Our Food Testing Results; How Labs Test Food for Allergens

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! 

pass-with-flying-colors

tests-feb-2017

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Gluten Free Watchdog

Many customers ask me how I learn about unsafe gluten free items so I decided to share this incredible site with you.  Gluten Free Watchdog randomly purchases and tests products for the presence of gluten.  Every week I get emails from them with test results of the products they have tested.  They test items based on what their subscribers want them to test and they test items randomly as well.

This is how I found out that GF Cheerios were not really GF. (see 2 previous blog posts)  I had heard this from many customers as well..telling me how sick they got when they tried them.  It all made sense when I read GF Watchdog’s report on them and how they are not using certified GF oats and they are not using solid testing methods to test the product.  I also learned about a Teff Flour today that is testing higher than 50ppm and it is Certified GF!

How does this happen?  How do you find out about it?

It is easy, just sign up on their website.  The cost is $5 per month and you get more than what you pay for from this invaluable service.

Click Here to Learn More

Non Hybridized Wheat and Spelt

Okay, the subject on “non hybridized wheat and spelt” comes up time and time again so I thought I would set the record straight for all of you.  I had a good laugh last week.  At first it was not funny..I was actually concerned. So here is the story and I am going to use this as a learning experience for you all.

A customer came in saying she had to eat gluten-free (GF). She went on to say that she eats healthy GF breads made with Spelt; also known as Farro or Dinkel.  She wanted to make sure my breads contained this “healthy” Spelt in them.  I think she wanted to educated me about healthy GF eating. I explained to her that we are a GF Facility and that Spelt is NOT Gluten-Free and not allowed in my facility!  She  was stunned.  We were very busy and I was going to try to talk with her further but she just walked out. Maybe she was embarrassed because her husband looked stunned when I said Spelt was not GF.

A person with Celiac Disease (CD) or Gluten Sensitivity (GS) or Wheat Allergy cannot eat Spelt and cannot eat Non Hybridized Wheat when they are traveling in Europe!  I hear so much garbage about this from customers and people on the internet.

Spelt/Farro/Dinkel is gluten. Non Hybridized ancient grains are just as toxic to a Celiac as the modern grains! PERIOD.

There are nuns in Europe producing “GF” Communion Wafers with non-hybridized wheat that they are saying is Celiac Safe.  Wrong. It is testing at 80 ppm….it is not safe folks! There is a safe GF Host out there gang. If your church won’t get it, you can choose to abstain! (I have done several posts on this)

No, I don’t take communion at church and I think GOD is okay with that decision. I could take communion and be sick for ten days and not be able to supply safe meals to those with CD and Food Allergies.  OR    I can skip communion and continue helping others suffering from CD and FA)  Mmmmm, this decision is “no brainer” for me and I don’t think there is a GOD who would hold this against me.

Eating Ancient Grains in Europe: I have heard gluten sensitive people say they went to Europe and ate “ancient non-hybridized wheat” and drank beer and they were fine. Really?  A Celiac would not do this.  So, to the GS folks who do this; maybe you just felt great because the food is so much fresher and not filled with junk and preservatives like it is here so it can sit on a shelf or a sidewalk and remain unchanged for a year!

food-festivals

Modern Wheat Breeding Does Not Contribute to Gluten Toxicity! (ie, the breeding of modern wheat is not what is causing CD or GS or allergies)

-Stay safe and don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

-Don’t believe that GF Cheerios are really GF.

-If you have CD, GS, Wheat, Rye or Barley Allergies, you should not eat Spelt,  Ancient Grains, or “GF Cheerios”. Period! (lots of posts about Cheerios on my blog)

http://naturalsciencenews.com/2016/12/13/modern-wheat-breeding-practices-do-not-contribute-to-gluten-toxicity/

Confessions of a Menu Hopper; Grotto Pizza!

So, every now and then we get menu mailers sent to our home from our local restaurants. I always study them and drool over stuff that I know I can’t have unless I make it myself. I know it is probably not a good thing to do; actually; it is depressing. I sarcastically refer to this habit as “Menu Hopping”!   Yup folks, there is coupon clipping, bar hopping and for those with food allergies and/or Celiac Disease..there is menu hopping…where we can only look at the pictures. We just do this to ourselves sometimes.

