Glutened by BC Ferries

My husband and I recently cycled (pedal not motor) the Kootenay Loop – a 221 km ride – in 4 days.  The scenery and experience was amazing.  I was concerned that I would go hungry on the trek so I brought almost 10 packages of Francine’s Best Protein Bars and Snack Bars, Glutino pretzels etc.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really did not need to worry as the amount of awareness about celiac disease and gluten free food availability was excellent.  I found plenty of great food and tasty desserts to be had.

The second leg of our summer holidays was a trip to Cusheon Lake Resort on Salt Spring Island.  Salt Spring is another celiac friendly place.  There was plenty of food and the awareness of celiac was again excellent.  There is a gluten free bakery on the island called the Laughing Daughter’s bakery and the Harbour Inn gave us GF flax bread to replace the buns for our meal.

Unfortunately, we were not able to complete our trip without being ‘glutened’ on the ferry.  All the necessary precautions were taken:  we explained that Hannah was celiac and spoke to the very friendly chef about her needs.  He told us that the glazed salmon, brown rice and veggies were all gluten free.  He also told us that the fries were cooked in a separate vat and that they were safe as well.  We felt that we were in good hands, thanked him profusely for his awareness and help, and even considered sending a letter to BC Ferries to let them know how great he was.

Both Hannah and I had some minor tummy issues the first couple of days but we didn’t connect it to being glutened until our return trip on the ferry where we went to order the same meal.  I was just going to order the same meal when luckily my husband mentioned Hannah’s needs to the front end server.  He went to double check and returned to report that the glaze on the salmon contained soy sauce and that their soy sauce contained wheat.  When I asked about the french fries I was told that they were cooked in the same vat as the breaded chicken fingers so there was cross contamination issues.   This was the same ferry, just different serving staff.

All of a sudden Hannah’s behavioural issues over our trip made sense.  The temper tantrum over a loonie that she was still bringing up a full day later and our frustration when she would repeatedly tell us that she was hungry yet barely eat the food when presented with it.  There is nothing more frustrating when you create a meal for a kid that is constantly telling you that she is hungry for her to turn around and tell us that it made her feel sick.  Too many treats we thought or she was filling up on granola bars and sneaking snack foods.  Nope!  The entire time we were accusing her of just wanting junk and becoming short tempered with her moods and petty arguments.  Once again the culprit was gluten not typical 6 year old behavior.

Luckily our entire trip was not spoiled with stomach cramping and vomiting.  We still had a great time canoeing, fishing, sailing, dragonfly hunting and exploring tidal pools.

What to do differently:  next time we will ask to look at their binder to check the ingredients our self.  The man was extremely helpful and well intentioned but not on the mark with his information.

Angela Petrie is a gluten free consultant.  She can be reached at 250-863-8123 or check out her website at www.glutenfreehelp.ca

About David Fowler

David Fowler is an online marketing consultant specializing in AdWords PPC, SEO, and website updates. He is the webmaster of Kelowna Celiac and was co-chair of the Kelowna 2012 CCA National Conference in Kelowna.