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Celiac Awareness Month 2012: KISS it, and then Spread the Bread

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Celiac Awareness Month 2012: KISS it…

and Spread the Bread

But, the good folks over at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness were way more on the ball than me, thank goodness.  I’ve done some work with them in the past, and they are always doing stellar work for the celiac and gluten free communities.

National Celiac Awareness Month is here, and what celebration would be complete without a blogger campaign? This year, the NFCA rounded up 16 bloggers for a series chronicling every stage of the gluten-free journey, from Day 1 basics to advanced cooking and advocacy.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Keep It Simple and Safe, each blogger is offering 5 key tips or lessons related to that day’s topic.

Weekly Focus

  • Monday – Cooking/Baking Gluten-Free
  • Tuesday – Nutrition/Wellness
  • Wednesday – Raising a Gluten-Free Kid
  • Thursday – Dining Out Gluten-Free
  • Friday – NFCA Resources You Should Know About

Schedule and Guest Bloggers

Week 1: Just Diagnosed (April 30-May 4)

Week 2: Getting the Hang of It (May 7-11)

Week 3: Hitting a Roadblock (May 14-18)

  • Diane Eblin of The WHOLE Gang – 5 tips to get out of a food rut
  • Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free  – First gluten-free, now lactose intolerant? 5 tips to becoming a dairy-free diva
  • Michael De Cicco-Butz of Gluten-Free Mike – Traveling while gluten-free
  • NFCA – 5 resources to handle life’s hurdles

Week 4: What’s Next? (May 21-25)

  • Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple – Publishing your gluten-free recipes
  • EA Stewart of The Spicy RD – Healthy gluten-free foods you’ve never heard of
  • Katie Chalmers of G-Free Kid – 5 tips to empower gluten-free kids
  • Carrie Forbes of Ginger Lemon Girl – Starting a gluten-free dining group
  • NFCA – Ready to fundraise? Here’s how to start

My post is titled “5 Tips to Avoid the Pitfalls of Processed Gluten Free Food and Weight Gain.”  Check it out and share!  It’s something we’ve all been though at some point.

Also for Celiac Awareness Month, Rudi’s Gluten Free is offering their “Spread the Bread” campaign and donating $$ to the celiac organization of your choice.  I recommend the NFCA, but all the organizations are doing fantastic work and your donations will be well spent.  They are going to give up to $30,000 back to the amazing organizations making a difference in our community.

Through the rest of May, fans of Rudi’s Gluten-Free on Facebook will be able to select one of four celiac organizations (Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac Sprue Association, Gluten Intolerance Group and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) to receive a $1 donation from Rudi’s Gluten-Free and will then be able to download a $1 off coupon for any Rudi’s Gluten-Free product. It’s as simple as, “Get a Dollar. Give a Dollar.”  It’s a win/win!  I almost always have a loaf of Rudi’s Multi Grain Bread in my freezer.

For more info, you’ll want to check out Gluten Free and Fit 101, where I’ve compiled posts that I think would be most helpful to those starting on a gluten free diet, or those who have been eating gluten free, but are ready to kick up their nutritional know how and health status to the next level.

If you’re tired of searching around for information and want a step by step system for living a healthier gluten free life, then check out my “7 Quick Start Tips for Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life.”

So there you go.  Happy Celiac Awareness Month!  Go spread some knowledge bombs and spread the bread as well.

UPDATED 2/10/2012: WARNING!! Some Flavors of Muscle Gauge Protein Powder MAY Contain Gluten

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Please scroll down for the latest info.

I have not yet received confirmation from the company themselves, but as this has been an issue that I have been trying to get a straight answer on since 12/28/11, and today is 1/11/12, I felt it time to alert you all.

Previously, (10/6/2010) I had written a review of Muscle Gauge Nutrition protein powder.

At the time that was written, I was advised by the company in an email that:

not only is our facility gluten free and we test the products but on  top of that we make sure that any facilities we work in conjunction with send us full certificates of analysis for their products. ALL PRODUCTS ARE GLUTEN FREE AND ALL FLAVORS.

This email was dated 9/22/10.

I am not sure if something has changed in the formulation and/or manufacturing in the meanwhile, as the packaging of the Ice Cream Sandwich flavor of American Isolate which I had purchased still states “gluten free” and the ingredient profile does not indicate any gluten containing items.  I had never used this particular flavor in the past.

HOWEVER, when I opened the package I spotted what appeared to be cookie pieces.

Cookie pieces?

Alarmed, I sent a contact form on the company website asking about the “pieces” in the Ice Cream Sandwich flavor.  This was on 12/28/11.  I received a call from one of their customer service representatives that same morning.  I asked about the “pieces”, and he stated that yes, they were cookie pieces in order to mimic the ice cream sandwich flavor.

