Celiac.com 03/01/2016 - Did you know that even products all scientists agree to be safe may not be because when researchers experiment in a contained laboratory, they find the product to be safe...and we believe them don't we? The reality is, several of those products, like quinoa and buckwheat can often be cross-contaminated because they are processed and packaged in plants that also process regular wheat. If you visit one of these facilities and see the flour dust everywhere you will notice workers in white coats and masks to prevent dust inhalation. The employees look like they are walking around in astronaut suits, and it becomes clear that anything else processed in that plant could be contaminated with wheat.
It makes sense that companies that manufacture their products in a dedicated facility may price their products a little higher, and the cost will likely be passed on to the consumer. Pro-Cert indicates that while the expense to produce products under these dedicated protocols offers little versatility from year to year, because it is a closed loop system, but consumers shouldn't expect huge spikes in the price that never come down and only go up. I dream of the day when all gluten-free products will be made in dedicated facilities!
Dedicated Facilities that Produce Gluten-free Oats
Gluten-free purity protocol confirmed July 17, 2015. Oats are planted only on fields that have grown gluten-free grains for four years. Pure gluten-free seeds are planted. Fields are hand-rogued (You do know what roguing is don't you? Another grain flies in on the wind, or is trampled under foot from another field. Fairly easy to spot in the field of ripened wheat the farmers in my husband's family tell me.) to eliminate possible contamination. The grower is responsible for roguing, but is inspected by a Montana Mills inspector prior to harvest to ensure roguing was thorough and the fields are clean. Oats are transported in certified clean dedicated equipment to a dedicated facility. Redundant Elisa R5 testing is conducted before and after processing. Since 2012 Montana Mills uses the Elisa G12 approved testing.
Current gluten-free purity protocol confirmed July 21, 2015. They use only pedigree seeds. Growers attend workshops to learn requirements for gluten-free oats. Fields used to grow gluten-free are required to follow a specified crop rotation protocol. The fields are surrounded by isolated strips. All machinery and equipment is either cleaned or dedicated. All oats are processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Oats are tested using R5 Elisa 5 methadology.
Ice Cream Slip Up
I became very ill two weeks ago upon purchasing a soft ice cream, in a bowl of course, from a new store near our home. I should have realized that Wadden System Frozen Treats (www.icecreamflavors.com) coming from one machine but making over 20 flavors of ice cream, came from a flavor syrup that was added to the plain vanilla in the machine and that is how they got the flavored colors of ice cream. It contained wheat, and being a bit of a pig over ice cream I ordered a medium.
The nausea came first, then the diarrhea. Within twenty-four hours my scalp was covered in dermatitis herpetiformis lesions, water filled blisters that beg to be itched, and when you comply the burning in your scalp and thighs makes you so miserable you wished you had never even thought of ice cream! I went back of course, and I e-mailed the Wadden Company and suggested they notify the franchise people of what the bottles of flavorings contain. This did not help my illness or itching though, but we learn, oh goodness I hope I learn!
If a food allergen isn't labeled with all the proper food allergens and makes its
way into the store shelves, the food may be subject to a recall according to FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004) requirements, and you can report such foods. "Get the Facts", the USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, list the new allergen labeling laws that include the top eight food allergens.
Double Check these Foods
Imitation Sea Foods, such as imitation crab meat, imitation bacon bits, licorice, flavored coffees and teas, processed foods, some chocolates and bars, salad dressings, hot dogs, sausages, deli-meats, sauces, marinades, seasonings, and soy sauce.
Do what I did, take the form provided by the National Celiac Association for Pharmacists to your pharmacy and tell them you are either a celiac or gluten sensitive and ask them to find out if your medications contain gluten.
The Gluten Free Watchdog supports the use of gluten-free oats by the celiac disease community that are produced under a purity protocol. At this time we do not support the use of regular oats that are cleaned at the "end" of production via mechanical and/or optical sorting to be "gluten free". Before we can support the use of oats "cleaned" in this manner to be gluten-free we must be provided with thorough testing data. We can then compare this data to the thorough testing data provided to us for oats grown under a purity protocol."
The Gluten Free Watchdog, who work very hard to keep pushing companies with regards to the safety of oats, had a meeting with General Mills in July to discuss gluten-free Cheerios. Those involved with testing of the oats in Cheerios—Medallion Labs were also present. Marshall Gluten Free Milling and Pro-Cert, (Michael Marshall, President and CEO of Marshall Gluten Free Milling (www.glutenfreemilling.com) sent the Gluten Free Watchdog a letter indicating that they knew it was time to make a difference in a segment of the marketplace that needs some help. What does Marshall Gluten Free Milling do? They are the world's first company that provides ingredients to manufacturers that are produced on third party Certified Gluten Free FARMS by Pro-Cert a worldwide leader in third party organic certification.
