In this article, we will look at some of the issues, and some things to look out for.If you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy, the tiniest amounts of gluten could be risky to your health. Even if you have one of these problems, it can take a while to really understand this.
Stores that offer gluten free food on a casual basis, meaning they make it themselves, or supply unpackaged food items, may not understand the problem that well. So do, others make minor transgressions, some get it out and out wrong.
Less serious contamination issues include using the same pair of tongs to take wheat-based baked goods from one tray, then using them to serve gluten-free goods. Some wheat may stick to the tongs and get transferred to the gluten-free food causing a small amount of cross contamination. For many, this tiny amount is too much.
Another problem I’ve seen is having gluten-free food in open containers stored below gluten-containing food. The later could easily fall down in to the supposedly gluten free food, potentially causing a serious amount of cross contamination. This is especially problematic in bulk food stores. Pointing this out to staff often results in rearranged bins. If not, shop else where.
If you see these sorts of obvious problems, you have to wonder what goes on behind the scenes. Maybe the staff there are better trained, maybe not.
The worst problems come from stores that are half-informed.
Some people still think that spelt is an alternative to wheat, when in fact is is just another kind of wheat, it’s just a different strain without modern cross-breading.
Still, it is possible to come across stores offering “gluten-free” food which is make with spelt. This probably happens less often than it used to, but be sure you know what’s in supposedly gluten-free food before you just blindly go and eat it.
While the increasing popularity of the gluten free diet has the positive effect of increasing the options for those of us with a gluten allergy or celiac disease, it does attract suppliers who really don’t understand the diet well enough to provide a reliably uncontaminated source.
Don’t be paranoid, but do be careful that any food sold as gluten-free really is so, especially if it is unpackaged or made on-site alongside wheat-based food.
What problems have you seen when buying gluten-free food?