I asked about the ingredients in the cookie pieces, because obviously if these cookies are made with any type of gluten the product is in fact, NOT gluten free.  It seemed unlikely to me that they were using gluten free cookies in the product.  The rep assured me that he felt certain that the product was gluten free, and that he would send me the full ingredient list and certificate of analysis for that particular flavor.

Still waiting…

Well, I’ve yet to receive anything.  Granted, we have had the holidays, so perhaps that is the delay.  I did follow up with a repeat email to info@musclegauge.com on 1/4/12, and have not received any response at all to that inquiry, a week later.

I have also NOT “tested” it to see if I have a reaction.  Sorry guys, not putting myself into intentionally glutening for the sake of review.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  I did however, want to post this so the information is out there for others to be aware of.

This situation brings up several great points.

  1. Formulations change.
    As of this point I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps in fact it is still gluten free, but I am not banking on it.  A good reason to always recheck and double check ingredients and labels.
  2. The fact that there is no FDA guideline for the “gluten free” label.
    If there was, the product would not be able to be labeled gluten free unless it truly was tested at <20ppm.  At this point gluten free labeling in and of itself is a free for all, which is even a better reason to look for products with a gluten free certification.
  3. Vote with your dollars.
    At this point, I will not purchase any other products from Muscle Gauge and cannot recommend them.  I have told all the sports supplement companies that I have had contact with about the importance of maintaining a gluten free product that is not just gluten free but safe for celiacs, the benefits of GF certification, and the buying power and loyalty of the celiac and gluten intolerant community.  If companies step up and meet these requirements, they will be rewarded with the business of the huge, vocal, and growing gluten free market.  If not, then we will take our business elsewhere.

Once again, as I have received no clarification from the company I cannot say that the product in fact is not gluten free.

But the presence of cookie pieces and the lack of response to my inquiries makes me very nervous.  I hope that I am wrong and that they provide me with a COA showing that there is no gluten.  Meanwhile, I am assuming the worst.  I felt it my responsibility to alert you all to my experiences so you can make your own educated decisions.

If you have had any similar experiences, please do share and post them.  Together, we can make a change in awareness.


UPDATE:

After another email to the company, I received a response from the Founder and CEO Osagie Osunde.  He stated that the Ice Cream Sandwich protein flavor is in fact NOT GLUTEN FREE due to the fact that crushed Hydrox cookies are used as flavoring.

To quote his email:

The ice cream sandwich flavor is not gluten free because of the crushed Hydrox cookies that are in the product. All of our other flavors are gluten free.

I responded to his email with the below, copied and pasted:

Thank you for the response.  No COA is needed at this point. This is a huge concern because of the lack of allergen labeling.  I suggest you do a press release and voluntary recall for undeclared wheat.  I would prefer to not have to report the violation to the FDA, which can be avoided with a voluntary recall.

http://www.celiac.com/articles/22804/1/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-False-Gluten-Free-Labeling-/Page1.html

I have celiac disease.  Thankfully I saw the cookie pieces before I drank the shake, or I would have become extremely sick.  The container is labeled gluten free.  Obviously this is incorrect.  Gluten free labeling must be taken seriously.  If your other flavors are processed on the same equipment as the ice cream sandwich flavor cookies, the possibility for cross contamination is serious.

Please do keep me posted on your intentions in handling this issue.

That email was sent on 2/2/12.  I have had no response since.

I am hugely disappointed on multiple levels.  The blatant disregard for proper labeling, the lack of prompt communication, and the lack of response regarding what is obviously a gigantic liability issue.  I will be filing a complaint with the FDA.

 

Gluten Free for the Holidays

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Gluten Free for the Holidays, and we conjugate our own verbs around here – Glutened

How is it almost Thanksgiving?!?  Really?!

I am the chief cook and bottle washer for Thanksgiving, so fortunately I have the POWER!!

(If you are approximately my age, you will get the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reference.  If not, enjoy the kitteh at least.)

There is a metric ton of great information being shared out there in the gluten free world about staying safe this holiday season, and making some kick ass recipes while you’re at it.

So here’s a quick and dirty low down on some of the info.

There is definitely more out there that I am not hitting, so be sure to click the links at each of these resources for some more great stuff.

 

You’ll get them at Home for the Holidays, Gluten Free Style.  Be sure to check in over at gfe for the details!

  • Heidi, the Adventurous Gluten Free Mom, posted an epic guide to having the best gluten free Thanksgiving.
  • Wendy, ordinarily of Celiacs in the House, posted a Guide for Enjoying a Safe Gluten Free Holiday Season over at Diets in Review.
  • Kim at Gluten Free Is Life posted Holidays and How to Survive Part 1 and Part 2
  • My other Kim at Cook IT Allergy Free wrote a massive Thanksgiving Prep Series.  Seriously folks, this is the mother lode.  Shopping lists, recipes, the whole 9.  9 yards, that is.

That’s it for now!  Go forth and be healthy, happy, and as wise as you need to be, but cut loose from time to time.