Friday, December 26, 2008

Gluten-Free Cartoonist

Did you know that there's a gluten-free cartoonist (and caricaturist and blogger) in West Virginia?

Meet Danielle Corsetto! For the moment (at least) here's a section of her comic strip Girls With Slingshots—(over 18 recommended) and here's her gluten-free food rating blog Gluten-Free Foods That Don't Suck. Helluva blog name, Danielle!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chicago Tribune Exposes Poor Labeling

Sam Roe and Ted Gregory's article "Tribune investigation prompts stores to pull food items" (December 20, 2008) is the latest in the Chicago Tribune's look at labeling practices.

Says the article: "In one of the nation's largest examinations of undisclosed ingredients in food, the Tribune reviewed thousands of items at more than 60 locations, finding dozens of products obviously mislabeled. The newspaper also conducted 50 laboratory tests—more than the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration combined over the last several years—to try to determine precise ingredients."

Can you believe how little testing the USDA and FDA do?

Many of the cases in the article have to do with milk, but there are some items of special interest to those on wheat-free or gluten-free diets. Perhaps the most important is the finding that "Oats are often tainted with wheat." This is well-known in wheat-free and gluten-free circles, but research supporting the claim only surfaces sporadically. And the article draws attention to one of the big flaws of current labeling regulations: The cross-contamination of wheat with oats is not something that must be disclosed, no matter how substantial it might be.
The Tribune tested six brands of oat cereal, and all had hidden gluten, most likely traces of wheat....

By law, labels need to disclose only ingredients in the product's formulation. Substances that might slip in through cross-contamination do not have to be declared, though more and more companies are putting such warnings on labels.

Tricia Thompson, author of "The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide," said many people suffering from celiac disease, which can cause stomach cramps, know to avoid oats. But oat products, she said, should warn that they might contain wheat.

None of the six oatmeal products tested by the Tribune clearly warned consumers about the possibility of wheat, a major allergen.

But after the Tribune informed New York based-HappyFamily that its HappyBellies Oatmeal Cereal contained gluten, chief operating officer Jessica Rolph said she would relabel the product.

She added that consumers have been asking her company whether the cereal contains wheat. "Parents are definitely concerned about this," Rolph said.

The oats that tested highest for gluten in the Tribune examination were made by the Quaker Oats Co. Spokeswoman Candace Mueller said Quaker is aware that cross-contamination can occur in its oats, but "we are confident that our labels are accurate and our products are safe."
Thanks a lot, Quaker Oats.

Some good news for New Yorkers: "New York state authorities test many imports for mislabeled food, but few other regulators do." However, the article goes on to say that "With few checks on foreign labels, many imports pose a significant risk to U.S. children with allergies" and offers this cautionary note: "'If I had a food allergy, I wouldn't eat imported foods,' said Dan Rice, director of the New York state food laboratory."

Now I'm curious to see the results of all 50 lab tests.

ADDENDUM (12/21/08) From an email on the international celiac disease mailing list, it seems that the findings for oats were as follows.
920 ppm Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
190 ppm Jewel (Albertson's) Old Fashioned Oats
160 ppm McCann's Imported Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
130 ppm HappyBellies Baby Oatmeal Cereal
79 ppm Whole Foods 365 Organic Rolled Oats
36 ppm Country Choice Irish Style Oats
None of them would qualify as gluten-free according to the current international standard of 20ppm maximum.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Top 10 'Yuppie' Conditions"

Or, "An Article Diminished By Lousy Headlines"

Lauren Cox's ABC News story "Top 10 'Yuppie' Conditions" (December 17, 2008) has a lousy headline that encourages readers to think of the 10 conditions as (air-quote) "conditions" and a poor sub-headline that seems to confuse "Wheat Allergy or Celiac Disease or Gluten Allergy"—but beyond that, I guess it's all right.

Cox offers "10 of the most besmirched conditions patients wish would be taken more seriously," starting with a section on celiac disease even though that darn sub-headline also mentions allergies.

The article cites Elaine Monarch of the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) to the effect that "in 2004 the National Institutes of Health convened a consensus conference about celiac disease. The doctors estimated that 97 percent of people who have it have not been diagnosed, and that one out of 133 people likely had the condition." Okay. And it also quotes Dr. Alessio Fasano (who has a personal interest in research and development) as saying, "It deserves all the respect that we give to the other diseases that we spend so much time and money on." Also okay, despite the lack of disclaimer.

But besides better headlines, something that would actually have helped earn respect for celiac disease would have been a more coherent presentation that conveys the costs of celiac disease going underdiagnosed. Cox might even have noted that testing for celiac disease might help people with at least four of the other nine "Yuppie" conditions:
'Yuppie Flu' or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome*
Social Phobia and Social Anxiety Disorder*
Tennis Elbow
Anxiety vs. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Restless Leg Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Yes, celiac disease can be suspected in people with the four asterisked conditions. At least that's the point of view of the CDF, and, in the case of social phobia, doctors at Italy's Institute of Internal Medicine at the Catholic University of Rome.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Even More on Wellshire Farms, Whole Foods, and Labeling

Here are two more updates related to the revelations regarding substantial levels of gluten that have been found in Wellshire Farms products labeled as gluten-free.
* There's word that the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) facilitated the testing of the products and found that Wellshire Farms seemed unconcerned about the alarming levels of gluten.

* Glutino president Steve Singer issued a statement saying in part that "the Tribune's report [November 21 and November 23, 2008] is a great step forward to making sure we all join this effort to protect Americans and our children living with food allergies."
Regarding the FDA in general:
* Mark Schlosberg and Elanor Starmer of Food & Water Watch declared "Food safety must be a first priority under the new administration. This is one area where individuals should not - and cannot - go it alone" in an Op-Ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

* Representative Charles Dingel (D-Michigan) stated that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce "has found that FDA not only failed in its basic mission, but refused to admit its failures and take steps to protect Americans from unsafe food and drugs."

* The FDA attempted to stand up for itself.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shameless Shirt Promotion

The Gluten-Free NYC Boutique continues to put the GF in GiFts with a wide range of products including a new set of sweats! Check 'em out here.

"GF Alphabet" and Other Special Designs by Debbie Glasserman Design

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity"

Source (1:23:11)

The William K. Warren Medical Research Center for Celiac Disease (WMRCCD) in San Diego recently held another educational meeting. Thanks to YouTube and UCTV you can virtually attend the meeting, which featured Dr. Martin Kagnoff, Dr. Kimberly Newton, and Dr. Susan Algert, a registered dietician. Like last year's installment, the video is long but informative—and highly recommended!