This week we got one of these glossy menus from Grotto Pizza. If you are not familiar with them; this place is legendary. The original  was Joe’s Grotto in Harvey’s Lake, PA. Dominick got his start working there (his brother in law’s place) and my x- husband grew up there. My kids loved Joe’s Grotto. Mike always got the mushroom and green pepper pizza and he will tell you it is not the same here as it is in Harvey’s Lake! Then they expanded to the Delaware Beaches, Ocean City, MD and then to Columbia and Gambrills, MD and there are a bunch in PA.  After drooling, I looked for their Gluten Free (GF) or Allergen Free (AF) offerings. They are offering a gluten free pizza with no promises and no warnings about cross contact. On the back of the tri-fold menu it says:

“** Menu items and prices are subject to change. Warning: some menu items may contain peanut oil, peanuts, shellfish and or milk products…..” .

My thought was; “wow, that is not really saying anything”. I could not help but wonder how safe it might be for a Celiac or person with Food Allergies.  So, I went to their website.  There is nothing other than a spread sheet listing which of the top 8 allergens or gluten are present in each dish. Nothing about cross contact and how they might actually be able to keep the GF pizza GF! Nothing about how they handle allergens.  I was surprised but know I am out of the loop because I am either here at the cafe, deli and bakery or at home. ( I know, I don’t have much of a life outside of here.)

To further inflict misery on myself, I decided to delve further to see how much a person would pay for a pizza that may not really be GF and there is no promise that it will be GF.  To my surprise I found that we are cheaper!

Grotto’s Cheese GF Pizza    9″ Personal (63.58 sq inches)      12″ Regular (113.17 sq inches)

$10.99  (.17 inch)                         $15.99 (.14 inch)

 

ODC Cheese GF Pizza             12″x 9″ Small (108 sq inches)     12″x 16″ Large (192 sq inches)

$16.49    (.15 inch)                       $25.75 (.13 inch)

saving of 1.26 on this pizza         saving $1.13 on this pizza

and you have leftovers!                and you have leftovers!

How fun was this gang? ODC is making it taste better, making it safely and saving you money. What is not to like? I know I won’t say this often in my life; thanks Joe’s Grotto for making me drool and look good at the same time! I think I will try to do this once a month and call it “Monthly Menu Hopping”; what do you think gang?  Also, do any of you do this to yourself?

baby drooling
First I felt like this
baby-drool 3
Then I was like this
baby-drooling-black-background
Finally I was like this!

 

Public Perception Of Celiac/Food Allergies

restaurant-gluten-free-joke

We all get to that place of utter frustration when it comes to dining out safely.  We walk away shaking our head saying “they just don’t get it”. Why is it so hard to eat out safely and how can we educate the public in order to change this? Let’s explore our plight and several ways that we can change the public’s perception.

Those who have Celiac Disease feel this frustration but we need to remember how much easier it is for those with Celiac Disease (CD) or Gluten Sensitivity (GS) than it is for those with life threatening Food Allergies (FA).  If you have both; it can be next to impossible to dine out. Those with Autism experience this when they put their child on a gluten-free or other special diet.

I feel like the Celiac Community just wants it all and they want it now; not really understanding why it is so hard for a restaurant to safely feed them. (Keep reading, I will tell you the top 4 obstacles to safe food)  Many clearly expect every restaurant to be able to safely serve their dietary needs.  For those with severe food allergies, they know it is life or death for them, so they don’t make such a big deal about it and simply choose to go without because it is safer. Yes, it is hard if you have CD or GS but it is even harder to have FA and that is why those with FA don’t take risks dining out because most places really don’t get it.  Think about it Celiacs; if cross contamination could kill you, would it be worth all of the risks that you take when dining out?

Where is the awareness? In Maryland they passed a Food Allergy Bill, but it is only voluntary. Only 3 of more than 30k restaurants took the training! Mmmm, it seems like the serious nature of a Food Allergy or Celiac Disease is not getting through to the general public.

