Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘1 in 133’

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month

It’s May 1, which means your rent is due.

But more importantly, it’s Celiac Disease Awareness month, and in just three days, 1 in 133 will stand up to the FDA about their laziness in setting the standard for gluten-free labels.

Wish I was going to be there to snag a slice of that enormous gluten-free cake.

This WaPo article lays out why exactly this month and this event is so important. The main reason? You could be buying “gluten-free” goods that contain more than just untraceable amounts of gluten.  Canada, Brazil and Australia are already way ahead of us on this – having set the standard at 20 parts per million, meaning a food can be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. That’s the minimum amount of gluten that can be reliably detected.

And as much as I’m the kind of person who believes people will do the right thing, there’s always someone out there trying to prove me wrong.

In North Carolina two weeks ago, a man was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he was found guilty of buying regular breads and rolls and repackaging them as gluten-free under the name Great Specialty Products. Dozens of people complained of illness after eating the baked goods, including a woman who gave birth to a 31 / 2 pound baby prematurely, a complication that can result from celiac disease.

“We thought it was fantastic because it tasted just like real bread,” said Rebecca Fernandez of Raleigh, who gave it to her son, Malachy, who has celiac disease.

Within days, an angry rash covered the then-2-year-old’s body. “We thought maybe it was chickenpox,” Fernandez said. He ate the bread for two weeks, as the rash intensified and turned bloody, until Fernandez realized the problem and stopped giving him the bread. Malachy suffered from diarrhea for four more weeks.

And that’s why it’s time to make a decision.

-Taylor

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Food Labels Clearer but not Standardized

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise.  I defended my Master’s Project (which involves this very blog!) on Monday, meaning I get to graduate from J-School here at UF in just a few short weeks. It’s amazing how an event like that can suck the motivation out of you right quick and replace it with an acute but bearable sense of panic.

Aaaanyway, after a couple days of relaxing and job searching and seemingly endless grading, I’m back in happy blogger mode.

First, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the 1 in 133 campaign – aiming to standardize food labels once and for all. And since we’re on the subject of food labels, I thought I’d share an article I read from the Bellingham Herald in Bellingham, Wash. (home of the formerly fantastic indie band Death Cab for Cutie).  The original article ran in the Detroit Free Press, which I actually thought had folded. More good news!

The article approaches the topic of labeling laws in a way that we haven’t seen a lot lately, reminding us that labels are actually a lot clearer than  they used to be.

Food labeling is becoming more understandable, partly because federal law now mandates that the most common allergens be clearly listed.

The reporter, Robin Erb brings up the point that such clear labels are good for business, essentially saying, the bigger the “Gluten-free” banner, the more likely we are to buy. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members have called or texted to tell me they saw the big “gluten-free” wordage on the front of a box of Chex. On one hand it’d be great if all gluten-free foods were so loud because I (more importantly, anyone cooking for me) wouldn’t have to peer so closely down the aisles to find them. On the other hand, I’d be getting a lot more calls and texts.

But if only good comes out of these clear labels,  then why the snail’s pace when it comes to standardizing them? A string of instances in the news recently about bakers falsely labeling their products as gluten-free as me on edge as to who I can trust. Even Chex accidentally sneaks in a “Wheat” morsel from time to time.

So yes, it’s great that so many products are clearly labeled as gluten-free or, more importantly, not.  Now we need the legislation to ensure that what claims to be safe for Celiacs actually is.

-Taylor

1 in 133 Campaign Stands Up to FDA

Wedding cake, birthday cake, time-of-the-month cake–who doesn’t love cake for a good cause?

Gluten-free author/advocate Jules Shepard is encouraging everyone to stand up to the FDA for its blatant foot-dragging on the issue of food label standards  and gluten-free products.  The solution? Kill ’em with cake.

Shapard has spearheaded an organization and event dubbed “1 in 133” (the number of Americans with Celiac Disease) has been created to encourage the FDA to finalize these standards, which have been in the works since 2007.  Currently, U.S. food manufacturers can claim “gluten-free” on product labels without appropriately informing consumers if a product is truly free of all potentially harmful ingredients.

The 1 in 133 website writes:

To draw attention to the FDA’s inaction, and to galvanize the burgeoning gluten-free community, leading members of this community will host Capitol Hill legislators, noted celiac disease researchers, gluten-free community leaders and food corporations to the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit, in Washington, D.C. on May 4th, 2011. Coinciding with the newly recognized National Celiac Awareness Month, the event will also feature the world’s largest gluten-free cake – symbolizing the big deal that clear, accurate, reliable labeling plays in the lives of people dependent on labeling for their health.

The campaign encourages you to donate $11.33 (clever) to the cause for each person in your home who eats gluten-free.  The site also allows you to sign a petition and/or write to the FDA.

Read the full press release for more info.

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