Kagnoff's talk, "Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance: How to Tell the Difference" surveys many basics, including a discussion of differences between oats and wheat, barley, and rye. I was surprised by his estimate that about 15%-20% of all cases of celiac disease have been diagnosed—I've heard the that diagnoses were much lower than that—but not surprised by his remark that "there is a huge amount of individuals walking the face of the United States who have celiac disease and don't know it." In his discussion of the frequency of celiac disease he says that mild cases are more common than severe cases, and notes that Japan is unusual in being nearly free of the condition due to genetic factors. He also devotes much time to issues related to testing, including the advisability of family screening and the problems posed by people who go gluten-free before they've been tested. He acknowledge the phenomenon of gluten intolerance or sensitivity but noted that very few studies have been done on the subject so far.

Newton's talk, "Growing Without Gluten: Update on Pediatric Celiac Disease," offers an overview of special issues regarding child patients. She lists possible non-gastronomical manifestations as enamel defects, mouth sores, short stature, delayed puberty, low bone density, arthritis, headaches, ADHD, depression, epilepsy, dermatitis herpetiformus, anemia, and inflammation of the liver. Something she mentions that I've heard elsewhere is that the tTg test (very popular with Kagnoff) may not be as reliable as anti-gliadin tests when used on children under two years of age.

Algert's "Tips on Eating Gluten-Free" includes advice to include many non-processed foods that can often be found along the perimeter of the store, as they are naturally gluten-free.

The Q&A session includes an interesting comment on advice for pregnant women who want to protect infants from celiac disease. In Newton's answer, she acknowledges the study that recommended introduction of gluten during months 4-6 of breastfeeding, but also noted forthcoming studies suggesting that waiting more than 12 months might be more advisable. Also during the Q&A period, Kagnoff discusses trials of treatments for refractory sprue and notes that dozens of peptide sequences can trigger the damage associated with celiac disease.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Breaking: Genetic Link with Type 1 Diabetes

I admit I don't quite understand the ramifications of this, but it seems worth noting that a British study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (December 10, 2008) found that juvenile diabetes and celiac disease had more in common genetically than the researchers had expected.

The study, "Shared and Distinct Genetic Variants in Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease," concludes that "A genetic susceptibility to both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease shares common alleles. These data suggest that common biologic mechanisms, such as autoimmunity-related tissue damage and intolerance to dietary antigens, may be etiologic features of both diseases." This may help to address the question of why there is an "association" between celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes.

From Science Daily's coverage:
Professor David van Heel, from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "These findings suggest common mechanisms causing both coeliac and type 1 diabetes - we did not expect to see this very high degree of shared genetic risk factors."

Richard A. Insel, MD., Executive Vice President, Research, at JDRF, said: "These studies demonstrate that type 1 diabetes and celiac disease share far greater genetic overlap than had been appreciated, which helps explain the high prevalence of both diseases occurring simultaneously in an individual, and provide new avenues for understanding the cause and mechanisms of both diseases."
Note that a 2006 study published in Diabetes Care found that 12.3% of children with juvenile diabetes also had celiac disease, and recommended that all children with juvenile diabetes be tested for celiac disease.

Monday, December 08, 2008

CeliActivism: Health Care Reform

The Obama transition team welcomes input

During the second half of this month, Tom Daschle and the Obama transition team will welcome public input on its health care policy. Much of the attention at the forthcoming health care community discussions will probably be on how more people (especially children) can receive affordable health insurance, but this might be an ideal time to become more aggressive about finding ways to heighten awareness of celiac disease.

As you might recall, Barack Obama supports preventative medicine and judicious government spending. I would imagine that he is also looking to create "success stories" during the initial phase of his presidency.

I think that a celiac disease awareness policy would achieve those goals because
* More than 2,000,000 Americans of all ages (about one percent of the population) are estimated to have celiac disease that is undiagnosed or misdiagnosed even though they may be experiencing symptoms.

* Diagnosing and treating celiac disease in the undiagnosed children can help them develop normally, avoiding illnesses such as osteoporosis.

* Diagnosing and treating celiac disease in the undiagnosed general population can also prove beneficial, fending off osteoporosis as well as chronic fatigue, thyroid disease, and some forms of cancer, along with many other health issues.

* Decreasing the "time to diagnosis" from its current length of about 10 years can eliminate unnecessary tests and medical visits.

* Celiac disease can be initially screened through simple and relatively inexpensive blood tests.

* Celiac disease is treatable by diet, not medication or operations or procedures.

* The Obama administration does not need to initiate an awareness program from scratch. It can shape a policy that is informed by the examples of other countries, especially those in Europe.

* By raising awareness at a point in time when the vast majority of people with celiac disease are unidentified, the Obama administration can measurably accelerate the rate of diagnosis—in other words, it can point to results.
I hope that this type of message makes its way to people who can see the reasoning in it and take action to make it happen. If you agree, please think of how you can help to get the message across, whether it's through a community health care discussion, contact with sympathetic political figures such as Kemp Hannon, Nita Lowey, and Hillary Clinton, or contact with an advocacy group such as the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

More Extreme Fundraising!

What does one have to do to raise money (and awareness) in support of a gluten-free cause?

We've seen a walk on the Appalachian Trail.

We've seen a swim through the waters off Alcatraz.

And now Michele Wallick (who has written for Gluten-Free Living) and her husband Greg, of GF Adventures, are sailing 7,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic from Cape Town, South Africa to the Brazilian islands of Fernando de Noronha.

They hope to raise $14,000 for the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research (UMCCR) while raising awareness that an estimated 2,700,000 Americans with celiac disease remain undiagnosed.

Well, they certainly caught my attention. I wish them well!

Do you think sailing is a breeze? Consider this video, and remember that you can make donations here!

Source (6:06)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Newsweek Web Exclusive: "A New Diet Villain"

Newsweek has posted a "gluten-free trend" online story, "A New Diet Villain" (December 3, 2008).

Unlike this week's WCBS-TV story, Karen Springen's article serves up a substantial helping of information on a gluten-free diet as the legitimate treatment for celiac disease, but the "trend" slant still downplays that angle along with the very important message that most people with celiac disease still need to be diagnosed.

Is gluten really a new diet villain, as the Newsweek headline claims? The New York Times ran the story "Jury is Still Out on Gluten, the Latest Dietary Villain" on May 8, 2007.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CeliaCalendar: Westchester Support Meetings

Author-chefs Annalise Roberts and Connie Sarros will be the guest speakers at Sunday's meeting of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG). Billed as a "Holiday Food and Baking Spectacular," the meeting will also feature the following vendors:
Soul Dog Restaurant and Bakery
Three Dogs Gluten-Free Bakery
Miller's Gluten Free Bread Co.
Whole Foods Bakehouse
Katz Gluten Free
The meeting takes place at 2:00 pm on Sunday, December 7, 2008 at Phelps Memorial Hospital.

Also on the WCSSG schedule: a New Patient Meeting (with dinner) at the Whole Foods Market in White Plains at 7:30 pm on Thursday, January 22, 2009(!).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

WCBS-TV Covers Gluten-Free Diet

Reporting on the gluten-free diet, Kirstin Cole of WCBS-TV notes that "1 out of every 100 Americans is estimated to be allergic [sic] to wheat gluten" but doesn't point out that the vast majority of them are still in need of diagnosis and treatment. That is an urgent health message that needs to be disseminated.

