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Jefferson Adams posted an article in Gluten-Free Food Ingredient Labeling RegulationsCeliac.com 02/06/2015 - Australia is home to some of the most stringent gluten-free product standards in the world. Under current standards, all “gluten free" products sold in Australia must contain about three parts or fewer per million. The food industry would like the standard set at 20 parts per million, which would bring Australia into line with the United States, and the EU. Moreover, Coeliac Australia, a major celiac advocacy group, has suggested that Australia’s strict standards are becoming unworkable, as improved tests permit detection of smaller and smaller amounts of the gluten protein. The group has signaled an openness to the industry plan to lower the standards to 20ppm gluten content. Such a move would allow a much wider range of products to be sold in Australia as “gluten-free, ” but would potentially impact hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer from celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity, many of whom who fear it will save money for manufacturers while triggering severe illnesses in their population. The push to change the definition of "gluten free” is being driven by the food and grocery council, which includes major grocery chain Coles. Coles happens to be one of Coeliac Australia’s biggest sponsors. However, in the face of vociferous opposition to such changes, Coeliac Australia has backtracked from its initial support, and has announced that it will now review its position. What do you think? Is Australia’s gluten-free standard too tough? Will it be better to change the standard to match that of the U.S. and the E.U.? Or would it be better to change American and European standards to match Australia. Share your thoughts below. Read more at SMH.com.
Jefferson Adams posted an article in Additional Celiac Disease ConcernsCeliac.com 03/18/2016 - An Australian man's fight to force his local pub to provide gluten-free gravy to go with his gluten-free New Year meal made it all the way to that country's Federal Circuit Court, before a judge brought the man's quest to an ignoble end by pronouncing the suit "frivolous," and dismissing it entirely. The man in the center of the battle is Bruce Skeen, an elderly gentleman with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Mr. Skeen's travails began when he paid $1 to attend Christmas function at Blacktown Workers Club in December 2013. For the Christmas function, Skeen pre-ordered a gluten-free meal and gluten-free dessert, despite never having done so in the past. When his gluten-free roast dinner arrived without gluten-free gravy, Mr. Skeen became "angry and disruptive." One week later, Mr Skeen returned to the club, where he became "physically and verbally aggressive" towards staff as he placed another order for a gluten-free meal and demanded gluten-free gravy be served at the upcoming New Year's Eve function. When he did not receive his gluten-free gravy he had demanded, he later sued the club for discrimination. Skeen's suit was dismissed as frivolous by the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney last month. Suing establishments for discrimination over failure to provide gluten-free foods seems to be on the rise lately, and not just in America. What do you think? Is Mr. Skeen helping the cause of celiacs, or is he perhaps doing more harm than good? Source: SMH.com.au
Jefferson Adams posted an article in Conferences, Publicity, Pregnancy, Church, Bread Machines, Distillation & BeerCeliac.com 07/18/2013 - If you brew a bunch of beer using traditional wheat and barley, then add enzymes to break down gluten proteins so that the final product tests negative for gluten, is the beer actually gluten-free? Should it be labeled as gluten-free? Many brewmasters, and some with celiac disease say 'yes.' Others, including government regulators say 'no.' That's the root of the big fight brewing between Oregon brewmasters at Craft Brew Alliance and U.S. government regulators over what kinds of beer can and cannot be labeled gluten-free. On the one hand, numerous brewmasters are now brewing beer with traditional barley, and then using an enzymatic process to break down the gluten proteins so that the final product has no detectable levels of gluten. Some regulators, and some gluten-free beer drinkers accept this approach, some do not. The U.S. government does not, and federal alcohol regulators have barred Craft Brew from calling Omission "gluten-free" outside Oregon. Currently, Craft Brew Alliance can label their Omission beers as 'gluten-free' only in Oregon, Canada, and Denmark. However, the regulators have said that the company can label their product as 'gluten-removed,' rather than gluten-free.' U.S. regulators argue that labeling beers made with wheat and/or barley as 'gluten-free' is likely to mislead consumers. They also add concerns about the small fragments of gluten that do remain in the final product. There simply isn't enough evidence to show that these beers are safe for people with celiac disease in the same way that beers made from gluten-free ingredients are safe. Recent tests by Canada's public health agency did show gluten fragments in beers from Spain and Belgium that use a gluten-removal process similar to the one used by Craft Brew for Omission beers. It's unclear whether the fragments are a health concern, Health Canada spokeswoman Blossom Leung said via email. In fact, some gluten-free individuals have had reactions that they attribute to such beers, though others have not. Could this be a sensitivity to the broken-down fragments of gluten protein? That important question remains unanswered. In the U.S., all sides are currently awaiting new rules by the FDA, which should provide labeling guidance for such cases. Since 2007, the FDA has considered allowing foods with less than 20 parts per million of gluten to be labeled "gluten-free." But its final proposal, now under review by the OMB, would prohibit such labeling on foods where no valid test exists to determine safety. Under such a rule, beers like Omission could not be labeled as 'gluten-free,' but could be labels as 'gluten-removed.' Craft Beers calls that part of the prospective rule "unnecessarily rigid." What do you think? Have you tried these kinds of beers? Do you support labeling them gluten-free, or should they be labeled 'gluten-removed?' Do we need to know more about possible adverse effects from these kinds of beers before we can say for sure?
