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/