Instead, her story "Consumer Watch: Gluten-Free ... Fact Or Fiction?" (December 1, 2008) mainly asserts that masses of consumers—she doesn't offer estimates of how many—are fueling a gluten-free marketing boom even though they don't understand what a gluten-free diet can and can't do. Interesting and provocative, sure, but not "news" (as it's been reported elsewhere) and not especially helpful to the sick, undiagnosed millions estimated to be living in the United States.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Prepping a Parent

Let's say you've managed to build an accommodating romantic relationship—what about "the parents" and other family members? I've previously noted how Jane Grubin accommodates her son-in-law Ben Cappel's diet. That might be the kind of thing that's in store for Ann Goldberg and her family, judging from her column "Midnight Ironing."

Of course, GFNYC's sympathies go out to Chabad and all others harmed by the recent violence in Mumbai, including those terrorized at the Cama & Albless hospital for women and children.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Diet and Romance

Here's a short Thanksgiving video on the ever-relevant issue of romance (and toothbrushing) on a gluten-free diet. Here's previous coverage. Thoughts?

Source (1:34)

Thursday, November 27, 2008


The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) recently sent this letter to The Chicago Tribune in response to the paper's articles on poor food labeling practices.
Dear Chicago Tribune Editor:

On behalf of the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) and the thousands of Americans now affected by Celiac Disease, thank you for publishing the two-part investigative series on food labeling and food manufacturing oversight entitled Allergy Threat: A Tribune Investigation" (Nov. 21 and Nov 23, 2008).

Mr. Roe's thorough and well researched article exposes the serious and sometimes life-threatening problems that can be caused by mislabeled food products. His article paints a compelling and very personal portrait of the challenges people with Celiac Disease, food allergies and other health concerns face each and every time they shop the grocery store aisles.

Celiac Disease is the world=92s most common autoimmune disease. Although most have yet to be diagnosed, it is estimated that at least 1% of the U.S. population has this inherited disease. Today, the only known treatment is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet for life.

On behalf of those living with Celiac Disease, the ACDA applauds the Chicago Tribune's efforts to raise awareness of the issue and to demand stricter oversight of food labeling and enforcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) was an important first step in protecting celiac, gluten intolerant and food-allergic consumers. Mr. Roe's article clearly indicates that more stringent oversight is necessary. We agree.

In January 2007, the FDA proposed a standard for "gluten-free" labeling. Under its proposal the maximum threshold level for gluten would be set at 20 parts per million (ppm). When finalized these regulations will help to ensure that individuals with Celiac Disease are not misled by incorrect food labels and that they have truthful, accurate and easily accessible information on processed food labels.

Until this regulation goes into effect and FDA oversight is strengthened, food-sensitive consumers will be left wondering what products they and their families can safely consume. In the case of those with celiac disease, they will also be questioning the safety of adhering to the gluten-free diet, their only medical treatment.

Andrea Levario, Executive Director
American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA)
Photo: David Marc Fischer

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still more on Whole Foods, Wellshire Farms, and Labeling

Below are updates related to The Chicago Tribune's food labeling articles. (For previous GFNYC coverage, see the posts from Friday and Sunday.)

As you might recall, the Tribune's reporting dealt in part with products marketed by Wellshire Farms and sold at Whole Foods as "gluten-free" even though, on investigation, they appear to have harmful amounts of gluten in them.

* In a follow-up article, "A recipe for disaster: Whole Foods' handling of chocolate bar shows how warnings fail" (November 23, 2008), reporter Sam Roe critiques the unreliability of some manufacturing processes as well as the warnings and assurances found on products sold at Whole Foods. Curiously, the article's gluten-free example has to do with tortillas that seem to qualify as gluten-free even though they are apparently made at high risk of cross-contamination.

* For at least a limited time, you can hear an informative interview with Roe on Chicago's Steve and Johnnie Show. (Co-host Steve King has celiac sprue.)
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
* Chicago-based Enjoy Life Foods president Scott Mandell issued a statement saying that "This kind of investigation is long overdue."

* Wellshire Farms president Louis Colameco has posted a response to the article. As you can see, the response focuses largely on one product and avoids addressing many of the serious issues—such as the >200ppm levels of gluten found in several of Wellshire's "gluten-free" products—raised in Sam Roe's article and this blog.
November 21, 2008
To Whom It May Concern:
There have been some questions about the status and production of our Wellshire and Garrett County gluten free Dino Bites as a result of a recent article printed in the Chicago Tribune. Our understanding after speaking with the author is that this article relates solely to reactions from children with anaphylaxis, that is, with severe reactions to any level of allergens.
We have not discontinued making this product, but we are in the process of improving its formulation. Our products are governed by the USDA and its regulations, not the FDA's regulations. We are in complete compliance with the USDA regulations. However, in light of a new FDA proposal under consideration to re-define "gluten-free" to a lower level of gluten parts per million (ppm) in the product than is currently allowed under FDA regulated foods, we are also working on our products conforming to their definition of "gluten-free." As the FDA considers setting a new regulation, this does not affect our legal obligation to comply with USDA regulations, which specifically govern the food products we produce. Our effort to reduce permitted gluten content is a proactive improvement of our product to meet our customer's needs, and an effort to comply with the strictest standards.
Our Wellshire products are tested at a level of 200 ppm or less, which is equivalent to 99.98% gluten free. The FDA is now considering a new proposal that would reduce the amount of gluten to be 20 ppm or to 99.998% gluten free. This will be difficult to achieve as wheat and other grains can become cross contaminated from growth in the fields, or milling in the combines. It becomes very, very difficult if not impossible to control.
The FDA interprets the definition of gluten free to concern the level or amount of gluten in the product; thereby recognizing that there is still a contaminate of gluten in the product. The USDA bases the gluten free claim on the identity of the ingredients listed in the product, that is prohibiting the use of ingredients that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley, or rye.
It may take a month more to fully complete the transition of the Wellshire products, but the Dino Bites will be returning to store shelves as soon as possible. This new Dino Bite will be a better tasting product, suitable for child and adult palates alike.
Wellshire is committed to improving the quality of our products. We apologize for any inconvenience this confusion between the USDA and FDA regulations may have caused our customers.
Thank you.
Louis B. Colameco, III President
* I have yet to see any response or statement from Whole Foods.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More on Wellshire Farms

A Look at the Findings

Following up on Friday's post, let's focus on some of the Chicago Tribune's test findings.

The Tribune wrote the following in a kind of sidebar:
The FDA doesn't define "gluten free," but generally "free" means a product contains none of the substance in question. The FDA has proposed adopting a 20 parts per million standard. In July, an international health commission recommended a similar standard.

