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Gluten-Free Safety Starts Here
Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Spring 2016 Issue - Originally published April 14, 2016
Celiac.com 05/24/2016 - How many of us have suffered from cross contamination? Most celiacs have felt the side effects of getting gluten in their food. If it is not your own kitchen, utensils, pots or pans it can be a bit nerve racking. It is not only extremely unpleasant, but unhealthy to our intestines as well. It can cause damage that can be very detrimental in the long run.
This is exactly why the gluten-free label is particularly important. This gives celiacs a sense of safety, like a security blanket. However, how is that labeling decided upon? What certifications are really used? What standards are considered to ensure that it is 20 parts per million (ppm) or even less? Just think about the danger that can occur if something has to be recalled. For example, let's take a look at General Mills Cheerios versus Udi's Gluten-Free Foods.
Now, Udi's is certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which is an industry program of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG.) Whereas Cheerios, takes the oats, used to make the cereal, and puts it through a proprietary, mechanical system. This is supposed to remove any cross-contamination from wheat, barley or rye, according to General Mills. How safe is this for individuals with celiac disease? This is why standards are very vital.
Now, the GFCO requires that all finished products' ingredients, using their logo, contain 10ppm or even less of gluten. It requires a stringent review process, in order to gain approval. Plus, barley-based ingredients are absolutely not allowed, under any circumstances.
Then, you look at Cheerios and the differences are as plain as day. Recently, there was a major recall of 1.8 million boxes due to an error where a gluten ingredient was accidentally added. General Mills issued a recall of some Original Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios cereal because some boxes were labeled as gluten-free but actually contained wheat.
This is absolutely not safe for the celiac community. This improper labeling can be dangerous and there are no certifications or review processes like the GFCO. The thought of becoming ill from the cross-contamination is not on any celiac's to do list. Having certified oats versus regular oats is safer that simply having the wheat washed out. The oat fields are way too close to the wheat fields.
In the end, which would you rather purchase? There is Certified Gluten Free Foods versus just gluten-free foods. Think about your villi because they really should be up and not down!
- Udi's Gluten Free - FAQs. Retrieved from: http://udisglutenfree.com/faq/
- Gluten Intolerance Group - The Gluten-Free Certification Organization. Retrieved from http://www.gfco.org/
- CNBC - General Mills recalls 1.8M Cheerios boxes for allergens. Retrieved from http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/gluten-free-foods/diet/gluten-free-cheerios/
- Gluten Free Living - Gluten-Free Cheerios. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/05/general-mills-recalls-cheerios-for-allergen-issue.html
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Sarah Curcio is a health advocate, blogger and has a background in medical office assisting. She worked at Nutrition Treatment Center, as a Lifestyle Educator. She's also the founder and organizer, since February 2011, of Celiac and Allergy Support (www.meetup.com/allergy), which is a mutual social and self-help support group located in New Jersey.View all articles by Sarah Curcio