Then, last month, Ted Cruz (running for president of the US) made an uninformed comment promising that he would not support the military supplying Gluten Free (GF) MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) to those who needed them. MRE’s are often used when deployed in remote areas.  This comment hit close to home for me and shows just how ignorant the masses are about Celiac Disease and Food Allergies. (A person with a wheat allergy would need GF MRE’s). I thought to myself; how can anyone be so uninformed? Yet, as I pondered this, Ted Cruz is certainly not alone when it comes to his ignorance about Celiac Disease or Food Allergies.

On Sunday, a friend and customer, Ben Andrasik, stopped in the cafe for a meal and some treats for his kids.  Ben served two tours of duty with the military in Afghanistan and wrote a book about his struggle and survival without GF meals. It gave us a chance to catch up and chat about some things. We discussed the public perception and we both feel that biggest struggle we face is lack of public awareness or understanding of the seriousness of Celiac Disease and Food Allergies. (You can read Ben’s book here at our cafe, it is in our library and it is called Gluten Free in Afghanistan by Cpt B. Donald Andrasik. You will have a chance to win a copy of his book at the end of this post.)

Contrary to what you might think; you can serve in the military if you have Celiac Disease. They just don’t go out of their way to safely feed you.  However, the military will accommodate a person who chooses to be vegan. Mmmmm.

 

The Top 4 Obstacles to Safe Food:

-# 1 Lack of Education of the general public about the seriousness of Celiac Disease and Food Allergies. The general public only hears about people eating gluten free as a diet trendnot as the only prescription to treat Celiac Disease.  In my opinion, that area is where our Celiac non-profits are failing us. The general public does not think Food Allergies are serious until someone they love has an anaphylactic reaction and this is shocking to me.

Let’s explore some statistics in the chart below. Notice how many Americans are living with Celiac, Food Allergies and Autism. Then look at the other diseases and how many are living with them. The numbers are far less for the rare diseases, but we all know what those rare diseases are and would not diminish their legitimacy or the prescription given to those who suffer from them! Since when does the only “prescription” to treat a disease come only in a “pill” or “injection” form from a pharmaceutical company? Why does the lack of a “pill” make Celiac Disease and the Gluten Free Diet not a legitimate disease and treatment?

I put this graphic together back in 2010 and it is still relevant today with a few updates to it…but it is still shocking.

CDGSAutismAllergies Photo

Given the numbers above, you would think that Celiac Disease and Food Allergies would be a top priority in the United States, but they are not viewed as legitimate by the mainstream public! Lets look at the totals as compared to Type 1 Diabetes:

Celiac Disease: 3 Million plus  18 Million Gluten Sensitive  = 21 Million

Food Allergies: 9 Million Adults plus 6 Million Children      = 15 Million

                                                                                                   Total = 36 Million Total

Type 1 Diabetes:                                                                               = 3 Million Total

How did we learn about many of the above rare diseases? Were we taught about them in high school? No. Did we have a family member with one? Possibly.  Primarily, we learned what those rare diseases were by their non-profit organizations and foundations raising awareness in mainstream media; via ads in TV, mainstream magazines and newspapers.

Remember Jerry Lewis doing telethons every Labor Day weekend for Muscular Dystrophy?  We hear about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), who did not see the “bucket challenge” last year?  All of the above rare diseases have gotten the word out because their non-profit foundations are utilizing mainstream media in addition to marketing to those affected by the disease.

There are just as many people living with Celiac Disease as there are with Diabetes..many have Celiac too, but you would never know it when it comes down to the attention given to each! If Type 1 Diabetes could only be treated by diet and there was no insulin, you bet your “arse”  restaurants would be pandering to this population.  However, Diabetics have two Rx’s; diet and/or insulin. Diabetics control diet by counting carbohydrates & reducing sugar.  Sugar and carbohydrates are required to be disclosed on nutritional labels making it much easier for a person to manage their diabetes.  Yet, a Celiac must avoid Gluten, and is not required to be disclosed on labels. Mmmmm.

#2: Gluten is not required to be labeled or disclosed on nutritional labels. This is the main reason that mainstream restaurants struggle to feed Celiac’s safely! Yes, the Gluten Free Labeling Law passed; but it is not mandatory; it is voluntary only. In the US they only have to disclose wheat! Rye and barley don’t need to be disclosed and gluten can hide in many forms, natural flavors is one place. Mainstream products don’t need to tell you if there is gluten in them or not, they tell you if they want to!  In the US, they have to tell you if the recipe includes the top 8 allergens: wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish. Did you notice that rye and barley are not on the required list? (In Europe and Canada this is less of a problem because they label gluten and many additional allergens).