The USDA, which has jurisdiction over meat products (including those below), has no policy specifically addressing "gluten-free" claims. The agency OKs labels before products go to market....

The Tribune bought three popular Wellshire Farms products advertised as "gluten free" and sent multiple samples to a lab for testing.

Chicken Bites: Tested at 204 parts per million and 260 ppm

Chicken Corn Dogs: Tested at 116 ppm and 2,200 ppm

Beef Corn Dogs: Tested at 191 ppm and 1,200 ppm

Wellshire Farms provided the Tribune with its own testing results, conducted in the spring. Their results showed: chicken nuggets tested at 200 ppm, chicken corn dogs 150 ppm, and beef corn dogs 120 ppm.
Prior to the adoption of the 20 ppm standard, the standard for many was 200 ppm, which might explain why Wellshire Farms claims the 200/150/120 levels (though I think that 200 ppm for the chicken nuggets was really pushing it).

Setting those numbers aside, the Chicago Tribune story, which seems credible, strongly suggests that, in practice, test levels are actually very variable with the possibility of highly problematic levels of contamination.

This makes me lean more toward labeling standards that include a ppm rating that indicates the probable level of gluten plus the possible high level, based on up-to-date testing (using the most appropriate testing equipment, which varies according to product). I'm not sure if a score of <20/120 or (in the case of the beef corn dogs, perhaps 120/1200) would be the best solution, but something in that direction should be seriously considered. And, as Ben Cappel has suggested, label dates would be good to heighten understanding of how up-to-date (or out-of-date) a food rating might be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Warning: Deceptive Labeling from Wellshire Farms

Whole Foods, USDA, FDA May Also Be Passing the Buck

It's bad when a company mislabels food as "gluten-free" when it isn't. It's even worse when, after being "caught," it continues to do so. And that seems to be the case with Wellshire Farms and, by association, Whole Foods Market.

In 2006, GFNYC shared a report about mislabeled Wellshire Farms Lemon Herb Turkey Breast bought at Whole Foods Columbus Circle. Now Sam Roe of The Chicago Tribune reports the mislabeling of Wellshire Kids' Dinosaur Shapes Chicken Bites (which, Roe writes, are marketed exclusively by Whole Foods) as well as Chicken Corn Dogs and Beef Corn Dogs, both marked as "gluten-free."

In the article "Children at risk in food roulette" (November 21, 2008), Roe writes
Take the example of Peggy Pridemore, a Kentucky woman who bought Wellshire Kids' Dinosaur Shapes Chicken Bites because her son Patrick has a severe wheat allergy. Bold letters on the packaging said the item was "gluten free," or contained no wheat, rye and barley proteins.

After Patrick, then 3, ate the nuggets in December, he started coughing, his eyes swelled and he had trouble breathing. His mom jabbed his leg with a large needle containing epinephrine, a drug to help him breathe, then raced him to the hospital, where he recovered in the emergency room.

Pridemore said she contacted both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the food manufacturer and that neither offered to test the chicken nuggets.

The Tribune recently bought the product on two occasions at a River Forest supermarket and sent the samples to one of the nation's leading food-allergy labs, at the University of Nebraska. Both times, the lab found gluten. The item remains on shelves across the U.S.

* * *

Pridemore recalled how she bought Wellshire Kids' dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, made by New Jersey-based Wellshire Farms, because the item specifically claimed to be gluten free. She also found the same claim on the Wellshire Farms Web site.

After her son had the severe reaction to the nuggets, she took some to his allergist, who ran tests, including gently rubbing a nugget on the boy's arm to see if it would cause a small welt. It did, and the allergist concluded the nuggets were to blame for his full-blown reaction.

Pridemore contacted the USDA, which sent agency investigator Michael Maxwell to her home just outside Cincinnati. He took photos of the package, but did not test the nuggets for undisclosed allergens.

The investigator also obtained a copy of a brief, unsigned in-plant inspection report, which found no problems with the nuggets. He later acknowledged to the Tribune he wasn't sure who wrote the report—another USDA inspector or a plant worker. The report said workers routinely sent the nuggets out to a lab for testing. The report stated that those lab results, from last fall, "were all negative for gluten."

In an e-mail in January, Maxwell indicated to Pridemore that in light of that inspection report and the fact that no other consumer had complained, no action would be taken. "You may want to have the product tested," he wrote, according to a copy of the e-mail exchange.

Pridemore said she was taken aback that the USDA suggested she test the food herself. But she sent the remainder of the nuggets in her freezer to the Nebraska lab.

The results showed high amounts of gluten. So she e-mailed a copy of the findings to the USDA and reminded Maxwell that the product advertises itself as gluten free.

The investigator wrote back that the government had "archived your complaint." The investigation went no further, according to Pridemore. She also e-mailed the test results to Wellshire Farms. The company, she said, never responded.

In May, several weeks after Maxwell told Pridemore her complaint was archived, a second child with a known wheat allergy—Timmy Osterhoudt, 5, of Lemoore, Calif.—had a severe reaction after eating the same product, his mother said.

"He said, 'Mommy, I don't want to die!'" Michelle Osterhoudt recalled. "I told him, 'Mommy won't let you die.' "

She jabbed him with the epinephrine needle and raced him to the military hospital on the base where the family lives. There, he recovered.

Like Pridemore, Osterhoudt sent the chicken bites to the Nebraska lab for testing. Again, the results showed high amounts of gluten. She said she complained to Wellshire Farms, USDA and FDA, but to no avail.

USDA spokeswoman Amanda Eamich said one reason it did not ask Wellshire Farms to recall the chicken bites is because the agency did not trust the consumers' testing results. The consumers had sent samples of chicken nuggets from opened packages, raising the possibility that the product was contaminated somewhere between their homes and the lab.

Pridemore said it was the USDA's job—not consumers—to test samples from unopened packages.

"I'm not a doctor. I'm not a scientist," she said. "I'm just a mom trying to keep her child safe."

The Tribune recently bought two samples of the chicken nuggets and sent them to the same Nebraska lab. Both tested positive for gluten—including a sample from an unopened box.

The nuggets, said Steve Taylor, the lab's director and a leading allergy expert, "are not safe for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease," often characterized by chronic abdominal pain.

The newspaper also tested two other Wellshire Kids' products: the "Gluten Free" Chicken Corn Dogs and the "Gluten Free" Beef Corn Dogs, finding high amounts of gluten in both.

Wellshire Farms owner Louis Colameco said his products are safe. But he said that in light of the two consumer complaints and recent moves by regulators to tighten "gluten-free" rules, he halted production of the three Wellshire Kids' products in June.

Colameco said he would start making the food again when he finds a supplier who can guarantee that the batter used in the products is gluten free. The old supplier, he said, could not give such an assurance.

He said he has not recalled the Wellshire Kids products still on store shelves because he believes they are in compliance with federal regulations.

