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Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this post. I do not make any profit off of this information, I am just a concerned consumer and mother trying to alert others to unethical companies labeling gluten-containing food as safe.
One of the biggest problems you face when you have a food allergy or celiac disease is that you have no choice but to trust the companies that provide your foods. There is currently no home-based test kit that is reasonably priced. We have been at the mercy of these companies to be honest and ethical.
Going Grain-Free Won’t Help You
Even if you only use a packaged or processed product in emergencies or on rare occasion in lieu of eating out, you must trust your producers. Going grain-free or packaged product-free doesn’t solve the issue. You still must trust your supplier of salt, spices, meats, fats, starches, sweeteners and the like that these products are not run on shared equipment and are safe for you.
Producing all of your own food is a laudable goal, however it is impractical for most people. We have no choice, no matter our diet, to have suppliers that are ethical and trustworthy.
The term ‘gluten-free’ on a package is unregulated by the government. As far as I am aware, there is no other consequence to these companies lying to us other than some customers might be angry. They realize that, in all likelihood, most of their gluten-free customers won’t find out about their lies.
Therefore, it is imperative that as a gluten-free customer, we hold these companies’ feet to the fire. Unfortunately, the burden falls to the consumer in absence of ethics in a company.
If they’re playing fast and loose with gluten, which carries known risks, I would question what other quality standards these companies are also skimping on and lying about.
It is known that long-term exposure to gluten when you have celiac disease can contribute to the development of accessory issues, including things like malnutrition, osteoporosis, depression, repeat miscarriage or infertility and cancer. These companies are playing hard and loose with our lives. Short term, an exposure has miserable consequences, but the long term consequences could potentially be devastating or deadly.
Even if you don’t show a physical reaction when you are exposed, your immune system is still activated. Your immune system is in search of things the size of a virus or a bacteria. Even one molecule of gluten is far larger than any virus or bacteria.
The Solution? Get a Watchdog
For this reason, I recently joined a website called Gluten-Free Watchdog. I saw Karina’s Kitchen post about it on her Facebook page so I decided to see what all of the fuss was about. I am glad that I did.
Gluten-Free Watchdog does independent, third-party testing of products labeled gluten-free. They purchase the products from a local store and test at least three samples of each product. Sometimes they test more. Then they publish the full results of each of the tests on their website. You subscription fee helps to pay for the testing.
I was shocked with what I have found.
No, I was outraged. Betrayed. I was beyond angry.
Hidden Gluten in Gluten-Free Foods
I saw that in independent, third-party tests, some of the products I rely on in my kitchen at least on rare occasion contain as much as a few hundred parts per million of gluten in their tests. I had suspected one of the products, but some of the others came as a surprise. I have now eliminated two companies well-known for producing gluten-free products from my shopping list because at least one of their products tested as containing gluten.
I wrote to both companies last week and have not heard back from either. I am not surprised but I am disappointed.
As part of the terms of my subscription, I can not reveal the specifics of the test results contained on the website. Please don’t ask me to name the companies, the products or give details on the rest results. I would encourage you to subscribe and view the results for yourself. Doing so will support this company and their work.
If you are gluten-free or cook for a gluten-free family member, I strongly encourage you to consider a subscription to Gluten-Free Watchdog. Since companies won’t be ethical and police themselves, we must rely on such measures to keep ourselves safe. Five dollars a month is a reasonable contribution to helping ensure your own health.
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