The #3 Reason: Manufacturing companies don’t need to prevent cross contamination! Yes, you read that correctly.  They only have to tell you what is purposely put in the product and if it contains the top 8 allergens. They don’t have to tell you if they accidentally contaminated the product with any allergens or anything else when processing or packaging.  They are also allowed to use the term “natural flavors”; so they don’t give away their “secret” ingredients; which could be anything!

#2 and #3 are why mainstream restaurants can’t safely feed you!  Really, come on, why would you expect them to get it right given the above? Are you having a light bulb moment?

The #4 Reason: We are not being heard by the general public! Currently, our associations are only getting the word out in media that is targeted at those of us already living with Celiac Disease or Food Allergies! We will never be taken seriously if the mainstream public is not educated and the mainstream media is only talking about Gluten-Free Fad Diets rather than Celiac Disease &/or Food Allergies.

Open any GF/AF Magazine and you usually see an ad from one of our associations. However, you don’t see this type of ad in mainstream publications.  So, when a person running for president of the US is clueless about Celiac Disease and does not know that the GF Diet is the only Rx for it..that tells me our message is not being heard by the general public.

On the contrary; if Ted Cruz made a remark like that about diabetics and pledged not to provide insulin or a low carbohydrate MRE’s for diabetics in the military and did not know what diabetes was; we would all say he is clueless and not fit to run for president being so un-informed! The world knows about diabetes. The world and the mainstream media don’t know about Celiac Disease or the seriousness of it because our message is not being heard!  Isn’t that amazing when there are just as many people with Celiac Disease! (not to mention Gluten Sensitivity and Wheat Allergies)

How Do We Get the Attention Needed for Celiac and Food Allergies?

We can whine and complain about not being respected but that does us no good.  What we need to do is demand that our support associations spend some of our donations on a media campaign to get the word out into the mainstream. If you flip through a gluten free magazine or food allergy magazine you see ads for associations.  I would love to see those ads in Time Magazine, People Magazine or in major newspapers. They would just need to gear the ad towards the seriousness and symptoms, thus creating awareness.  By putting the advertising money into mainstream news media; the public will be educated about the seriousness of our plight. It will raise awareness and diagnosis rates! (The Autism community has done a great job about getting their message heard). Even my local Quest Diagnostics advertises symptoms of Celiac Disease and the blood test for it in a big poster in their waiting room.

Our dining out problems won’t be solved until there is a ODC Cafe, Deli, Bakery in every major city or if we change our labeling laws, manufacturing regulation and educate the public about Celiac & Allergens..

Beaver and Wally

“Gee, Wally, I wonder which one will happen first?

“Ah, come on Beaver, I am thinking more ODC’s!”

Without comprehensive changes in all four areas, it is useless. Example: the voluntary GF Labeling Law is not currently enforced because it is voluntary without oversight. Hence; General Mills recalled 1.8 million boxes of not really GF Cheerios.  Mmmmm.

-The general public must be educated about the seriousness of Celiac/Food Allergies.

-We must have stricter labeling; mandatory gluten disclosure and stricter food production laws in order to ensure safe food.

In the US, we united around the task of sending a man to the moon (my uncle was using a “slide rule”, before computers, to do the math in order to make it happen). Somehow, 50+ years later, we can’t unite around educating the general public or passing laws to serve safe food to those with celiac or food allergies.  I hear horror stories from customers who tell me about people saying “nobody had food allergies when I was growing up, they are just made up” or, “a little bit won’t hurt you”.  As I have said before, we can send a man to the moon but we can’t safely feed our people and that is just stupid!

How do we change this?  So, yesterday, when Capt Ben and I were catching up and discussing Ted Cruz’s comments we both agreed that the mainstream does not recognize Celiac Disease as the reason for the GF Diet. We can whine among ourselves or we can ask our associations to put some of our donations towards  a mainstream media campaign and get the word out to the general public!   With Celiac Diease Awareness Month coming up in May, Ben was kind enough to donate 10 books for me to give away for this blog post.