But weak and murky federal rules on gluten leave food companies wiggle room and consumers at risk.

The USDA, which has jurisdiction over meat-based products such as chicken nuggets, said it has no policy specifically addressing "gluten-free" claims. The agency must approve labels before products go to market, and packaging claims are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The FDA's rules are tougher. Though the agency has no specific rule for "gluten-free" products, the agency's policy generally is that absent a standard, products claiming to be "free" of an ingredient cannot contain it.

Recognizing that food companies may interpret these rules as they wish, the FDA has pushed a proposed rule that products advertised as "gluten-free" must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. A UN health panel this summer recommended a similar standard. Tribune tests of Wellshire products all far exceeded those levels.

Apart from online sales, the Wellshire Kids' gluten-free products are sold exclusively at Whole Foods Market, the upscale chain..

Whole Foods said it was investigating the issue, but that it was the supplier's responsibility, not Whole Foods', to ensure the Wellshire products are safe and legal.
GFNYC encourages you to spread the word and bring this matter to the attention of your local Whole Foods Market. And keep an eye on your legislators to ensure that labeling becomes more reliable and enforceable. Budget cuts could make the situation worse.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Help for the Gluten-Free Displaced by SoCal Fires

From Maryrose Hopke of the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF):
If you have celiac disease and have been displaced from your home by the recent fires in the Southern California area and are in need of assistance in finding gluten-free foods, please contact CDF at 818-990-2354. We're
here to help!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Joan's" Lunch in December

Joan's GF Great Bakes—Long Island purveyors of top-notch gf goodiess—will host a product testing and pizza-making party starting at 11am on Saturday, December 13, 2008. In addition to pizzas and new pumpernickel dinner rolls, there will be bagels, cookies, and English muffins.

For more information, see the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG) or the Long Island Celiac Disease Meetup Group (LICDMG).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chefs in the News (and Newsday)

Rosemary Black's article-with-recipes "Flour power! Learning to bake gluten-free breads and cookies" (Daily News, November 14, 2008) revolves around chef Richard Coppedge of Hyde Park's prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA)—and author of Gluten-Free Baking. According to the article, Coppedge will hold a gluten-free baking class on Saturday, December 13, 2008.

Days earlier on Long Island—on Tuesday, December 9—gluten-free chef Joseph Felicetta is to serve up "a gluten-free international wine dinner" at the Sayville restaurant Oysterman's. It's a six-course meal for $75 per person plus tax and gratuities, according to Joan Reminick on Newsday's Feed Me blog.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shameless Shirt Promotion

The Gluten-Free NYC Boutique feels that every season is gift-giving season, but if any one season is gift-giving season, it would have to be this one.

Whenever you're thinking of gift-giving, please keep the GFNYC Boutique's products in mind.

Thank you for your attention.

Special designs, including the Gluten-Free Alphabet (right), by Debbie Glasserman Design

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Celiac on the House

Source (0:30)

The doctor who is the title character of House is a jerk. But at least he knows from celiac disease! The oft-misdiagnosed condition played an important part in the November 9, 2006 episode "Forever"—and it also came up in the November 11, 2008 episode "The Itch" (Season 5, Episode 7) according to a recap by Charmaine P. Dennis.

One of the medical clues that raised the question of celiac disease was villous atrophy; another was peripheral neuropathy. According to the Fox TV episode summary, House rejects the conventional strategy of starting diagnosis with a celiac blood panel and instead orders the following diagnostic technique: "force-feed the patient wheat, then do an endoscopy as it hits his duodenum to see if there's an allergic reaction." Sounds very radical to me—it seems part of the goal to make the patient experience symptoms—and I'm not even sure it's possible. But what do I know? I'm just a layperson. Is there a doctor in the house? If so, feel free to chime in!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Pain in the...Mouth

Celiac disease is just one of many conditions associated with canker sores, as noted in the health advice column "Treat mouth tenderly to reduce canker sores" (November 11, 2008).
People with conditions such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis or Reiter's syndrome are more commonly affected. Factors that can contribute to the development of canker sores are stress, trauma and deficiencies of iron, folate, zinc and vitamin B12.
Here's a recent study that found that "The epidemiological association found between coeliac disease and aphthous-like ulcers suggests that recurrent aphthous-like ulcers should be considered a risk indicator for coeliac disease, and that gluten-free diet leads to ulcer amelioration." In other words, canker sores can be a sign of celiac disease, and a gluten-free diet can treat canker sores in people with celiac disease.

Do you wonder if you have celiac disease? Before trying to to go gluten-free, seek a conventional diagnosis by consulting with an informed doctor about getting the blood panel used to test for the condition.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

Catherine Oddenino of A Gluten-Free Guide website just took the plunge into online video with a set of Thanksgiving cooking videos for MyRecipes.

The viewing options include Turkey...

Source (1:32)

...Sweet Potato Casserole...

Source (1:14)

...and Cheesecake!

Source (1:21)

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Gluten-Free Mum and Her Hardrocking Son

This WalesOnline article focuses on Lostprophets lead singer Ian Watkins and his mum Elaine Davies's kidney transplant, but it also mentions coeliac disease and osteoporosis as being among her other ailments. Here's to their health—and here's to organ donation!

And here Watkins uses some strong language to encourage fans to offer their hearts for transplantation.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gluten-Free, Politically

It's a very good morning over at Gluten-Free NYC, filled with the promise of positive change—and not just because of enthusiasm over Barack Obama's victory. As the nation moves toward a fresh start and the possibility of more unity, it strikes GFNYC that a health policy that raises public awareness of celiac disease is something that both Democrats and Republicans can agree upon.

As you might recall, GFNYC supported Barack Obama but noted that both of the big party presidential tickets could offer improvements for people with celiac disease. Gluten Free Blog expressed a similar position in favor of Obama.

As John McCain and Sarah Palin return to their regular jobs as senator and governor, they can still follow through on their concern for "special needs" households, including those affected by celiac disease and associated conditions, including Down Syndrome and, possibly, autism as it is currently being diagnosed.

Palin in particular should also be aware that millions of Americans may still be undiagnosed with celiac disease, as her prominent supporter Jane Swift and her outspoken advocate Elisabeth Hasselbeck are known to have the condition. So perhaps the Anchorage GIG group can do something with that.

Closer to home, Kemp Hannon retained his seat in the New York State Senate. He has recognized that early screening for celiac disease is an idea worth consideration.

As far as the national government is concerned, GFNYC notes that Representative Nita Lowey, Senator James Inhofe, and Senator Ben Nelson all remain in office. They might not agree on much, but each has advocated on behalf of people with celiac disease.

Also remaining in office is Senator Hillary Clinton, an advocate of universal health care whose husband Bill recently talked up the value of "gluten-free" cassava.

Presiding over all of these politicians will be Barack Obama, a supporter of preventive medicine and universal health care for children who recognizes that some government programs are worth additional funding even during budgetary crises. GFNYC hopes that the FDA's ability to enforce food labeling accuracy will improve under his administration.

