The same is true for restaurants. I know there is a chance of contamination even if I order off the gluten free menu. It is a chance I rarely take, but I appreciate the restaurants that at least try, even though they may not be perfect.

I am happy with full disclosure. I can make my own decisions from there.

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Regarding the 200 ppm topic...

When I contacted Willshire Farms about the gluten in their dino chicken nuggets and corndogs, they told me that when they batch tested the level of gluten in their products never exceeded the USDA limit, which is 200 ppm. When their food was tasted by an outside lab, some of their products tested upwards of 1000 ppm, which I assume is due to their shared lines.

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So.....if you have to read the label on the back anyway, why have a marker on the front saying a product is gluten free? I am not attacking Trader Joes for helping, I just want them to do a better job -- like Ukrop's for example. Ukrop's does not label a product as gluten free if it has been produced in a shared facility. Ukrop's has hired dietitians who are familiar with celiac sprue issues and seem to be very aware.

I appreciate Trader Joe's helping us, but they can improve. And, we can help them to improve. We should not settle for low standards just because they are trying. If they want to help us, let's help them help us. Let's educate them on what we can and cannot eat. If a product is made in a shared facility, then it most likely has over the minimum amount of glutetn to be considered gluten free. The marker indicating it is gluten free should not be there.

I have no problem with Trader Joe's labeling. I look at the manufacturing statement on the back for all gluten free products. I would have a problem if they did not disclose that it is manufactured in a plant that also processes wheat products.

The best thing to do if you cannot tolerate any wheat what so ever, is to avoid all premade products. I rarely ever have something premade. I rarely ever have any grains at all. I seem to be so sensitive that all flours bother me, I just do without for the most part.

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I think I read about this in the paper. I hope your son is okay.

Did Dino Chicken Nuggets and Corndogs remove the gluten free labels?

Regarding the 200 ppm topic...

When I contacted Willshire Farms about the gluten in their dino chicken nuggets and corndogs, they told me that when they batch tested the level of gluten in their products never exceeded the USDA limit, which is 200 ppm. When their food was tasted by an outside lab, some of their products tested upwards of 1000 ppm, which I assume is due to their shared lines.

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Regarding the 200 ppm topic...

When I contacted Willshire Farms about the gluten in their dino chicken nuggets and corndogs, they told me that when they batch tested the level of gluten in their products never exceeded the USDA limit, which is 200 ppm. When their food was tasted by an outside lab, some of their products tested upwards of 1000 ppm, which I assume is due to their shared lines.

Jenny, I think Wellshire Farms gave you bad information. The USDA currently has no policy defining gluten-free in the US. The FDA is recommending the definition be set at 20ppm but that isn't official yet. Either way Wellshire Farms fare exceeds anything acceptable for us and it's quite frustrating!

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Jenny, I think Wellshire Farms gave you bad information. The USDA currently has no policy defining gluten-free in the US. The FDA is recommending the definition be set at 20ppm but that isn't official yet. Either way Wellshire Farms fare exceeds anything acceptable for us and it's quite frustrating!

They may have given me inaccurate information. I have not had a chance to check with the USDA directly. I was also told by Wellshire that they had not produced those chicken nuggets since June 2008 and they are moving facilities. They will still produce their product on shared lines, but they are attempting to meet the proposed FDA definition of gluten free.

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Here is what I know about Trader Joe's. They have a champaign-citrus vinegar and it is on their gluten free list (available in the store.) It does not say gluten free on the bottle, but it lists "natural flavors" in the ingredients. The rest of the ingredients are okay.

I took a chance.

I got zapped. Mild, but I did get zapped.

That is enough for me, all arguments aside. No more Trader Joe's. It made me sick. Simple.

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At this point, without any real regulations on what gluten-free means, you need to do due diligence. I think Trader Joe's has done pretty well with the comments on the back of products stating whether or not there might be issues with products on the same equipment. What that means to you, as a consumer, you'll have to figure out for yourself. Right now, I pretty much restrict myself to things that contain no gluten ingredients and seem to be doing ok. But if you're really sensitive then you might need to go a step or two further.

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Maybe then they should have a label that reads "gluten free....to some". Lol.

I think they should switch to no gluten ingredients (that would be more accurate and cuase me to read back of box right away). Yes-- we should all double check the box for ourselves. I know they are TRYING to help-- but they can potenitally be harmful to not call more attention to the fact that the products are made on the same line, when they call so much attention to the gluten free labeling.

