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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Progress on Gluten-free Campus Food Options Uneven, but Steady

    Caption: Image--Wikimedia Commons

    Celiac.com 06/13/2014 - As the number of students eating gluten-free continues to rise, colleges and universities are scrambling to keep up with an increasing demand for gluten-free options.

    Image--Wikimedia CommonsThe latest news comes from the University of Wisconsin, where the Net Nutrition program enables students with food allergies to more easily navigate the cafeteria.

    The program allows people to screen for allergens and food intolerance, and offers an easy way to subtract menu items a person cannot have, she said. UW’s dining halls have incorporated gluten-free items such as pizza, pasta, deserts and various baked goods, while Union South has also incorporated gluten-free options at its restaurants.

    The result has been a dramatic increase in the number of gluten-free UW student food options.

    Still, for best results, students need to get involved, says Barbara Kautz, faculty adviser for the Gluten-Free Badgers student organization. Katz calls student self-advocacy the most important factor in making gluten-free options available on campus.

    That means that interested UW students should call ahead if they plan to attend UW-hosted events that serve food. Once alerted, food services will be sure to provide a gluten-free option, Katz says.

    Kautz says she is pushing to have gluten-tolerance status included in the admission paperwork UW collects for each student.


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Gregory M. Glenn is in the USDA-ARS Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit. 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 worlds 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 ARSs 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 theyre 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 EarthShells 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 its 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 labeled 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.

    Kristen Campbell
    Celiac.com 01/03/2009 - Recently on a gluten-free forum, I found a post asking for advice on what to do after a woman had accidentally consumed a large amount of gluten.  After unknowingly eating from her daughter’s takeout box, the woman had realized her mistake and was simply devastated to have broken her diet and subjected herself to the old, too-familiar symptoms that were on their way.
    It was interesting reading the various responses, which resulted in a debate over whether or not to induce vomiting, drink pineapple juice, take enzymes or engage in a certain illegal activity.  In all the debate, the woman eventually disappeared off the forum, which probably meant that she took some action or another, though I never heard the final result.
    This whole subject inspired some research on my part.  I first consulted my extensive gluten-free library, which led me to one solitary, repetitive answer: do not eat gluten.  In a world where doctors and authors alike are so concerned that their advice on the subject will lead people with gluten sensitivities to forgo a gluten-free diet in favor of a “band aid” of sorts, that finding a documented recommendation is near impossible.
    These experts are right to reinforce the importance of maintaining a gluten free lifestyle, and the fact that there is no “cure” for gluten intolerance and celiac disease (other than complete avoidance of gluten from wheat, barley and rye).  But mistakes do happen, and from time to time people do get "glutened,” and when they do, which action is best?
    No matter what the size is of the offending dose of gluten, all experts agree, inducing vomiting is too dangerous and disruptive to the body to be considered.  But there is one option that at least two noted experts in field of celiac research agree upon: enzymes.
    When I contacted the renowned Dr. Kenneth Fine of EnteroLab, and asked him if perhaps a dose of enzymes that are designed to break down gluten might help, he had this to say: “The good news is that everyone will survive and recover from the gluten exposure.  The enzymes you mention might help, but not completely, unless they consumed at the same time (as the gluten) for best results.”  And like all good doctors, he did go on to warn, “Avoidance is still the best policy.”
    Shari Lieberman, PhD, CNS, FACN and author of The Gluten Connection very humbly admits that “gluten slips happen.”  She also devotes a couple of pages in her book to research conducted using digestive enzymes to help manage those occasions when gluten does make its way into your diet, citing a research example in which “The study demonstrates that enzyme therapy can substantially minimize symptoms in people with celiac disease who are exposed to gluten.” 
    The enzyme used in this study does not seem to be currently available, but other gluten enzymes are at your local health food store.  I contacted one company in regard to their product, which according to them helps to reduce inflammation caused by the introduction of gluten in an individual with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.  According to them their enzymes will not prevent all damage, but may reduce some inflammation and help the body to better digest the protein.
    Ultimately, gluten sensitive individuals should recover from one accidental “gluten slip” here and there, and keeping some digestive enzymes handy to help cope with such an accident is not a bad idea.  But do keep in mind that repeated offenses, even the most minute, will damage your body and prevent it from healing.  Enzymes help treat the symptoms, but only complete avoidance of gluten can treat the disease.