Celiac disease might not mean much to the general population in the great scheme of things. But sensible, progressive policies regarding celiac disease should find a place on the agenda as American leaders search for ways to build unity and consensus.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pumpkin Soup

I just love me a hearty and warming pumpkin soup. I've already posted on the subject, but I thought I'd return to it, what with it being pumpkin season again. So I found this promising recipe—from Oklahoma!

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Gluten-Free Recession?

For months the typical marketing story on gluten-free products described (and predicted an additional) boom in the market, due to people on medical diets as well as trend or fad followers.

But might the recent shakiness of the economy lessen the extent of the boom? That might be the case if the cost of gluten-free products remains relatively high. Consider the articles "Gluten-Free Diet: A Cure for Some, a Fad for Most" (U.S. News and World Report, October 31, 2008) and "Budgets Squeezed, Some Families Bypass Organics" (The New York Times, November 1, 2008).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chefs Speak Out in Time Out New York

The Time Out New York "Kitchen report 2008" (October 30-November 5, 2008) offers some insights into the mindset of 40 Big Apple chefs.

One question was
What’s the worst thing about New York restaurantgoers?
The biggest complaint from chefs is that New Yorkers are too discerning, too picky and too bitchy. Some put it politely: "They’re very demanding, they really know what they want. They’re really knowledgeable and have high expectations." Some cut to the chase and called you "elitist and high maintenance." One particularly pissed-off chef hates it when you order sauce on the side.
What customer "faux pas" pisses off the chefs the most? Answers included "Saying they are allergic to something when they’re not." and "Bad tipping and impatience if the restaurant is busy and slammed." One chef also suggested that "If you can’t tip 15 to 20 percent, don’t go out to eat. Everyone is in a financial crisis, and I’m tired of listening to my servers complain."

And then there's "Are your vegetarian dishes truly vegetarian?" Eight percent said "yes" but one chef said "Yes. Well, we use chicken stock, but no one can tell the difference."

So be honest, not too demanding, and generous with your tipping. And wary.

Here's a glimpse at the food prep process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Home-Cured Salmon

Danielle Sucher at Gothamist recently published this recipe for home-cured salmon.

It looks fun and easy...and gluten-free!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zagat NYC Restaurants 2009

Below is this year's round-up of the New York City GFRAP restaurants as listed in the Zagat guide.

Candle 79 and Asia de Cuba stayed at the top of the list, with new addition S'MAC elbowing itself just ahead of Risotteria with its food rating. Price estimates tended to go up, with Candle 79 and S'MAC and Outback distinguishing themselves with rating increases.

Despite any number of trend and health pieces in the media about gluten-free dining, the Zagat guide still hasn't found much of a way to recognize gluten-free dining as a cuisine or special feature, though it is mentioned in at least three restaurant comments.

The guide notes that "Tipping remained steady at 19%, right on par with the national average." So keep that in mind when you want to make a good impression with the restaurant staff.
Candle 79
Food: 23
Service: 22 (up 1)
Decor: 20 (up 3)
Estimated dinner for one: $46 (up $10)

Asia de Cuba
Food: 23
Service: 20
Decor: 24
Estimated dinner for one: $61 (up $3)

Food: 21 (up 2)
Service: 14
Decor: 10 (up 1)
Estimated dinner for one: $16 (up $3)

Food: 20 (down 1)
Service: 15 (down 1)
Decor: 9 (down 1)
Estimated dinner for one: $24 (up $1)
Comments: "Gluten-sensitive gourmets" gather at this "tiny" Village Italian turning out "creamy risottos" and other fare fit for "those with food restrictions" yet "terrific enough for everyone else"; there's "no decor" and little elbow room, but "squeeze in" and you'll leave "happily satisfied."

Gus' Place (reopened, relocated)
Food: 19 (down 1)
Service: 20
Decor: 14 (down 2)
Estimated dinner for one: $38 (up $1)

Food: 18 (down 1)
Service: 19
Decor: 18
Estimated dinner for one: $53 (up $1)
Comments: "Perfect for a romantic interlude" or a shopping break, this UES Italian (seen in the Sex and the City movie) is set in a "lovely and comfortable" townhouse equipped with two fireplaces; "decent" food, including a "gluten-free" menu, and "pro" service help justify the tabs.

Food: 18
Service: 18
Decor: 16
Estimated dinner for one: $40 (up $2)
Comments: Maybe the "basic, family-style" Italian eats at this "kid-friendly" UWS "alternative to Carmine's" "won't wow you", but the "giant portions" may, so "go with a group" and "share"; waiters are "cheery", and - who woulda thunk? - there's a "gluten-free menu."

Outback Steakhouse
Food: 15 (up 1)
Service: 16 (up 1)
Decor: 12
Estimated dinner for one: $34 (up $2)

Friday, October 24, 2008

WABC Eyewitness News Goes to Miller's

WABC's Eyewitness News recently paid a visit to Miller's Gluten Free Bread Co. in Rochelle Park, New Jersey. The video is here.

Thanks to Erin of the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG) for the lead. You can find more coverage courtesy of Ben Cappel at the CeliacChicks website.

NOTED My sympathies to go the Coluccio, Dupont, and Milito families on their recent losses. You may know the Coluccios as purveyors of imported Italian gluten-free pasta in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Island Outlook on Celiac Disease

Kudos to Michael Thorn of the Suffolk County Celiacs and Frank Brinka of Island Outlook for a very good, up-to-date, and wide-ranging discussion of celiac disease. The running time is 30 well-spent minutes.

Island Outlook is a production of the LI Radio Group, where Eric Schwartz is Senior Account Executive. Kudos also to Schwartz, who is involved in a radio campaign to boost awareness of celiac disease.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breaking: Another Risotteria?

You can find an online interview-profile of Dominick D'Alleva, owner of the restaurants Home and Sway, at BlackBook. Here are some of his remarks:
I did open up a new restaurant that had an Italian flavor ... Risotteria on Bleecker and Morton. It’s still there, and now I can’t get a table! It started out as salads and risotto and reasonably priced Italian comfort food. Then, we got into gluten-free food, and certain people allergic to wheat loved our pizzas and cookies....

We’re going to have another Risotteria.

This Soup for You!

Today and tomorrow you can get free samples of gluten-free Kettle Cuisine soups at two Whole Foods Markets in Manhattan, according to a post on the message board of the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG).
Monday, October 20, 3-7pm
Whole Foods Chelsea
Chicken Chili with White Beans
Grilled Chicken and Corn Chowder

Tuesday, October 21, 3-7pm
Whole Foods Columbus Circle
Chicken with Rice Noodle
Angus Beef Chili
Grilled Chicken and Corn Chowder
I am not sure if gf bread is included with the samples, so ask about it at your own risk!

