In yesterday’s News and Observer (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/health_science/story/295478.html), we learned of a Raleigh company that was selling food labeled gluten-free that actually contained gluten. We heard some of the stories from this past fall’s State Fair, citing Great Specialty Products sold and marketed bread with gluten by labeling it as gluten free. Wow! Scary stuff. Who can you truly trust when you cannot trust professional manufacturers of goods? What concerns me, is that Celiac Disease is not like a diet. Sure, in a diet, if you eat something that may have a few more calories, no big deal. But with gluten, we talk about side effects such as rashes, illness similar to allergy symptoms, nausea, and even worse things.
So what can parents do?
1. As always, please, please, please always take our and all blog/website posts with a grain of salt. None of us are experts in nutrition. I have no doctorate degree. Take what we say and use other resources, and make your own decisions for your families. All bloggers and web journalists try to report on products and information to the degree we can, we all have ‘horses in the race too,’ and we will not intentionally provide false information, but it can happen.
2. READ AND UNDERSTAND LABELS. Look for the good labels (like what Wal*Mart has started to do) that say GLUTEN FREE and other phrases like DOES NOT CONTAIN GLUTEN, MADE ON DEDICATED EQUIPMENT, and WHEAT FREE. If in doubt, or are not sure of all the ‘additives’ in the label, avoid that product. Better safe than sorry.
3. Use the web, but do not let that be your only resource. Lots of great information on here, but unless it is a professional/corporate website, take the advice from #1 above to heart. Many factors go into things. For a forum board, for instance, some of the posters can post from other countries. While they may give a product known in their country to be gluten free, in your country the ingredients may be slightly different, even under the same brand name. Always take that into consideration. Also, pay close attention to dates. Just because someone posted a cereal was known to be gluten free in 2006, that does not mean it still is gluten free in 2010.
4. When in doubt about something, don’t take the risk. Chances are, it may not effect you much if you consume small amounts, if you continue to consume, you can expect larger side effects. We continue to see more and more products each week labeled as gluten free, so you can definitely find lots of products without taking many risks.
Hope that helps! We must continue to stay vigilant and work together to share information. Celiac Disease, as we personally found out, and how many of you found out, does not mean a life sentence to bland food. Living with Celiac may pose some challenges, but you can do it!