I know they meant no harm-- but i think it is important that we ask for a strict code when using the term gluten free.

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I almost purchased some baked cheetos at Trader Joes today. The front of the package had the mark indicating it was gluten free. The back, however, indicated that the product had been processed on equipment that also processed wheat products.

I have sent an e-mail to Trader Joes but have not yet heard back from them.

Please be very careful and do not trust their gluten free label on the front of their products.

If you look at the legend for their labeling marks, you will see that their 'gluten free' mark is not described as labeling something gluten free. It simply says: 'contains no gluten ingredients'. This way, they can slap that label on without risking anything from consumers if their product contains gluten from CC, since the ingredients themselves are considered gluten free.

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My email to TJ's, who trivializes a serious condition for profit:

I am disappointed and very upset that one of the retailers I had come to trust for my special diet needs is blatantly misleading and making people sick. Your Gluten labeling is completely misleading. While appropriate for those choosing a gluten-free life style, it misinforms and poisons those of us who have no choice. Your practice is unconscionable, insincere, and dangerous. I will no longer shop at your store, and may gluten-free online social communities are spreading the word about your lazy attempt to capitalize on a very serious disease.

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Here is what I know about Trader Joe's. They have a champaign-citrus vinegar and it is on their gluten free list (available in the store.) It does not say gluten free on the bottle, but it lists "natural flavors" in the ingredients. The rest of the ingredients are okay.

I took a chance.

I got zapped. Mild, but I did get zapped.

That is enough for me, all arguments aside. No more Trader Joe's. It made me sick. Simple.

ME TOOOOOOO!!!!

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Trader Joe's list of "no gluten ingredients used" foods is bogus and no help at all to sensitive groups.

I became extremely ill after eating gluten contaminated food three days in a row. I thought it was safe because it was on the list and I read the ingredients. What I didn't see was the "made on shared equipment" warning that was on the side of the container out of sight of the ingredients list.

Also, why is it that the WHO and Euro standard for gluten-free foods is 0 PPM, but here in the US it's proposed to be as much as 20 PPM? I can't believe the FDA is willing to approve a term like "free" that includes any amount of the contaminant that is supposed to be absent.

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Also, why is it that the WHO and Euro standard for gluten-free foods is 0 PPM, but here in the US it's proposed to be as much as 20 PPM? I can't believe the FDA is willing to approve a term like "free" that includes any amount of the contaminant that is supposed to be absent.

Actually, the European Codex standard is 20 ppm or 200 ppm, depending on the type of product.

Zero is an ideal, but can not be enforced because there is no test that is that sensitive. The most sensitive (and expensive) tests can only detect 5 ppm. Tests that are economically feasible for food production are limited to a sensitivity of 20 ppm.

As a side question, do you allow anybody to bring food that contains gluten into your home? If you do, your home is a "shared facility." If they use any of your plates or utensils, then you have "shared equipment."

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As Peter said, the limit is most definitely not zero. In fact, Europe allows Codex low-gluten wheat starch, which most people on this list would probably never even touch.

richard

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Here is a concern I have:

Some with Celiac are not very symptomatic -- some who have tested positive have no symptoms at all.

So, is it possible that they can eat foods that are produced on shared lines and never feel it, yet they are being glutened to the point where it might cause damage?

I am one of the "lucky" ones. I am non-Celiac gluten-intolerant and VERY, VERY sensitive, so I know right away if something that's labeled as "no gluten ingredients" or "naturally gluten-free food" is not right for me (usually within 15 minutes).

But what about those who have Celiac who don't react the way I do? And what about those who are not under the care of a really good doctor? They may be eating their lives away without knowing it.

I pray that labeling laws in the United States will change. It is so important.

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A very interesting topic.

I was at Trader Joe's today purchasing a few Gluten Free packaged items.

I noticed the gluten-free label and the disclaimer on the back that said it was processed on shared equipment. I'm a little overwhelmed as to how to proceed. My reaction

to gluten has been more subtle and I don't want to unknowingly continue to damage my body by comsuming gluten. What to do? I thought I'd found a good thing with Trader Joe's products.

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A very interesting topic.

I was at Trader Joe's today purchasing a few Gluten Free packaged items.

I noticed the gluten-free label and the disclaimer on the back that said it was processed on shared equipment. I'm a little overwhelmed as to how to proceed. My reaction

to gluten has been more subtle and I don't want to unknowingly continue to damage my body by comsuming gluten. What to do? I thought I'd found a good thing with Trader Joe's products.

