Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Ongoing Risk Of Dining Out Gluten-Free



I had just recently gone out to eat in Hoboken, NJ at a restaurant that was available via FindMeGlutenFree mobile application. It had good reviews and I had been there before, awhile ago, so I knew it was a frequently visited location with a lot of gluten-free food service experience. 

We went to an early dinner and were the only people in the entire restaurant. Perhaps because it was a cold and rainy day and that may have foreshadowed the next turn of events... Part of me thought this is awesome, because I'll receive 1 on 1 attention and possibly ideal circumstances from their server and chef, to avoid issues, right? On the contrary, empty tables signify slower food moving in/out of the kitchen and that's always a nerve racking feeling that a restaurant has out dated meat, veggies, etc. 

The server, albeit he was nice and tried to assure me that a truly gluten-free experience was a ahead, said he catered to gluten-free customers often, which only made me feel a tad better because I'm always wary. We had a detailed discussion about how I had Celiac Disease and require a very carefully made gluten-free meal. He assured me that they were pros and it all sounded great until the brought out the food...

First, my meal had cheese and I didn't ask for it and the dressing wasn't gluten-free so I inquired. We had a deeper discussion about the ingredients and he brought out the questionable products in which I googled them and they were not gluten-free brands.  He then dared to tell me that he didn't know much about gluten-free but they always serve that product to patrons and never had a problem... yes his scary! scary! scary! defensive position came out. Fortunately, I avoided a major gluten conflict by asking a lot of questions during the actual meal by challenging the plate in front of me and asking the server, courteously, but effectively, to guarantee the food in front of me was indeed gluten-free. 

The truth is folks that every time you eat out, no matter how much a restaurant tries, they'll never provide a truly 100% safe gluten-free meal as you would in your own home. Each dining out experience is a risk, every time, no matter how many times you go back to the same place or try a new one from a mobile application because you get to buy the food, prep it, and cook it in your safe and controlled environment. 

Advice To Those Who Eat Out Too Often

In conclusion, please continue to eat at home 95% of the time, spoil yourself with cooking classes, upgrade your pots, pans and cutlery to protect yourself from risks of dining out. You should eat ahead of time or bring small snacks or safe bars and meals with you if you have plans out and about. And if you're going to dine out, always call ahead and get a name to hold these people accountable, and go with the safest options as possible such as fresh fruit, veggies, beverages and still tell your servers that you have food restrictions.  Don't take too many new risks and only go back to the places that have proven to be the best. Good luck out there!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trader Joe's Is Committed To FDA Gluten-Free Claims But There Are Risks


TraderJoes_FDA_GutenFree_Claim_GlutenFreeG

As a leader in the "natural" grocery world, what's the deal Trader Joe's?

I've called, emailed, tweeted and spoke to store manager/s and asked them the same question... I'm so confused with all of your random g and gluten free labels that I don't know whom/what to trust. Why are you flip flopping and sort of kinda encouraging the gluten-free fad diet movement after all of the health movements showing gluten is a real concern? Therefore, I asked them, "Do you test your gluten-free products to verify your gluten-free claims on your labels?" The answer has been in the recent months, "yes and no"...

GLUTEN FREE LABEL

Due to the FDA guidelines they're recently guaranteeing all Trader Joe's "gluten-free" labeled products are indeed tested <20 ppm and stand behind those claims with all of their co-packing partners. They work with a variety of partners on all of their Trader Joe's named products therefore it's a lot of time, resources and finances but they're following the FDA's guideline going forward. However, if you're a diagnosed Celiac and believe that you may still have a reaction to gluten <20 ppm then find other products that are certified gluten-free under <10 ppm or < 5ppm. 

TraderJoes_NoGlutenIngredients_Is_Crap_GlutenFreeG
g = NO GLUTEN INGREDIENTS 

This g was invented 15 or so years ago for the fad diet, gluten-free, that we all know is not a fad, but a legitimate health concern. Therefore, when you pick up the no gluten ingredient list inside their store you better read carefully, because this means there is a major risk of cross contamination and you should not buy these products if you're a Celiac, gluten intolerant, wheat allergy or believe that gluten has a risk to your health (all of us). They are not abolishing this labeling because it's the forefront of their identity and claim it was one of their first labeling geniuses (or lack thereof) unless we continue to ask them to remove it!

SHOULD I SUPPORT TRADER JOE'S?

Yes. If you make your opinion count! Now that you know the truth, make smarter shopping decisions and let them know you will shop there if they continue to validate their gluten-free claims. But also tell them that this no gluten ingredient labeling is simply garbage and a terrible fad of the past. Why? People who eat a little gluten or a lot still can get very ill and that's the reality of cross contamination as it's not being tested and therefore you, family or friend's health are all at risk with this poor attempt at protecting the health of the consumers of the world.  You don't always have to see or feel a symptom of gluten, there could be atrophy or auto-immune silent reactions internally and that's dangerous!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New FDA Nutritional Revision Leaves Out Gluten-Free Again





The folks at Fooducate have shared a draft of First Lady's Let's Move initiative to tweak the nutritional label for consumers to make better choices when they read labels. The conundrum with food labeling is that the majority of packaging is all product branding, butterflies, puppies, persuasive text, colors and other magical imagery. Of those consumers who decide to read the nutritional information, it requires intense concentration in store to do mathematics in their head to multiply serving size x info in the chart, attempt to understand what the % of daily value signifies and make an informed decision for themselves and their family. And who is making the decisions about what it all really means? There usually is hidden sugar, confusing fat data and lack of sourced ingredients to make a completely informed decision on whether this brand's product is any good or just another unhealthy snack that should only be eaten in moderation (at most).


Food Label Change
Anything stand out to you? Is it enough to help you make a wiser decision?

10 GOOD CHANGES and 7 DISASTROUS MISSES. 


INCLUDED

  1. Calories increased
  2. Serving size clarified
  3. Serving size based on package
  4. two columns of data
  5. Calories from fat gone
  6. Show added sugars
  7. Vitamin D and Potassium shown 
  8. Optional vitamin A and C 
  9. Changes to recommended daily value
  10. Layout easier to read

MISSING

  1. Front of pack is still all marketing lingo
  2. Caffeine listing should be stated
  3. Ingredient list upgraded and more transparent
  4. Country of origin no where found
  5. GMO info non existent and we should know
  6. Gluten-Free Labeling still not regulated
  7. Allergen Labeling should be prominently included

Share your voice and click below.


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Read Fooducate complete story for a more complex analysis. 

For a brief history about food labeling starting in 1862 read Food nutrition labeling