Someone asked me lately if I thought it was easier to eat gluten free now that it is becoming so popular and I honestly had to answer no. The problem, of course, is in the labeling and the lack of any sort of regulation regarding what gluten free means. Some companies are very thoughtful about labeling and testing, and even go so far as to be certified gluten free by the GFCO. For a listed of certified gluten free products and companies click here. Unfortunately, some simply do not take gluten free serious enough.
That is why I am so thankful for sites like Tricia Thompson's new website, Gluten Free Watchdog.com. Tricia Thompson is long-time gluten-free advocate, registered dietitian, and nutritional consultant. You may recall her name from last year when she independently tested different types of "gluten free flour" and found that 32% of the naturally gluten-free grains and flours tested contained gluten in amounts greater than 20 parts per million.
Tricia has now founded Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC to make state-of-the-art gluten-free food testing data available to all of us. Gluten contamination can occur in the fields where food is grown, in the trucks and rail cars where food is transported, and in the processing and manufacturing plants where food is made ready for the consumer. Gluten Free Watchdog independently tests products labeled gluten-free and makes the results available for a very small monthly subscription payment.
While the exact test results are only available to those who subscribe to the site, Tricia has shared product alerts when a certain product tests about 20 ppm. Just recently, Gluten Free Watchdog released a product alert that certain lots of Food for Life Millet Bread & Brown Rice Tortillas tested above 20 parts per million of gluten!! For complete results, including ppm gluten levels, please see www.glutenfreewatchdog.org.
I don't know about you, but we used to eat these pretty regularly! In fact, I never just take a gluten free label at face value! I always follow up with a call or email to the manufacturer to see if they test for gluten and to check on the risk for cross-contamination. I looked in my old emails and found this from Food for Life:
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 5:36 PM
Subject: Contact Us form submission
A new foodforlife.com contact form submission:
Requesting info about:
How do you confirm the gluten free status of your tortillas - do
you use the standard of less than 20 ppm? do you test to verify this
standard is met?
And the reply I received:
On 4/7/11 3:54 PM, "Customer Relations" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Yes it must be below 20 ppm and we do random testing of our products and
have not had any come above that standard.
I also want to add that while it is great that Gluten Free Watchdog revealed these tests results, most of the other products tested by Gluten Free Watchdog have come in well below the limit of 20 ppm.
I definitely feel that the $4.99 monthly subscription is worth it not only to find out which products to avoid, but also for that extra bit of confidence regarding which products to trust!