It depends on your reaction to this. A product can be gluten free and processed on shared equipment. I wouldn't be overwhelmed about this or frustrated with Trader Joe's. They're a good company who actually work pretty hard to make things possible for people with celiac disease and it bothers me that people are so quick to accuse them of wrongdoing. Most shared equipment is washed and sterilized in between using it for different products. Does that remove 100% of the risk of your getting slightly cross contaminated? NO. But I'm not sure that you're going to be "consuming" gluten in any amount that will damage you. You're not eating something that has gluten in it, they're just saying that its on a shared facility and the possibility is there that there is a slight contamination. The choice is yours. I eat things processed on shared equipment if I trust the company.

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A very interesting topic.

I was at Trader Joe's today purchasing a few Gluten Free packaged items.

I noticed the gluten-free label and the disclaimer on the back that said it was processed on shared equipment. I'm a little overwhelmed as to how to proceed. My reaction

to gluten has been more subtle and I don't want to unknowingly continue to damage my body by comsuming gluten. What to do? I thought I'd found a good thing with Trader Joe's products.

Hi, VeggieMomma.

I was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few weeks ago. I have been gluten free (I think!) for only three weeks. Today was my first shopping spree at Trader Joe's where I had hoped to find Gluten Free heaven. Alas, like you, I found myself stuck. My symptoms leading to diagnosis were more general (tiredness, joint pain, mild bloating, etc.. ) I really don't know if I would notice "being glutened" yet, or ever, but I know I have to be strict to get healed (my biopsies revealed no villi at all.) Like you, I don't want to unknowingly continue to damage my intestines and never know it because my symptoms are so general. But now I am wondering about all of the gluten free products I've been eating that might simply be choosing not to label that they are processed on a shared facility. I feel I have to get myself to a "healed" state before I can possibly notice what it's like to be "glutened". But I'm thinking the only sure way to do that is to totally simplify my eating for the next several months. But man, was I depressed when everything I wanted to buy (corn tortillas, cashews, potato crisps, whatever...) said "on a shared facility".

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"Shared facility" means that, somewhere in building, there is gluten.

If you allow any gluten-containing products into your home, then your home is a "shared facility."

If any of those gluten-containing products are eaten using utensils from your kitchen, then you have "shared equipment."

For those of us who are extremely sensitive to trace quantities, this is a concern. For most of us, it is not something to worry about. The standards for washing equipment between batches at these plants are likely much more rigorous than those you follow at home.

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Hi, VeggieMomma.

I was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few weeks ago. I have been gluten free (I think!) for only three weeks. Today was my first shopping spree at Trader Joe's where I had hoped to find Gluten Free heaven. Alas, like you, I found myself stuck. My symptoms leading to diagnosis were more general (tiredness, joint pain, mild bloating, etc.. ) I really don't know if I would notice "being glutened" yet, or ever, but I know I have to be strict to get healed (my biopsies revealed no villi at all.) Like you, I don't want to unknowingly continue to damage my intestines and never know it because my symptoms are so general. But now I am wondering about all of the gluten free products I've been eating that might simply be choosing not to label that they are processed on a shared facility. I feel I have to get myself to a "healed" state before I can possibly notice what it's like to be "glutened". But I'm thinking the only sure way to do that is to totally simplify my eating for the next several months. But man, was I depressed when everything I wanted to buy (corn tortillas, cashews, potato crisps, whatever...) said "on a shared facility".

Your post brings to light why we so strongly advise folks to avoid processed foods at first. Try to go with a whole foods diet for a bit before you add in stuff processed. It will be easier to tell if you are someone sensitive to even those tiny amounts that way.

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Thank you Happy Holly for the information. I will be very careful when buying products there. This has happened to me else where too. Very frustrating.

Thanks for the heads up!

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Please bear with me with this thought, as it really does relate in my mind. :)

While I am very new to the gluten free world, I have had to educate myself regarding IgE (immediately life-threatening) food allergies. This issue regarding shared equipment/facilities is a big one. Now, I'd have to search to find the link, it's been so long ago, but I had read about a study done on food made on shared equipment. It showed something like 25% of the food (with none of the allergens as ingredients) actually had traces of the allergen in it when made on shared equipment. I think this was specifically peanut related. Because of that, I had to set a strict guideline for us. I am not willing that my child could die from eating something once out of four times.

No, I admit, I do not know how this actually relates to gluten, but it has affected my choices now that we are gluten free.

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