By Sue Newell
Canadian Celiac Association
Many people tell me that even though the ingredient list seems safe, they call the company anyway. Sometimes they ask if the product is produced on dedicated lines, sometimes they ask if there is gluten in the product or in the plant.
They get a variety of answers; the most common seems to be “we don’t add gluten but cannot guarantee what our suppliers do”, and this is frequently interpreted as “there is gluten in that product”, which isn’t what it means at all.
In the most interesting cases you get a completely wrong answer. Annie of Ottawa shared her experience on Facebook. She called President’s Choice about PC Sprinkle Party Cake Ice Cream and was told that there were pieces of cake in the ice cream. She was puzzled about the answer because the ingredient list did not contain any of the ingredients needed for cake (eggs and flour at a minimum). She called back later to get another service agent and got the same answer – there are pieces of pound cake in the ice cream.
Either this was a monumental labeling failure with a missing priority allergens (egg) as well as gluten sources OR the customer service message was completely wrong. Annie contacted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and asked for an investigation.
After a few days, CFIA let her know that there were NO traces of gluten in the product. It turns out that the formula for this product just changed. Customer service had the old message, not the new one. Equally important, they had no idea that there was a change in the product.
Unfortunately, we have few ways of knowing whether the answers we get from a customer service agent are correct or not. I suspect that the intent of many of the messages to get us to hang up and not eat the product, so as to not cost the company any more money. Large companies have departments responsible for making sure their products met various government regulations, but updating customer service is usually not part of their responsibility. When that falls on a busy product manager, it isn’t always a high priority.
The idea of “we cannot guarantee that our incoming ingredients are not contaminated” is really a “duh” statement. The key word in the sentence is “guarantee”. The idea many gluten-free consumers take away is “it is contaminated”. Unfortunately, they then tend to share the information with others, continuing to spread the inaccurate conclusions.
If a company is able to make a gluten-free claim, it will be on the package. Expecting a customer service agent to go off-script and make a claim with legal ramifications is not realistic and it isn’t really a good use of your time or the company’s time.
Maybe it is time to either trust ingredient lists or to give up on processed food. It will definitely reduce your stress levels.
Please join us this
Sunday September 13th, 2015
at the Lake Country Seniors Activity Centre,
9832 Bottom Lake Road
The doors open at 12:00 noon,
and lunch is served about 12:30 pm.
Please bring your gluten-free potluck dishes, with recipes and/or sources.
We ask adults for a toonie to help defray the hall rental costs.
We are trying to be ‘green’ so please bring your own dishes mugs and cutlery!
Our condolences and thoughts are with Penticton member Norma Titheridge who lost her loving husband Bill on Thursday.
Bill Titheridge was a long-time member of the chapter and he and Norma regularly attended our chapter potlucks. They were instrumental to the chapter in the Penticton area. Many of you may remember Bill bringing the raffle bucket table-to-table for the potluck draw at our chapter potlucks.
By Sue Newell, CCA National Office Staffer
It would have been hard to miss the news from the University of Alberta over the last few weeks: Scientists find enzymes that break down gluten so celiacs can eat pizza and beer! If you just read the brief news reports, it all sounded great. It would be great if it was true. Right now, it is a “good idea, hope it works, looking forward to hearing the results of your trials a few years from now”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make good headlines.
There are a number of potential drugs in the formal drug testing pipeline to add to the current treatment for celiac disease. Some CCA members have already taken part in the trials. There are many more ideas floating around that theoretically have a good chance of working. None of them are on the market yet and all need more rounds of formal testing before they could ever be approved by Health Canada.
There is one type of product on the market right now. Gluten Ease, Gluten Cutter, Gluten Aid, Gluten Relief; all the names sound so promising. The only problem is they don’t make gluten safe for someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. When you read the literature on the products, they clearly say “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”. In other words, we have not had to prove that the pills do what we say they do.
When there are treatments to augment the gluten-free diet, you will hear about it from the CCA, not from the popular press. There might even be options that will replace the gluten-free diet as a treatment, but that is a very long way down the road from now. In the mean time, we are lucky to have an amazingly effective treatment that allows us to actually get better. I’m not sure there are any other autoimmune diseases with that treatment.
Chapter President Irene Wiseman recent had an opportunity to try a new bread product that is now available at Nature’s Fare Markets.
The loaf is from Little Northern Bakehouse and comes in three flavours: Mllet & Chia, Cinnamon & Raisin, and Seeds & Grain.
As you know, Irene is the go to person in our chapter on bread. She’s done commercial baking for Nutter’s and other private customers. She also tries out the products on her B & B guests.
Irene says she likes it and that it works well for sandwiches and does not need to be toasted. Irene will have some coupon’s at September’s Potluck.
If you are looking for a new bread – check it out!