Eat Ancient Grains for more Nutrients

By CCA National

Our gluten-free diets tend to be heavy in white flour and starches that don’t contain a lot of nutrients.

Over the last few years, there has been a lot more interest in ancient grains which generally contain more nutrients. There are a number of suppliers of these grains, including Pure Organic Foods, a member of the Gluten Free Certification Program who not only choose only the best grains but also package them right there in South America, to reduce the possibility of contamination.

There are many web sites offering novel recipes to use these grains. Here are a few to get you started.

Amaranth

QuinoaQuinoa

Millet

Pick a Grain

What does “May Contain” mean?

Courtesy CCA National

may contain labelThere is a lot of misunderstanding about what May Contain means when it shows up on a food label in Canada. The two biggest misconceptions are that 1) it is simply a legal disclaimer used to reduce getting sued, and 2) that it must be used whenever there is a gluten source present in the plant. Neither of these things is true.

May Contain is a VOLUNTARY statement in Canada. Manufacturers can choose whether or not to use it on their packages. There is no requirement to use them and there is no prohibition against using them. The only requirements are that they be truthful and that they are not a substitute for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Good Manufacturing Practices are not a set of “thou shalt” statements, they are a series of general principles that must be observed during manufacturing to make sure that products are safe for consumption and are produced in controlled conditions that prevent cross-contamination with allergens or other hazardous ingredients.

To quote Health Canada, “Precautionary labelling should only be used when, despite all reasonable measures, the inadvertent presence of allergens in food is unavoidable. It must not be used when an allergen or allergen-containing ingredient is deliberately added to a food. Furthermore, the use of a precautionary statement where there is no real risk of an allergen being present in the food is contrary to the Department’s goal of enabling a variety of safe and nutritious food choices for the allergic consumer.” Source: The Use Of Food Allergen Precautionary Statements On Prepackaged Foods.

Don’t listen to bartenders – barley beer isn’t safe

by CCA National Office

For many people, bartenders have become experts about gluten in beer. After all, they are educated by brewery representatives who have a job selling beer, not those dietitians and doctors who seem to just make your life miserable and unfulfilling! In the past month I have been told by CCA members and other celiacs that at least 12 different mainstream beers are “OK for people with celiac disease”.

Despite the obvious appeal of listening to those bartenders, there are a few problems with their analysis:

  1. beer-not-gluten-freeSymptoms are not a good indicator of the absence of gluten in a product.
  2. Beer is not distilled so the proteins are not removed from the grain ingredients – including malted barley.
  3. We do not have verified technology to measure the amount of gluten in beer. That means that a gluten test might give you a number but we have no way to know if that number is correct, or if it might be significantly underestimating the amount of gluten in the beer.
  4. As per Health Canada, any product containing barley or malt directly added is not allowed to be called “gluten free”.

Gluten from barley is the hardest type of gluten to detect on a test. In beer, where the barley proteins are broken into pieces, detecting the “bad” part of the proteins is even harder. The conventional tests will give you a number for the amount of gluten in a beer sample, but there is no way to verify that number. Studies that use mass spectroscopy to look at the broken pieces of barley proteins have found gluten in all barley-based beers. This research article gives details if you would like to read more.

Some manufacturers use an enzyme that is supposed to break the gluten sequence in beer into pieces so that it won’t trigger a gluten reaction. This treated beer that is “Crafted to remove gluten” and sold in Canada must carry a statement that indicates that there is no way to accurately measure the amount of gluten in beer. I saw this message on a bottle of Daura Damm at the LCBO store yesterday. It was on the label around the neck of the bottle in very tiny print.

End result, the CCA does NOT consider beer made with gluten as safe for people with celiac disease, treated to remove the gluten or not. Beer is one of those things that does not meet the gluten-free criteria, just like wheat-based bread isn’t safe. There are alternatives that are not really the same (just like with bread). You either get used to them or you stop eating bread. The same rule applies for beer.

Customer Service Lines Provide Inconsistent Info to Celiacs

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.

PC Sprinkle Party Cake 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.

cfia logoThe 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.

Debunking the recent Celiac pill hype

By Sue Newell, CCA National Office Staffer

Sue Newell

Sue Newell

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.

New Gluten-Free Bread At Nature’s Fare

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!

little northern bakery
Click for a PDF info sheet.

Gluten Free Popup Picnic – July 23rd

gf-pop-up picnic

Selena Devries, RD, CLT and Integrative Registered Dietitian via www.healthbean.ca is holding this fun (free) gluten free picnic at Rotary Beach in Kelowna on July 23rd. Perfect for family and young ones!

Below is the full write-up.  Hope to see you there!


The theme of this event is “Eating Out.” Selena Devries, Registered Dietitian and diagnosed celiac will be giving a short talk on how to stay safe when trying to eat out gluten free.

She will also be available to chat to throughout the event and answer questions on the gluten free diet.

It’s a FREE event for everyone of all ages. Family, friends, and children all welcome. This is an event intended to support those with celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance in our community. Following a gluten free diet can be socially isolating so let’s come together and support each other!

