Friday, September 15, 2006


The folks at Food & Wine might have been going a little heavy on the wine when they published Erin McKenna's recipe for Raspberry Scones. "Spelt, which is loaded with manganese and riboflavin, gives these wheat-free scones a wheaty taste," gushes the gulled magazine in its September 2006 issue.

I guess nobody managed to inform Food & Wine that there's a simple reason why spelt gives scones a wheaty taste: Spelt is actually a form of wheat.

In the same issue, Food & Wine also defines spelt flour as "A flour alternative for people with wheat allergies," parroting reckless marketing-speak while ignoring organizations such as the FDA and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, which states
Spelt is an ancient wheat that has recently been marketed as safe for wheat-allergic individuals. This claim is untrue, however. Wheat-allergic patients can react as readily to spelt as they do to common wheat.
Food & Wine isn't alone in making such serious mistakes when covering McKenna and her Babycakes bakery, which has marketed spelt cupcakes as being free of wheat. Earlier this year, New York wrote that a Babycakes cupcake was free of wheat even though spelt was among its ingredients. More recently, Manhattan User's Guide described Babycakes as a "gluten-free bakery" despite its use of spelt.

These days, the BabyCakes website includes this disclaimer:
BabyCakes menu is ever expanding to create safe options for all. Although we try, we are unable to accommodate every allergy. Ultimately, it is the consumer’s responsibility to check all ingredients to ensure safe indulgence. Although Agave Nectar is known to be a healthful sugar-free alternative for those with diabetes, not all diabetics are the same and should check with their doctor to make sure Agave Nectar suits their diet.
Silver lining time: At least the other two McKenna recipes in Food & Wine--for Brownie Bites and Cinnamon Banana Bread--are okay for people on medical gluten-free diets.

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