It is a program that closely mirrors organic certification. Each farm must be free from gluten-containing products for two full years and on the third year of production the crops can be marketed. No gluten-containing product can be stored, handled, transported or conveyed with any infrastructure or equipment on the farm. Marshall gluten-free Milling Staff then control the dedicated trucking to a gluten-free only certified cleaning facility where the product is cleaned and sized to maximize quality. The oats are then shipped in a dedicated gluten-free truck to a third party certified gluten-free mill (GFCO, Pro-Cert, etc.). So the mill, cleaner and farm are all certified. The crops available right now on this program are organic oats and flax. Interest has spread to non-organic producers as well. They are expanding their offerings to lentils, peas and possibly quinoa. They need a sustainable crop rotation for the producers in the program. Primarily right now the focus of their ingredient marketing is oats as this is where the 3rd party certification of the farm is most crucial to developing a sustainable gluten-free crop rotation.
Michael Marshall was asked about General Mills announcing that five varieties of Cheerios were to be labeled gluten-free. The company is using regular oats cleaned at the "end" of production via mechanical separation. According to General Mills there are not enough oats grown under a purity protocol to produce Cheerios. He was asked, based on his industry experience, did he feel that mechanical/optical sorting was sufficient to ensure the gluten-free status of oats. He stated that General Mills was a trusted brand who value their name, and have done their homework on the process. But he also stated that mechanical and optical sorting equipment has been used for quality control for years as well as for food safety precautions. It is not new idea, has come a long way, but he thinks that even General Mills would have to agree it does not reduce the risk to zero. Michael Marshall is concerned about the dust control system used by General Mills. In his opinion, contaminated conventional low cost oats in gluten-free foods is risky.
After Tricia Thompson of the Gluten Free Watchdog asked if his program guaranteed 100% pure gluten-free oats? He said, "Generally speaking, there are always going to be anomalies." However if you look at the protocols in our program there are standard operating procedures in place. These procedures include: Planting seeds that are verified pure. Using only gluten-free planting equipment. Using buffer strips around the field – At harvest, the crop within the buffer strip cannot be binned with the gluten-free product—this protects the gluten-free crop from outside contamination. Strip testing every load that comes off the field before it is binned. Sending a representing sample from every bin to the lab for testing using the R5ELISA R7001 assay (testing prior to the crop being shipped to the mill. Testing at the mill before the crop is unloaded. The bottom line being they are testing at various steps to find gluten through the entire production of the crop to mitigate or eliminate the risk of contamination before it even gets to the mill. Once at the mill hi-tech sorting or mechanical separation will be for quality versus the only fail-safe measure to assure removal of gluten. The farm will be required to be certified gluten-free by Pro-Cert. They have 25,000 acres of both organic and conventional farmland under the certification program that will be available for the market this October. There are farmers lining up to get on the program and they have not even marketed it yet. It is a big market to supply and I believe we can all benefit.
Of course they want to follow safety guidelines! The celiac population is big business and I thank the Gluten Free Watchdog for working to develop a safety protocol for oats and working hard to obtain purity so that we can safely eat food without getting sick. But I know there will be a price to be paid for purity and safety, and it has to be passed on to the consumer, and I think there should be more tax breaks for the celiac population. AND, that is another place that the Gluten Free Watchdog and FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004) can help us with keeping the costs down. No-one should have to be penalized out of their pocketbook for having a gluten sensitivity or severe gluten allergy.
My goodness, in Great Britain tax breaks are considerable for anyone who has diabetes, celiac disease or many notable food allergies. They do not decide that you have to use a certain medication, a generic brand, because the brand prescribed by your doctor is not listed under Pharmacare like they do in British Columbia, and, in Great Britain, as soon as a woman becomes pregnant she receives free vitamins for her unborn baby and all costs during her pregnancy are covered by their Medical Insurance Coverage. Dental, glasses, and money for diapers and a clothing allowance for the first three months of the babies life are paid for. We in the United States and Canada are so far behind Europe and the Great Britain in our health coverage. I think as a celiac and somone who has multiple allergies that require severe diets, some assistance and tax adjustments should be available more than the paltry difficult to monitor cost adjustment program that is in place today in our two countries! I know, my "Bandwagon", but one you should get on board too, and so should the NFCA.
- Articles linking to this article: Did You Know? (Spring 2017)