Please bring some GLUTEN FREE snacks/dishes that you would like to eat/share. If you intend to share them, please come with a written out ingredient list of what is in your dish. Note, it is not required to share your dish.

You do NOT need to bring food to attend this event.

This is a GREEN event: Please bring your own eating utensils/bowls.


If you can make it, please RSVP on Facebook to help us plan the food: https://www.facebook.com/events/1605585463044925/

Can I eat the strawberries that have been grown in wheat straw?

By Sue Newell, CCA National Office

There’s wheat straw in that field

strawberriesI know when strawberry season hits across the country because I start seeing variations on this question: “The farm has straw between the rows of strawberries. Can I still eat the berries?”

The short answer is: go ahead and eat the strawberries. Wash them first. Watch out for mold.

Straw is the dried stalks of a grain plant (usually barley, oats, rye, or wheat) after the grain and chaff have been removed. Grains are the seeds of the plant which grow in a head at the top of the plant. Grain is the only part of the plant that contains gluten. Chaff is the thin, dry, scaly husk around the grain. Straw is harvested after the grain has been removed.

“But what if there are some grains left in the straw?” is usually the second question. A few grains might be mixed in, but grain is much more valuable than straw so as much grain as possible is removed before the straw is left to dry. Any remaining kernels often fall off during straw harvest and are left behind in the field. Those that might make their way to the strawberry field will tend to fall to the ground because of their weight. They are slower to dry then the stems so even if they break, the moisture will prevent much material from flying around.

Will the gluten end up in the strawberries? No. Plants take in hydrogen, oxygen, water, and minerals from the soil and use those basic elements to build the various structures the need. Strawberries do not absorb complex chemicals like proteins directly.

So why do some people get sick when they eat strawberries grown in straw? I wonder if it is related to more gray mold (actually a fungus, Botrytis cinerea). Most berries have some spores on them, but if the straw traps moisture, mold growth can be accelerated. Straw also contains a variety of mold and fungus spores that may contribute to the problem, if you are sensitive to those allergens it might appear that you are reacting to the strawberries.

Savory Strawberry Dishes

When somebody says strawberry and savory together, I instantly think of a salad with dark lettuce, strawberries, pecans, balsamic vinegar and some sort of dressing. I like those salads, but as someone with celiac disease, salads are what you eat when nothing else is safe. Not the right way to celebrate juicy ripe strawberries that were attached to a plant that morning.

Here are a few recipes I’ve come across recently that use strawberries to create a more interesting gluten-free option for supper.

Oats can now make gluten-free claim in Canada

By Sue Newell, CCA

Oat flakes on white background

Health Canada announced regulatory changes that will allow a gluten-free claim for specially produced or processed oats that are free from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains, and for foods containing these oats. Details about these changes, an updated position paper and other important information can be found on Health Canada’s Website.

The Canadian Celiac Association supports this decision to allow gluten-free claims for specially produced gluten-free oats and products containing such oats. The Canadian Celiac Association Professional Advisory Council Position Statement on Consumption of Oats by Individuals with Celiac Disease is available on www.celiac.ca.

Health Canada’s Marketing Authorization permits the gluten-free claim for oats if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The food contains no oats other than specially produced “gluten-free oats”;
  2. The finished product does not contain greater than 20 ppm of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains;
  3. The food contains no intentionally added gluten from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains; and
  4. The “gluten-free oats” are clearly identified as such in all cases where ‘oats’ are referenced, including in the list of ingredients.

Manufacturers who want to make a gluten-free claim on pure oats or products made with pure oats are responsible for ensuring those oats meet the criteria outlined in the Marketing Authorization. If a product is marketed as gluten-free and contains oats that do not meet the criteria, it will be subject to enforcement actions by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Kelowna’s Gratitude Cafe Goes Gluten-Free

The Gratitude Cafe on Osprey Road is going gluten-free.  The cafe already serves vegetarian, vegan & raw food.  The menus are being updated to show all items are gluten-free.

gratitude cafe logoTop 10 reasons to eat at Gratitude Cafe:

  • everything is vegan & gluten-free
  • they do not use eggs, peanuts, sesame, rennet, meat or processed soy in our kitchen
  • their vegan cheeses are house made from nuts!!
  • the top section of their menu is our raw selection
  • they offer cooking classes
  • they make enough food to sell out & prevent waste so if they are sold out, that’s why
  • they do not take “LA” attitudes
  • they get 100% on health inspections
  • famous people have eaten there
  • they donate stuff to different charities

 

Where:

585 Osprey Avenue (map)
Kelowna, British Columbia

Hours:

Open at 11:30am-ish to 7:00pm-ish
closed Sundays & Mondays
closed Tuesdays after a  holiday Monday

Contact:

Phone: 778-478-9090

Email: info@gratitudecafe.ca

Web: http://gratitudecafe.ca/

Other:

  • gratitude foodHave an allergy? Let them know. They specialize in cooking for people with allergies!
  • They do takeout! call 778-478-9090 to place an order.
  • Call them to reserve for a party of 4 or more.
  • The restaurant is 100% Bullfrog Powered.
  • Gratitude Café is not affiliated with Café Gratitude in San Francisco.