Source (0:55)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Joe the Celiac"

For readers of this blog, the good news about the 2008 presidential election might be that both of the major party candidates seem to be sympathetic to the needs of gluten-free people.

During the third debate, John McCain made the point that his running mate Sarah Palin is attuned to the concerns of "special needs" families. And one of McCain and Palin's more prominent supporters is Jane Swift, who is said to have celiac disease herself.

During the debate, Barack Obama echoed McCain in expressing concern for "special needs" families. But when it came to health care and budget policies, there was a clear difference between the two candidates.

McCain talked about freezing the budget and making cuts using a "hatchet" approach, while Obama stressed the importance of using a "scalpel" approach that might even allow for greater allocations for some worthy programs. Furthermore, he supported universal health care for children and preventative medicine as a way of controlling costs over the long run.

Obama's positions should have great appeal for people on gluten-free and other medical diets. As discussed previously on this blog, the FDA needs more support to safeguard our food and drug supply from contamination and ensure that labels are trustworthy. Furthermore, in a nation where the vast majority of people with celiac disease remain undiagnosed, the medical and financial benefits of preventative medicine and universal health care for children could be substantial.

No matter who wins the election, advocates for people with celiac disease might be able to make inroads through the Oval Office based on the principles espoused by the candidates during their campaigns. Gluten-Free NYC happens to favor Barack Obama for many reasons including the positions mentioned above, but if you'd like to share your own gluten-free "Joe the Celiac" or "Jane the Celiac" perspective feel free to do so here!

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shameless Celiac Promotion

During this second celiac awareness month of 2008, I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of Gluten-Free NYC Boutique items that stand out when it comes to raising awareness: The totally unsubtle "Ask me about GLUTEN" button pictured above, and the "100% Gluten Free" bumper sticker picture pictured below, which is suitable for use by any gluten-free motorist.

Special Designs by Debbie Glasserman Design

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gluten-Free Articles from NYC to Alcatraz

Rosemary Black's Daily News article "Eating gluten-free will help combat celiac disease" (October 6, 2008) offers an overview of celiac disease and notes the arrival of a new book, Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America. The article includes a recipe for a gluten-free Red Velvet Cake from the book, which is written by CIA chef Richard J. Coppedge with a foreword by Foods by George entrepreneur George Chookazian.

And Newsday recently ran the Merle English article "Man swims off Alcatraz for sister with celiac disease" (October 12, 2008), which describes how Great Neck gastroenterologist David Milkes dedicated his August 2008 "Alcatraz Challenge" swim to raising awareness about celiac disease. His sister suffered troubling symptoms for three years before his partner Chaim Abittan diagnosed her with celiac disease. Milkes raised more than $5,000 with his swim and donated the dough (gf, of course) to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU).

So please note that David Milkes and Chaim Abittan are two Long Island doctors who seem to know their celiac stuff.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mimi Winsberg Completes 2008 Ironman Triathlon

Gluten-free triathlon competitor Mimi Winsberg completed the 2008 Ironman Triathlon in 12:26:55 yesterday. She ranked 1206 out of 1735 overall, and 44 out of 69 among women in her age group. The time of the top woman finisher in her age group was 10:20:36. The time of Chrissie Wellington, the top woman finisher overall, was 9:06:23. The time of top male finisher Craig Alexander was 8:17:45. Sheesh, what's the big rush?

Congrats to Winsberg and all the other competitors!

Friday, October 10, 2008

New York Times Spotlights Gluten-Free Athletes

Climber Dave Hahn and endurance athlete Mimi Winsberg both improved performance after being diagnosed with celiac disease and eliminating gluten from their diets, reports Anna Seaton Huntington in the New York Times article "A Debilitating Disease That Is Often Unknown" (October 9, 2008).
"It was like doping," Winsberg, 42, said. "Suddenly I was running six-minute miles instead of nine-minute miles. Before I had placed in the bottom third in triathlons. Four weeks gluten free, and I placed second in a triathlon. It was like reverse aging. I went from feeling 38 to 28 to 18."
Chiming in is Dr. John Reasoner of the United States Olympic Committee: "In six to eight weeks, if they’ve followed the diet, it’s night and day."

Also in the article, Dr. Peter Green continues to disseminate the key message that "Celiac is grossly underdiagnosed in this country." How is it diagnosed? Huntington writes that "Celiac disease is diagnosed through an inexpensive panel of blood tests" though it is confirmed through endoscopic biopsy.

Tomorrow Winsberg competes in the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Hawaii, an event that involves a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile coastal run. The article asserts that she could hardly have considered participating had she not discovered that being gluten-free was crucial to her well-being.

Thanks to Laura S. for the lead!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Protecting the Vulnerable

My heart goes out to anyone trying to maintain a gluten-free diet in an institutional setting such as a hospital or a nursing home. Jokes about the poor food quality in such places are common, but it's no joke to actually be poisoned in a place that is supposed to be protecting your health when you aren't necessarily in a position to articulate your needs or advocate for yourself.

Tricia Thompson recently addressed the nursing home situation in her post "Gluten Free Meals for the Elderly," which includes an interview with nutrition consultant Ronni Alicea, who works with health care facilities to address medical diet issues and also owns Celinal Foods, which markets microwaveable gluten-free meals to such institutions.

One of Alicea's interesting suggestions is to have a celiac blood panel administered upon admission and annually thereafter, to monitor compliance with the diet. Makes sense to me—that's something anyone with celiac disease can do, in or out of a facility! I also like the emphasis on sticking to medical gluten-free diets to stay healthy and thereby minimize any need to resort to a nursing home.

Alicea also suggests that one raise dietary issues when considering nursing homes.
When selecting a nursing home, first discuss the diet with administration. As we know, gluten free diet management impacts every aspect of life.

In addition to receiving properly prepared gluten free meals we need to assure that (1) nursing reviews medications and snacks, (2) the activity department includes gluten free options in their activities, and (3) rehabilitation therapies are aware. It is vital that a person following a gluten-free diet does not isolate themselves because of the fear or perception that the staff does not understand their needs.

The facility administrator will coordinate the interdepartmental education with the guidance of the facility dietitian. Once you are comfortable that the facility is committed to continuing your parent’s gluten free lifestyle, it is time to discuss menu planning with the dietitian.
That's good advice, but the fact of the matter is that the selection process might be made under very rushed and frantic circumstances, that the possible nursing homes might be very limited in quantity and quantity, and that many people have their nursing homes chosen for them. That is one reason why the standards and practices maintained by nursing homes ought to be high enough to accommodate gluten-free and other medical diets with ease.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gluten-Free Cooking on Emeril Green

Vanessa Maltin of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) announces a segment of Emeril Green on gluten-free shopping and cooking to be aired Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 8:30pm on Discovery Green.
During this episode Emeril will help a newlywed couple learn to cook delicious gluten-free food. The wife was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and wants to make sure she can cook awesome food for her new husband! Emeril takes the couple on a shopping trip through the new Whole Foods store in Virginia and just happens to bump into Vanessa in the bakery! Vanessa will share tips for gluten-free cooking and baking and offer advice on various gluten-free grains and flours.

