As many of you know, periodically we send out some of our food to a lab for allergen testing. Even though our facility is free of allergens, we also count on suppliers to provide us with some ingredients. Periodically testing our products gives us that extra confidence. (you can see report at the bottom)
This time we tested our Chocolate Cupcakes, “Rye” Bread and a Blue Menu Cheese Pizza. We have the lab test for the following allergens: Peanut, Almond, Egg, Hazelnut, Total Milk Protein, Casein Protein, Gliadin (Gluten) Walnut, Shellfish (Crustacea), Soy, Sesame, Cashew and Pistachio.
It is important to understand how testing works. The lab has a very specific way of testing food for the presence of allergens. The results come back in ppm (parts per million). I am going to make this as simple as possible to understand. The first thing you need to understand is that zero ppm does not exist; below, I explain why.
When an item is being tested, they assume it is at 0 ppm of the allergen. They take the sample and inject 2.5 ppm (or some quantity) of the allergen into it. Then they test it to see how many ppm of the allergen it contains. If it comes back at 2.5ppm, then there is no allergen detected..because they put 2.5ppm of the allergen into the food item. If it comes back at 5ppm. they know it contained 2.5 ppm of the allergen before injecting the allergen into it. For an item to be called GF it must test less than 20ppm of gluten.
Some companies are certified to 10ppm (GIG), we are certified to 5ppm by the Celiac Support Association. These companies who give GF Certification require the company to test their products and they charge the company an annual fee to stay in compliance. Companies that do this are those that take it seriously! Remember, the federal law only encourages companies making a GF Claim to test their products..it is not required by the law and the type of testing is not mandated either. Look for CSA seal or GIG seal to be sure it is GF!
So, when you hear people saying that they want 0 ppm test results; it is just not possible. The test results show what the Detection Limit is (as low as the lab can go at detection) and the Methods they used to test the product. Usually it ranges between 2.0 and 2.5 ppm. For gluten the testing can only go as low as about 5ppm.
How do I visually understand a Part Per Million?
“If you divide a pie equally into 10 pieces, then each piece would be a part per ten; for example, one-tenth of the total pie. If, instead, you cut this pie into a million pieces, then each piece would be very small and would represent a millionth of the total pie or one part per million of the original pie. If you cut each of these million minute pieces into a thousand little pieces, then each of these new pieces would be one part per billion of the original pie. To give you an idea of how little this would be, a pinch of salt in ten tons of potato chips is also one part (salt) per billion parts (chips).” *SOURCE: Cornell click here for more
When gluten is being tested, it is a little bit different. If they are testing Gliadin; only 50% of gluten is available as gliadin…so to calculate the results you need to multiply the gliadin ppm by 2! So, if it is 2.5 on gliadin, it would be 5 ppm for gluten.
Testing is not cheap, this round of testing cost several thousand dollars. Here is what our testing results looks like!