Wednesday, February 15, 2006

McDonald's USA now states that its fries are made with "wheat and milk ingredients." Yet it's possible that the fries may still be "safe" for celiacs to eat.

According to this MSNBC article, the McDonald's disclosure does not reflect any change in the recipe. It's just an acknowledgement of sources of already existing ingredients.

"We knew there were always wheat and dairy derivatives in there, but they were not the protein component," says Cathy Kapica, McDonald's director of global nutrition, in the article. "Technically there are no allergens in there."

Celiacs and people with allergies react to proteins, so fries made without proteins from wheat should be safe for celiacs to eat. That explains Kapica's position that, as the article put it, "those who have eaten the product without problem should be able to continue to do so without incident."

Yet the McDonald's website contradicts Kapica. On this list, the French fries are marked as containing gluten. French fries are also absent from the chain's list of gluten-free foods. (At the time of this post, both lists were dated February 8, 2006.)

The contradiction between what McDonald's nutrition expert says and what the company's website says makes me glad that I've avoided McDonald's fries ever since I've been on the gluten-free diet. My reasoning had nothing to do with whether their ingredients contained gluten; I just didn't think they were worth the risk because of a chance of cross-contamination at the restaurant. I still don't think they're worth taking a risk, especially on a regular basis.

Here is a press statement on the issue from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Celiac Chicks are featured in "Wheat Watchers," a February 8, 2006 Daily News article by Heather Fletcher about dining out gluten-free in New York City. The article states, "As many as 3 million people in the U.S. have celiac disease, but only 95,000 are currently diagnosed." The Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program gets a mention, as do eleven area eateries (most of which are affiliated with GFRAP).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

YAZOO CITY GOES GFRAP! [UPDATE: Yazoo City closed its doors in late January 2007.] Yesterday GFRAP announced the addition of the Suffolk County restaurant Yazoo City to its roster. That makes Lindenhurst's Yazoo City the third Long Island restaurant on the GFRAP restaurant menu; the other two are Caffe Baldo in Wantagh (Nassau County) and Momma's Italian Restaurant in Oakdale (Suffolk). Also on Long Island: Outback, Legal Seafoods, and P.F. Chang's.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

ARTICLE IN NEWSDAY. The February 7, 2006 issue of Newsday includes an article entitled "Curbing allergies with gluten-free labels" by Janet Helm (Special to the Chicago Tribune). The article notes that the new labeling legislation requires disclosure of wheat but not barley, rye, and oats.

The article quotes a few prominent people in celiac world including Dr. Peter Green:
"Celiac disease is finally getting more attention, but that has not trickled down to an increased rate of diagnosis," said Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and author of "Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic" (Harper Collins, February 2006). "It's not on the radar screen of many physicians in this country."

Monday, February 06, 2006

CELIAC DISEASE: A HIDDEN EPIDEMIC. The book Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Dr. Peter Green and Rory Jones officially goes on sale this week. From the publisher's website:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects nearly one in every hundred people. Unfortunately, 97 percent remain undiagnosed and untreated. They continue to suffer from gastrointestinal complaints, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, anemia, and itchy skin conditions -- to name just a few of the symptoms. These people consult numerous doctors, who prescribe drugs and diets that may alleviate some symptoms, but rarely work for long.

If you are one of these people, the real answer to your medical problems may lie in this book.

Celiac disease is a hereditary condition that damages the lining of the small intestine so that it cannot properly absorb the food that you eat. Without essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrition, the entire body begins to suffer. Because of its autoimmune nature it also sets off reactions that reverberate throughout all the organs of the body. This is a disease that you do not outgrow -- it often returns years later with more significant symptoms.

The true medical impact of celiac disease is just beginning to emerge. This is the first authoritative guide on how the condition is properly diagnosed, treated, and managed. It examines the latest research into its many manifestations, with chapters devoted to each complication and to related diseases. These include infertility, other autoimmune conditions (for example, type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease), peripheral neuropathy, liver disease, and even cancer. It also devotes an entire section to coping with the psychological aspects of a chronic illness and the gluten-free diet.

This "inside-out" examination and explanation of the disease is a must-read for both patients and the medical community.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

JOSEF'S BAKERY MOVES TO WILLIAMSBURG. The Celiac Chicks note that Josefs Gluten-Free has moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn (not Virginia).