In the episode you'll learn to make Pizza, Gazpacho, Italian Salad, and a delicious Pasta dish.
Emeril's previous gluten-free coverage includes a segment on New Orleans cuisine and a segment on gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free cooking for a toddler, as previously noted at Gluten-Free in the Shaolin.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gluten-Free Mari Wilson

Mari Wilson topped British charts in the 1980s with her retro-pop singing and beehive hairstyle. Now she's "out" as a coeliac celebrity and feeling much better to boot.

Here she interprets "Cry Me a River."

Source (3:25)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Turnaround for the French Meadow Bakery?

Back in 2006 the French Meadow Bakery finally got in hot FDA water for marketing spelt bread as wheat free. Lately it's attempted to appeal to wheat-free and gluten-free consumers with products that are authentically gluten-free. So far I've seen the GFCO-certified frozen brownies and cookie dough...and now I've seen a video that discusses celiac disease and the gluten-free market.

It's not too bad and worth watching, though one can find quibbles with it. The video presents gluten as something as damaging as Drano to people with celiac disease; I'm not expert on the subject, but I think Drano is actually more dangerous. It also claims that celiac disease is uniquely treatable by diet, but I believe that people with food allergies fall would qualify.

But enough prattling. Let's go on with the show!

Source (9:45)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thorn on the Air

Michael Thorn of the Suffolk County Celiacs writes that he can be heard on the air starting Sunday on the following stations at the following times:
WHLI (1100AM) 9am
WKJY (98.3FM) 6am
WBZO (103.1FM ) 7am
WMJC (94.3FM) 7am
WLVG (96.1FM) 7am
WRCN (103.9FM) 6am & 11pm
Photo: David Marc Fischer

Monday, September 22, 2008

Celiac Disease in Men (and Women)

Did JFK have celiac disease? Adam Voiland of U.S. News and World Report uses that question as the hook in "Celiac Disease in Men Threatens Bone Health," a September 19, 2008 overview of celiac disease that emphasizes its effects on men and draws upon the research of Dr. Peter Green. "One of Green's articles, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology (SJG), shows that celiac disease appears to progress faster in men, deprive men's bodies of more needed nutrients, and cause particularly acute damage to bones," writes Voiland.

Regular readers of this blog should already know that adults diagnosed with celiac disease should be tested for osteoporosis, and that people with low bone density (especially when the cause is a "mystery") should seriously consider being tested for celiac disease. People diagnosed with coexisting celiac disease and osteoporosis have a good chance of improvement after going on a gluten-free diet that includes calcium. As Voiland puts it in his article, "For people who do have both diseases, research has shown that adopting a gluten-free diet halts the progression of osteoporosis and even improves bone density by 10 percent, Green says."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Discount on Baked Goods at Whole Foods

Select locations of Whole Foods in the greater metropolitan area are offering $2 discounts on items from the Whole Foods Market bakery section through the end of October. The "Take $2 off purchases of $10 or more" promotion includes gluten-free goods baked by Whole Foods as well as other items, such as those made by Foods by George and Aleia's. So if you've been curious about Aleia's but turned off by the Whole Foods markup, this discount might lessen the pain.

The offer applies in some—but apparently not all—locations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, including all five—yes, five—Manhattan locations. (Apparently there's a new Whole Foods in Tribeca at 270 Greenwich Street.) To the best of my knowledge, no other boroughs are represented.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuttoriso covered in Staten Island Advance

Staten Island Advance reporter Pamela Silvestri writes up the GFRAP restaurant Tuttoriso in her September 18, 2008 article "Defloured."

Silvestri writes, "It is important to recognize the importance of Tuttoriso for Staten Islanders, particularly those who suffer from specific carbohydrate, milk protein or wheat allergies. Most importantly, this is one of the few Staten Island restaurants where significant items -- breads and a respectable variety of baked goods -- are being made from scratch. Without a doubt, this vertical control over ingredients helps indemnify a business geared to those with food allergies."

Silvestri praises the baked goods and home cooking as well as the restaurant's efforts to cater to people on special diets, but she also notes slow service (somewhat understandable considering the home cooking) as well as the lack of complimentary "welcoming" appetizers (an absence certainly not unique to this GFRAP restaurant).

I can see where Silvestri's coming from, but I'd like to stress just how good the gluten-free sandwiches, desserts, and drinks can be. (I'm still making my way through the menu, so I'm not yet ready to pass judgment on many other offerings at Tuttoriso.) If you haven't yet sampled the restaurant's breads and baked treats, I urge you to make the journey to Tuttoriso and give them a try—especially while the weather is still pretty good. Only a short walk from the ferry landing, Tuttoriso is a great destination for gluten-free day-trippers, date-trippers, and tourists as well as commuters ferrying between Staten Island and Manhattan. Kerrie at Gluten-Free in the Shaolin goes so far as to call the restaurant a "gift."

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boston's Healthy Villi Group Breaks with CSA

This summer, the Healthy Villi support group of Boston informed the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) that, "After careful consideration, the Board of the Healthy Villi has voted to end our affiliation with CSA/USA. Our two groups are educating members with conflicting information. This does a disservice to both CSA/USA and the Healthy Villi."

In the letter conveying the decision, Lee Graham of the Healthy Villi cites the following:
  • Scientific evidence shows that distilled vinegars and distilled alcoholic beverages, regardless of the source grain, are safe choices in a gluten-free diet.
  • Currently, the clinicians of the Celiac Center of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recommend avoiding consumption of oats for newly diagnosed patients, but only until it can be clearly demonstrated that celiac disease is well controlled. After this point, gradual addition of pure oats from a gluten-free facility may be attempted under a physician's guidance. Studies show that eating pure oats can be advantageous for celiacs as a way of adding fiber to their diet.
  • Current scientific consensus is that a food product measured to have less than 20 parts per million of gluten is suitable for the gluten-free diet.
  • The letter also states that "The American Dietary Association [sic], the Gluten Intolerance Group, and the Celiac Disease Foundation speak with one voice. They educate people with celiac disease with the same consistent information. CSA/USA takes a different stand."

    Thanks to Michael Thorn for the info.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Shameless Shirt Promotion

    When I launched the Gluten-Free NYC Boutique last year, I planned to donate a portion of the revenue to a gluten-free cause. So today I'm very happy to announce that the first donated portion is on its way to the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG). If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know I'm a fan of this support group, which has played a critical role in improving the lives and the health of people with celiac disease in the greater metropolitan area. The check is in the mail, WCSSG!

    And remember: You can find designer Debbie Glasserman's Gluten-Free Alphabet (below) and other designs at the Gluten-Free NYC Boutique.