The 1in133 team is “knee deep in cake” building the “World’s Largest Cake” for the First Gluten Free Labeling Summit to be held in Washington D.C, tomorrow May 4th, 2011. This is a grass-roots movement of people who care about others. One of the things that I quickly learned about the gluten-free and celiac community is that they take care of their own. The FDA has failed us for years, but people who have something in common have bonded together and created an incredible worldwide community that keeps itself safe.
Websites & bloggers such as Gluten Freeville, Adventures of A Gluten Free Mom, GlutenFree Goddess and Gluten Free Girl and the Chef are just a few people who have immersed themselves into helping others find answers that even doctors have been unable to answer.
However, there is a huge obstacle that stands in many people’s way of getting better improperly labeled food. Stores, companies, etc. mistakenly believe there are “strict standards” for a “Gluten Free label.” There are strict standards if a company is Certified GlutenFree, but not by the FDA. So, what that means to us is that unless we see that little Certified symbol, any other product claiming Gluten Free might not be. Jules Shepard, one of the bakers for this event, blogged in February posted story about Post’s Gluten Free “claim” for Fruity Pebbles. You can see the article here. They claim “certified” gluten-free, but it’s their own inside certification with no written, public standards.
Walmart has started labeling some foods: “A Naturally Gluten Free Food.” Yes, the beans in the can were at some point naturally gluten-free, but what about the modified cornstarch and other things that have been added. Other companies claim “Gluten FREE!~” right on the front of the box, but then you get home, read the fine print as you are taking the item out to cook and find out the product was manufactured on equipment that shares wheat. There is NO guarantee that product is “gluten-free.” One of the biggest “gluten-free” terms lately is “No gluten Ingredients Used.” The companies are trying to get our attention by putting that, but how are we any more sure that product is safe than a product that doesn’t label that, but still doesn’t contain wheat, barley, rye, etc.
Companies are coming up with new ways to try to entice a “gluten-free” buyer. One of my favorites for a body care line (which the FDA rule would sadly not cover), or should I say one of the most insidious I’ve seen is “This original formulation does not contain gluten ingredients.” Okay, so if you read that carefully, the original recipe doesn’t contain gluten, but the end product might. In fact, the end product might even contain gluten sources if they couldn’t source the proper non-gluten ingredient. Hugo Naturals, another body care, is also claiming Gluten Free on hair & body products that contain OAT. While Oat doesn’t contain gluten, it’s guilty by association, and even the certified gluten-free oats can cause severe cross-reactivity in some ultra sensitive people. I have seen “Oat” listed in “GlutenFree” claimed foods as well, and they are not listed as certified Gluten Free oats, nor does the product show a certification.
Although I don’t believe the government solves problems well, and I think they often create more than they solve, I do think it’s time they create a standard. Companies are finding all sorts of ways to claim gluten-free, or have the appearance of GlutenFree, without going to the trouble, cost, or even effort to ensure the product is truly gluten-free. They slap the label on, or use fancy wording to try to convince customers their product is safe. The FDA comes down hard on vitamin and supplement companies who claim any sort of “cure” or “treatment.” Yet, they allow companies to get away with claiming “gluten-free” when a product is not and it hurts and makes people sick.
I hope the 1in133 team is successful for several reasons: companies are beginning to tread the line between a false claim and outright fraud; it needs to be stopped. Consumers need a standard from which to base their decisions on. It’s tiresome to read though all the ingredients to try to also find “modified food starch” or barely, rye, malt, etc. wheat is listed in allergen statements, but I’m tired of the headaches I get from trying to figure out if a food has the other ingredients. Finally, they are fighting for everyone in the celiac and gluten-free community. Most of us tweet, blog, etc to share our experiences with others. We fight for each other, we look out for each other. The other day, I tweeted about a mis-labeling at a store. The product contained wheat; I mentioned the store b/c they follow me and I wanted them to be aware, I took a picture. I tweeted it. Why, because I don’t want anyone else to pick up that package take it home, make it, and feed it to their celiac husband or child.
It’s time the FDA took action because the hidden gluten in food is poison to those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. My only hope is the standard will be a true standard. The standard for “trans-fat free” is a joke as the FDA allows a signifcant amount of transfats in a product to still be claimed “trans-fat free.” Furthermore, they allow for any serving size. Some companies claim something like 5 potato chips for a serving size so that they can use that “transfat free” claim. Who eats 5 potato chips? Maybe someone who’s very good at Weight Watchers, but more people eat a lot more. The FDA needs to have a clean, realistc standard for this regulation.
1in133 has set out to bring awareness to the FDA that gluten is poison to at least 1 out of 133 people. Please support them, continue to sign the petition, and make sure to include there shouldn’t be any loopholes allowed as the FDA has allowed for in the past. Keep an eye on 1in133 site tomorrow and follow them on Facebook.They will post pictures of the action! Continue to support the effort as well, and have a fantastic day. Good luck 1in133 at the Summit, and thank you for what you’ve done.