On the WBB topic
Fruity Logic (UIC mirror),
describing how the almost entirely horrific
circa 2013 Post Fruity Pebbles began sporting a
“Gluten Free” claim, a reader there
“Foods such as this need to be
accompanied by a ‘warning label’ ”
The key warning label says:
The more prominent the GF, the more suspicious
you need to be.
- Foods you want to eat will, of course, be GF.
Those, however, usually have a more discrete GF notation.
- But the sad state of the market today is that 97%
of the GF products are not foods you want to eat.
The majority of today’s GFs fall into one of two categories:
- They contain disqualifying other ingredients,
usually high glycemic carbs based on refined
starches from grains that aren’t gluten-bearing,
but still cause sky high blood sugars. Sugars
are also all too common. Don’t take my word for
it. Read some random NF panels in the GF aisle
at your local upscale supermarket.
- They are products that never contained anything
from gluten-bearing grains in the first place,
and are being marketed by charlatans trying to
cash in on what they see as an uninformed fad.
Pure crystalline sucrose (rock candy), for
example, is “gluten free”.
Is it really GF, and is it wheat-free?
As of 2013-08-02, the FDA’s 2007 proposed a 20 ppm
standard became official. It was effective 2013-09-02,
with a year for producers to come into compliance,
and it took some time beyond that to flush inventories
at the retail level.
Unless the product package made a claim of a specific
threshold, with a reference to a credible lab holding
the results, all bets were off until sometime in 2015.
As we exited 2016, products on store shelves would have been
20 ppm-compliant, past-expiry or illegal.
Even at 20 ppm, some celiacs and acutely wheat
sensitive non-celiacs can react to trace amounts of
gluten. This is the other tension in why it took
6 years to set a standard.
Gluten-Free, before or after the standard, doesn’t
necessarily mean wheat-free.
Wheat dextrin is often presented as GF. Is it
free of other wheat toxins? Many GF beers are
based on GF barley or GF rye. Are they free of
genetic and/or protein issues crossed from wheat?
You are the lab rat for these questions.
The FDA rule poses a particular challenge for restaurants.
Many today still list “GF” items on the menu,
with disclaimers regarding cross-contamination and
other factors. Prior to 20 ppm, GF on the menu
didn’t mean GF on your plate, and it still may not.
Restaurants can no longer disclaim under the new FDA rule.
What does the menu look like in the 20 ppm age?
Unless the establishment is entirely gluten-free,
and sources only 20 ppm-cert GF ingredients, I don’t
see how they can credibly continue to use the phrase
Some will, alas, just give up any attempt to
accommodate this particular food sensitivity.
The rest are going to need some new phrase that
indicates their best effort to avoid gluten
in the recipe and food prep.
“Wheat Free” might work.
Both the US and the UK allow the phrase
“No Gluten Containing Ingredients” (NGCI).
Either would assure no particular level of safety.
Stay tuned for developments.
Take Quest, for example (which I no longer recommend, for
reasons). Their 2013 products replaced
the Gluten Free claim with an NGCI claim. Later
products vary, with some asserting GF and some NGCI.
The GF situation is going to remain a problem for
some years yet, probably until GF is replaced by LC
(Low Carb) as the biggest banner on the box,
then by LCHF, or whatever abbreviation comes to
denote enlightened ancestral products you’d
actually want to eat.
Meanwhile, the more prominent the GF, the more
likely it’s a trap, or not even true. And even
after 2016, GF might mean 20 ppm gluten, but
still assures nothing about other important content,
such as net carbs, adverse fats, adverse sweeteners,
emulsifiers, preservatives, colorants, flavorants,
and field/transport/storage chems.
The formulators and marketers of “GLUTEN FREE!!”
products, loaded with junk carbs (and often
other unwise ingredients) either have
• no idea what they are doing
(fooling themselves), or
• they know exactly what they are doing
Either explanation suggests avoiding the product.
And that’s if the brand is even being honest, which
sometimes they are not.
Outside the reach of the FDA, you’ll have to
research what rules, if any, apply to GF claims
in food packaging and food service.
What flag does that cruise ship fly?
Bob Niland [disclosures] [topics] [abbreviations]