My local community grocery store does this amazing thing – they make it easy to identify items that are completely gluten free by using orange paper for the tags on the shelves. This means I can tell at a glance weather or not an item is completely gluten free.
Or so I thought.
Last night I was there, trying to figure out what I was going to do for lunch today. It has been really hot for Seattle, and I so did not want to cook or bake. I decided to get an al fresco lunch, with lovely heirloom tomatoes, sweet red bell peppers, an assortment of cheeses. I also decided to get some crackers.
I debated about this for quite awhile. It is a processed food. I wouldn’t be making it from scratch. I have successfully completed my 30 days of making everything from scratch, with only a couple of mishaps, however I was still hesitant.
I’ve gotten glutenized a few times and it has NOT been fun. In a way its been worse than ever before because I was feeling so much better in general. After going without a headache for weeks, the return of one was particularly painful. Not to mention the other symptoms.
The box of this popular gluten free crackers said “Gluten Free!” on it, and also that they proudly support the Celiac Foundation of America. The label was orange.
I grabbed it.
Today, as I was eating my lovely heirloom tomatoes, sweet red bell pepper,
creamy organic avocado, CSA snap peas, assorted cheeses and gluten free crackers, I was sitting in the sun on a park bench enjoying myself immensely. I was looking around at the interesting people walking by, watching the scruffy birds play in the fountain, and idly reading the cracker box.
“This product is manufactured in a facility that processes wheat, nut, soy, and dairy products”
I took the box back to the store today to get a refund and to let them know that they had mislabeled the product as “orange”, aka completely gluten free. Turns out that because the manufacturer says that they test the product and there is less the 20 ppm of gluten, the store decided to label it orange.
Now, keep in mind, it is the manufacturer that tests and says that the results are less than 20ppm. There isn’t an outside agency (yet) that makes sure that these claims are true. Because, you know, companies never lie to make money (spoken with heavy sarcasm).
To make matters even more confusing, the product’s website says that the crackers are “processed in a facility that is certified by the “Gluten Free Certification Organization””. Seriously? What gluten free organization would ok products being made in the same facility as wheat?!?! Maybe if they had rigorous cleaning procedures, after waiting the 24-48 hours for the wheat in the air to settle. I looked at the GFCO’s website, and they sound fairly thorough, except for the bit about it being ok in some circumstances to run on the same machinery as wheat products.
However, the real proof if something is “safe” or not is in the experience of eating.
I’m tired, my skin itches, my muscles ache and I’ve got a headache.
I’d say it obviously wasn’t gluten free enough.
From now on, I will check every single label, EVERY SINGLE TIME.