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Argo/kingsford Corn Starch
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Hi, all! I have been doing very well lately and got unexpectedly zapped. I knew it was actual GLUTEN because I had neuro symptoms, not just GI (ex. I had periphrial neuropathy in one foot for half a day and I was very dizzy - sure signs of gluten for me). The ONLY thing I had eaten differently was some gravy I had made with corn starch, and there was no possibility of cc because it was made in my kitchen with my dishes. Because Argo Corn Starch specifically states "cornstarch is a gluten-free product" on their label, I had a hard time figuring out what had made me sick. But I decided to email the company anyhow. Here is their response:

October 1, 2012

Jenny,

Thanks for contacting ACH Food, Inc.

Argo Corn Starch is produced in a facility where dairy, eggs, soy, wheat and coconut are also present. (Wheat is the only gluten product in our facility.) Generally, the corn starch is run on its own equipment; if there is an occasion where a product containing wheat would be run on the same equipment, we perform a thorough clean-out procedure between operations to prevent cross-contamination. While our facility is not certified gluten-free, we do everything possible to ensure there is no cross-contamination in our gluten-free products.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have other questions.

We appreciate your interest and hope you will continue to enjoy our products.

Judy

Consumer Affairs

ACH Food, Inc.

000239822A

I don't want to cause paranoia, and some people may not be sensitive enough for this to matter. But I thought I'd share since the reply was surprising.

(On a semi-related side note, how difficult do you think it would be to remove wheat from a line that runs very powdery products like cornstarch?)

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i've yet to have an issue with it, but i'll keep it in mind.

Eh, depends on what type of equipment it is.

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That's aggravating. I always use it in all of my baked goods. Never had a reaction, and I thought it was safe since it's labeled gluten free. Now I'm not sure what to do--it's the cheapest cornstarch we've found, and since I don't react to it... I guess it all comes back to what's safe for each individual.

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(On a semi-related side note, how difficult do you think it would be to remove wheat from a line that runs very powdery products like cornstarch?)

Actually, I don't think we know. Or at least I haven't found the info. for wheat specifically. The closest I've seen to answering this question was a powerpoint presentation on protein residue remaining on factory equipment. It involved three common cleaning protocols and looked at three different allergens: dairy, eggs, and peanuts.

In that presentation, all cleaning protocols did pretty well, but some did better than others. None of them managed 100% eradication of allergens, but some were pretty close. More allergenic proteins were cleaned off when they had smooth equipment as opposed to equipment that was...I think abraded was their term. Rough, basically.

What I found interesting was that certain cleaning protocols did better with certain allergens. So it wasn't as though cleaning protocol A did better across the board. It was more like cleaning protocol A did better with one allergen, and then cleaning protocol B did better with another.

I'd be interested in some day discovering what cleaning protocol does best with eradicating wheat, but haven't seen studies on it to date.

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Wow, thanks for that information, Shauna! I always get this picture of someone who really doesn't care, trying to clean flour off of industrial equipment. And we all know how hard it is to get powdery stuff like that off our counters, dishes, etc. I'm always suspicious of factories who run those things on the same lines as their gluten-free products - like DeBoles pasta, for example. (Or at least when I checked about a year ago they did not have dedicated lines; maybe they do now. Don't want to misrepresent!)

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I'm super-sensitive and I'm able to use Argo cornstarch. I was surprised by the letter posted above because I haven't reacted to Argo, and I can't handle anything produced in shared facilities. For example, I haven't found a single cereal I can handle because they're all made in shared facilities (at least as far as I've found).

I couldn't figure out what the other gluteny products would be since the only thing Argo makes, is, well, cornstarch. It's owned by ACH which manufactures other products (mainly Mazola, other corn-based products, and spices). And their website says this about the plant that produces cornstarch: http://www.achfood.com/summit.cfm

Would seem to imply no gluten. So I emailed them yesterday and got this quick response back:

Thanks for contacting ACH Food, Inc.

The plant that processes the cornstarch does not contain any gluten or dairy.

We appreciate your interest and hope you will continue to enjoy our products.

Valerie

Consumer Affairs

ACH Food, Inc.

Personally, I'm satisfied. If you have an issue with cornstarch, you may have an issue with corn.

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