Here is how you win a copy:

Send me your creative suggestions on ways to get the word out and fix the 4 big problems:

  1. How can our associations get the word out to the general public about the seriousness of Celiac Disease and Food Allergies?
  2. What can each of us do to personally further our own cause by spreading awareness?

The 10 best suggestions will get a free copy of Gluten Free in Afghanistan! Email me at onedishcuisine@yahoo.com by Tuesday 4/12/16. Make sure you include your name and a way to contact you if 1 or more of your suggestions wins! (I will post the top suggestions in the next blog post)

Thanks Capt B. Donald Andrasik for your service to our country (a country who is unwilling to serve you a safe meal while you are serving us by defending our freedom)!  Gluten Free in Afghanistan is a great read and it should comfort you to know that Ben survived two tours in Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Alert: Always Read Ingredients!

Daiya.jpg

Photo: Left”Cheddar” new packaging and  Right”Swiss” old packaging.

As many of you know, having Celiac Disease and/or Food Allergies means you need to read the entire ingredient label every time.  We have to do the same thing here. I always tell people that when there is a packaging change, often, that is when a manufacturing company might change their ingredients.  This happened to us recently with Daiya brand non-dairy cheeses.

One of the common ingredients in all Daiya Products is Coconut Oil.  Many with coconut allergies will still eat this product because the coconut protein is removed during processing and many won’t even take a chance on it.  It all depends on what their allergist has told them regarding coconut oil.

A couple of weeks ago we opened a new shipment of Daiya “Cheddar Cheese” Slices and  my husband Dave noticed the new packaging and checked the ingredient label. Sure enough, the label listed “Creamed Coconut” as an ingredient and “Coconut Oil” was no longer on their ingredient list.  I immediately checked the company website and it did not list “creamed coconut” on any product.  Next, I sent an email to them inquiring and voicing my concern for those with Coconut Allergies; knowing  that”creamed coconut” would never be safe for someone with a Coconut Allergy.

The next day Daiya returned my email explaining that they had re-formulated the “Cheddar” and “Swiss” slices with creamed coconut, however, many customers like me voiced our concern and they switched back to the old recipe using coconut oil. I explained that the “Swiss” that I had was still ok and this was the first package we received with the ingredient change.  They explained that all “cheddar” and “swiss” slices will eventually be back to the old recipe, I just probably did not get a new batch until the most recent shipment.

So, if you have a Coconut Allergy and use Daiya “Swiss” or “Cheddar” slices, please read the ingredient labels.  If you have a coconut allergy and come here to dine off of our Blue Menu, we cannot give you the Daiya “Cheddar” slices until we get the original recipe back.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL!

 

 

 

Wheat Starch; More Confusion for Those with Celiac Disease or Wheat Allergy!

From January 2015 Newsletter

Gluten Free Living just published a great article about Wheat Starch stating that GF Foods in the US can now include “Wheat Starch” that was once banned from GF food.  Under the new US FDA rules, wheat starch in gluten-free foods can now be used if the wheat starch is specially processed to remove the gluten.  There are some companies that say it improves the flavor and texture in certain products and it has been used in Europe for 10 years or so.  Why is this so?  Because the new FDA rules state that a product can be called GF if the wheat, rye or barley has been processed to remove the gluten protein.

Wheat starch that has been processed to remove gluten is called “Codex Wheat Starch” and studies show that it is not harmful for those who have Celiac Disease.  When it is used in a food labeled GF, it must appear in the ingredient list and wheat will also appear in the “Contains” statement on the label.  Also, the label must state that the “wheat has been processed to allow this food to meet the FDA requirements for gluten-free foods”.  According to Pam Cureton, R.D., from the Center for Celiac Research in Boston, if the label only says “starch”, it means cornstarch. Pam went on to say that those products containing wheat starch are absolutely safe for Celiacs, but it must also state that it is GF.  As many of you know, I trust what Pam says and I go to her often when I have questions.

However, I personally won’t be using it here at One Dish Cuisine.  It raises a concern for me when it comes to customers with a wheat allergy. So, be aware out there folks especially if you have a Wheat Allergy and have been relying on gluten free products.  Dr Schar says they will be using “codex wheat starch” in some of their products.