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Do Not Trust The Trader Joes Labels


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73 replies to this topic

#16 happygirl

 
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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for editing your earlier post for clarification, FF.
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#17 Fiddle-Faddle

 
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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:33 PM

Thanks for editing your earlier post for clarification, FF.


I did not edit the original post, for clarification or anything else! I didn't edit it at all--that was how I wrote it the first time. You can tell, because it appears in psawyer's post as a quote.
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#18 happygirl

 
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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:38 PM

I must have misread it, then. I thought you had corrected it to update it regarding gluten free labeling. My mistake!
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#19 psawyer

 
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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:42 PM

Fiddle-Faddle, you state that, in the US, gluten-free means less than 200 ppm.

My question was about the basis of that statement. As far as I know, the FDA has yet to establish a regulation about the designation "gluten-free," so how are we to know that the limit is 200 ppm. Maybe there is no established limit yet (my understanding). It could end up at 200 ppm, or a different number. Until the FDA makes and publishes a rule, we just don't know.
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Peter
Diagnosis by biopsy of practically non-existent villi; gluten-free since July 2000.
Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes diagnosed in March 1986
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#20 sbj

 
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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:13 AM

It is interesting to me that Europe uses a standard of 200 ppm. I often read on this forum about how Europe is so far advanced compared to the US when it comes to gluten free testing, products, labeling, medical profession, and so on. We are so backward in the USA, they are so much better, blah blah. So it strikes me as strange that Europe seem to be getting by quite successfully using a standard of 200 ppm. Many on this forum seem to feel that even a standard of 5 ppm will not be good enough. In fact, from what I can glean, many here actually feel that no product should be labeled gluten free, ever, because you can actually never certify that a product is gluten free. They also seem upset with products that contain no gluten ingredients if they are made on shared equipment or in shared facilities. They don't seem to realize that such labeling is voluntary and much of the gluten free foods that they do eat are probably produced in shared facilities - they simply aren't labeled that way! Gluten is everywhere. Studies show that those with celiac disease can probably handle up to 6 mg of gluten daily without intestinal damage.

Aren't we asking for some impossible to reach standard regarding labeling? As customers it is up to us to take some responsibility for what we put in our bodies - we shouldn't blame these companies that produce products especially for us. If you can't handle food made on lines that also process wheat then do your best to establish which companies are doing that and avoid that food. But I don't think it is unreasonable for a company to say their food is gluten free if they test it to be below 20 ppm and use good practices.

The FDA study linked below is titled, "Approaches to Establish Thresholds for Major Food Allergens and for Gluten in Food":

http://www.cfsan.fda...tml#table-iii-1
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#21 MaryJones2

 
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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:27 AM

I believe the standand in the EU was just set this week to 20ppm to be 'gluten-free' and 100ppm for 'very low gluten'. The compliance date is 2012 for manufacturing and labeling changes. I believe wheat starch is still allowed. Here is a link. If you Google it you can find a few more on the subject.
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#22 sbj

 
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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:51 AM

I believe the standand in the EU was just set this week to 20ppm to be 'gluten-free' and 100ppm for 'very low gluten'. The compliance date is 2012 for manufacturing and labeling changes. I believe wheat starch is still allowed. Here is a link. If you Google it you can find a few more on the subject.

So can gluten-free or very low gluten products be made on lines that also process wheat, or be made on machinery that also processes wheat? Would very low gluten products be suitable for someone with celiac disease (or who is the target, I wonder?)

The FDA article I linked to mentioned that 20 ppm for 'naturally' gluten free products and 100 pmm for other gluten free products was a good target so it sounds like the EU standard is reasonable.
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#23 brigala

 
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Posted 31 January 2009 - 12:31 AM

From traderjoes.com:

In addition, we have voluntarily included information about the manufacturing process of our products ("Made on shared equipment..." and "Made in a facility that processes..."). What these statements don't include (there is only so much room on the label) is that all Trader Joe's private label suppliers follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's). We work closely with all of the companies that manufacture our products and require that they are vigilant about minimizing and monitoring any potential cross contamination risk. Some of the steps taken to prevent cross contamination include education and training of employees about allergens, careful labeling and segregation of allergen ingredients, cleaning of lines between production runs and stringent scheduling of product runs. Manufacturers may even use alternate days to process products that contain allergens from those products that do not.

We provide you with all of this information so you can feel confident that you are making informed buying decisions. We want you to feel safe, comfortable and thrilled by with the food choices you are making.

As manufacturers and ingredients can change, we strongly encourage our customers to read ingredient information every time they buy a Trader Joe's brand product (or any product, for that matter).


Clearly, everyone needs to evaluate his or her own needs and decide whether they are willing to consume products manufactured on the same equipment, or in the same facility, or only from dedicated facilities. As for me, this statement is good enough. If the equipment is cleaned between runs, and the product I'm eating doesn't contain gluten ingredients, I will eat it. I won't necessarily do the same with other brands, but I haven't had any problem with TJ's stuff so far.
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Celiac is a family affair for us; my mom, sister, and one of my sons are gluten free. At least it makes holiday gatherings easier. 


#24 elonwy

 
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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:56 AM

There was an article in I believe the NY Times? a couple months ago ( I can't find the link, but its somewhere on this board) where they tested out these so-called "good manufacturing practices" which do have an FDA standard in regard to allergens because some children had gotten allergic reactions to food that should never have had allergens in them. I no longer trust that statement. Places like Whole Foods and TJ's don't make or process their own food. In TJ's case a lot of it is processed outside the US. They set these standards for their plants, but who knows how often they check it, how its actually being run etc. Call me paranoid, but I don't trust these big corporations to follow through on all these claims. Heck, the Peanut Butter Corp people are claiming they followed "good manufacturing practices".
I will do "shared facilities" but you won't find me eating anything "shared equipment". I have a 100% gluten-free house for a reason.
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Inconclusive Biopsy 7/20/05
gluten-free since 7/23/05
Never felt better.


"So here's us, on the raggedy edge, come a day when there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. - Malcolm Reynolds"

#25 Happy Holly

 
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Posted 31 January 2009 - 07:19 PM

How many parts per million of gluten can a product be contaminated with by being produced on equipment that also produces wheat and gluten? Since many of us have had reactions to products processed on shared equipment, then it seems likely that a product can acquire more than the 200 ppm gluten just by being produced on shared equipment.

Anyone agree/ disagree?

[quote name='Fiddle-Faddle' date='Jan 27 2009, 10:59 PM' post='505977']
For those who don't yet know this, "Gluten-Free" in the US does not mean gluten-free. It means that it may contain up to 200 ppm (parts per million) gluten.
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#26 Fiddle-Faddle

 
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Posted 01 February 2009 - 05:58 AM

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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#27 Happy Holly

 
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Posted 01 February 2009 - 06:54 AM

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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#28 WW340

 
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Posted 01 February 2009 - 08:30 AM

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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Positive Bloodwork January 2007
Positive Biopsy Feb. 2007
Gluten Free since January 2007

HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1 0201
HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2 0303

Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ 2,3 (Subtype 2,9)

#29 JennyC

 
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Posted 01 February 2009 - 09:21 AM

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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Son 6 yrs old, Positive blood work, Outstanding dietary response, no biopsy.
Household mostly gluten free since 3/07

Me: HLA-DQ 02 & 0302 (DQ 08), which I ran & analyzed myself!Currently gluten lite, negative tTG, asymptomatic

#30 Happy Holly

 
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Posted 01 February 2009 - 04:59 PM

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.


[quote name='WW340' date='Feb 1 2009, 11:30 AM' post='507336']
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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