Amy Leger posted an article in Additional Celiac Disease ConcernsCeliac.com 10/29/2008 - Equality. That’s all any parent wants for his or her child. In this case I’m talking about food at school. Are you completely frustrated that you can’t get a gluten-free lunch for your child at school? According to a recent survey by the American Celiac Disease Alliance, many parents of celiac children may feel the same way. The survey conducted during the summer of 2008, found of 2,200 respondents, 90% had to regularly pack gluten-free lunches for their celiac child. I used to be one of them and was stuck feeling like I was banging my head against a wall trying to get a few hot lunches for my child. That goal of equality saw me through a journey — years in the making — that would eventually pay off. Just before my celiac daughter’s kindergarten year began, I thought I covered all my bases. I talked to the school nurse, Emma’s teacher, and the head of the cafeteria about her condition and her diet. I found there was very little she could have at school except beef tacos, which she loved. Eventually that one menu item, which made my daughter feel just like the rest of the kids, vanished; a near tragedy for her, sheer frustration for me. I would ask myself “Why do the schools have to serve up so much food with gluten?” I also didn’t feel like I was taken seriously by the cafeteria employees. I housed some small gluten-free food items in the freezer at school in case of emergency. That expensive food was thrown away, with no one even realizing they did it. That told me, they weren’t paying attention. And I was done. It seemed as though Emma was destined for cold lunches until she graduated from high school. Honestly, school lunches may not be the perfect meals for our children, but suddenly many parents feel an urgency to feed them school food when their celiac child starts to feel left out. The good news is: times may be changing. Sherri Knutson, Student Nutrition Services Coordinator for the Rochester, Minnesota School District, and her staff have developed a monthly gluten-free, menu for students. “We’re making it come together…to meet the needs of the student,” Knutson said. It is more like students! As many as 20 children every day order from this menu which actually mirrors the “regular” monthly menu, including gluten-free chicken nuggets, spaghetti and hamburgers WITH a bun. Knutson says they started slow in 2004, offering only a few gluten-free options each week and then expanded from there. Offering the menu comes at a cost – to the district. Officials with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the school lunch program, say schools cannot charge parents more for specialized, expensive diets. A regular school lunch in that district costs $2.05, but the gluten-free lunch costs about double. Knutson’s district essentially “eats” the cost. “Cost is not one of the factors that should impact [implementing this diet in schools].” But she admits they look into finding ways to cut costs, like baking their own gluten-free goodies. Now word is spreading about this groundbreaking menu. Knutson says she is getting calls from school districts across the country asking her how she does it. Her answer is simple, start small and do what you can. She also asks parents to be understanding and patient; accommodating the gluten-free diet is very new for most school districts. My conversation with Knutson was enlightening and empowering, but back at home I was struggling with my own district. There were times in the last four years, where I wondered if the district even cared about my daughter’s health and nutrition needs. After months of many unanswered emails and phone calls with my district nutrition department in late 2007 and early 2008, I finally called my school board member to get some attention. That one phone call got the ball rolling. In the six months since, I have had several meetings with key employees in the district and school. My district also appointed a coordinator for specialized diets who works directly with schools that have special food requirements for certain students. In October of 2008, I saw a first draft if it’s two-week, gluten-free menu. The nutritionist I work with tells me it is just the beginning. I am so pleased and proud of them for finally taking some much-needed action. It is amazing how far you can come with a lot of work, tenacity and passion for equality. If you are in the same situation that I was, I urge you to take action. If your school cook won’t help you, go to the district nutrition director, if they won’t help you go to the superintendent, if they won’t help you go to the school board, and if they won’t help you, contact the education department in your state. That group may oversee statewide compliance of USDA rules. I was able to get this done without a 504 plan for my child. Simply put, a 504 plan is detailed paperwork which gets you the needed accommodations for your child and their diet. You may need to create a 504 plan to push along the lunch changes for your child. Watch for much more on this important issue in upcoming posts. I cannot guarantee you will get drastic changes in lunch offerings from your district, so if you are still in a slump, check out the American Celiac Disease Alliance. Serving specialized diets in school is a hot topic right now and the ACDA is trying to advocate for all of us. Your child has a right to eat school food. And this is one food fight – worth getting in on! *For much more information on the Rochester, MN School District’s Gluten Free menu, see this article I wrote for FoodService Director Magazine in September 2008.