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 01/03/2011 - Thanks to motivated food staff, students at the University of Connecticut will now be able to enjoy gluten-free menus in all of their dining halls, convenience stores and in the food courts.
    To better serve those students who suffer from celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant, the students have teamed with dining director Dennis Pierce and culinary development manager Robert Landlophi, to transform UConn’s menus.
    An estimated 75-100 students on a meal plan have celiac disease.
    The social and medical challenges and stigmas that can follow sufferers of celiac disease make it difficult to eat outside the home, particularly in a college dining hall.
    Medical advances in recent years have allowed for doctors better diagnose patients leading to a spike in the popularity of gluten-free diets. Pierce notes that the demand for a greater variety of gluten-free foods in grocery stores and restaurants is growing.
    As the author of the website, “The Gluten-Free Chef” and cookbook, Gluten-Free Everyday Cookbook, Landlophi knows the gluten-free lifestyle incredibly well after his wife was diagnosed with celiac disease. By sharing his family’s personal story, he has helped shed a brighter light on the solution that has brought relief to thousands: gluten-free for life.
    The culinary brain-child of Pierce and Landlophi comes as part of a joint effort to bring a gluten-free diet into the mainstream. Their menu, which took a few months to rework, already contained about 20% naturally gluten-free items, and needed only modest adjustments. As the country’s third largest residential student food program, serving nearly 180,000 meals each week, the menu stands out as national model for other schools.
    Pierce is also joining forces with Boston’s Children’s Hospital, who have implored his expertise in gluten-free lifestyles, to create a series of informational training videos and reading materials for those who suffer from celiac disease and other food service professionals. It is the hope of those involved that this information will also be utilized by parents of gluten-intolerant children to help insure a lifelong commitment to remaining gluten-free.
    Landlophi will be joining Pierce who will be attending the National Association of College and University Food Service Conference in Dallas, Texas. The two plan on making a presentation that addresses the growing need for gluten-free awareness on campuses across the country. Attendants can expect to hear about UConn’s self-imposed strict cooking protocols that are adhered to in order to avoid contamination with wheat products. UConn has taken it a step further to ensure that each student with a meal plan gets personal attention from the dining service staff which includes a detailed assessment of food allergies and dietary requirements.
    The selection and quality of gluten-free products available to the public is steadily improving, and the organizers have invested a great deal of time to guarantee that the best possible products are served to UConn’s students.
    Congratulations to UConn for forging a clear path for gluten-free students!


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 09/23/2011 - In what looks to be a response to a surge in the demand for gluten-free dining experiences, hotel chains such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Omni Hotels & Resorts and Ritz-Carlton Hotels are adjusting their menus and their kitchens to properly accommodate gluten-free guests.
    Recent projections by industry tracker, Packaged Facts, suggest that gluten-free products will top $5 billion worldwide by 2015. Many savvy hoteliers see that trend to be influencing consumer expectation, and are attempting to position themselves for the future.
    Smart hoteliers and restaurateurs will also embrace the fact that reaping the benefits of the burgeoning demand for gluten-free eating means more than just serving gluten-free food. It means providing a complete, comprehensive service from product to preparation and delivery; from supply chain to the dining table.
    For example, says Deborah Ceizler, director of marketing for the Celiac Disease Foundation, “...the contamination issue is the thing to watch for. You can serve hamburger with no bun, but if you’re using the same utensil to put a hamburger on a regular bun there’s [gluten] contamination.”
    Offering a gluten-free meal means "more than just saying we have a gluten-free menu," she says. adding that, "f you’re making a gluten-free pizza you have to make it in a different place, using different pans."
    The gluten-free menu for the 65-seat Muse restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland menu includes 11 appetizers and entrees. But, chef Constantine Vourliotis, says, “It’s not a gluten-free menu, it’s a menu that happens to be gluten-free."
    Muse kitchen handles gluten-free orders “just like any allergy, when the ticket comes in off the machine, the issue is identified and we make sure there is an area free from the allergen. We set up a cutting board and whoever is able to take care of that guest’s needs owns the ticket, says Vourliotis.” They keep sanitation and soap buckets at each station, so the cooks are cleaning and sanitizing as they go.
    Frederic Chartier, chef de cuisine at Fyve in the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, VA, who is creating a guide for his staff that notes every item in the kitchen that contains gluten.
    Other hotels or hotel chains to feature prominent gluten-free menus include:

    Numerous hotels in the Ritz-Carlton chain introduced gluten-free menus in 2010. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which partnered with a nutritionist and spent a year putting together a training program covering numerous dietary preferences, including diabetes, heart healthy, vegan, raw, macrobiotic and gluten-free. Omni Hotels has announced plans to introduce a gluten-free breakfast buffet station across its chains. The station will include gluten-free cereals, granola, breads and muffins. Each station will have its own table and toaster to avoid cross-contamination with products containing wheat.
    Stephen Rosenstock, senior vice president of food and beverage of Omni Hotels, recognizes the trend and its importance. “For a number of years, there’s been a growing recognition of people with gluten intolerance,” he says. Rosenstock points out the gluten-free options don’t cost hotels more money. It’s all about sourcing differently and planning for it.Meanwhile, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts continues its industry-leading and comprehensive plan to field gluten-free food requests on a guest-by-guest basis across its vast array of dining establishments.
    Instead of any one special menu, the company’s restaurants rely on their chefs to modify existing menu items into allergen-free items, including gluten-free. “Each guest who identifies themselves as having a food allergy is met by a chef or leader to discuss their individual needs,” say Gary Jones, Disney’s culinary dietary specialist.
    The need to do so has been evolving since the early 1990s, says Jones. In 2010, the company served 440,000 guests with special dietary needs between Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. That includes all allergies and intolerances, gluten among them.
    “Our guests with food allergies deserve to have the same experiences provided to all our guests,” says Jones.
    So, if these hotel and restaurant profiles offer any indication, it looks like the going will be a little easier for gluten-free folks on the move into the foreseeable future.


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