Sunday, August 31, 2008

Outback Alert

Brown Sugar May (or May Not) Be Cross-Contaminated

It is possible that some Outback restaurants might bring their brown sugar into contact with bread to prevent clumping. So it seems that, for the moment, people on gluten-free and wheat-free diets should inquire at individual Outbacks as to whether any part of an order that is supposed to be gluten-free might be made with the cross-contaminated sugar. One item to ask about would be the sweet potato; I'm not sure what else might be made with brown sugar.

Outback has offered a gluten-free menu [PDF], made in coordination with the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and then GIG's Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP), for a number of years. The GFRAP roster currently includes 786 Outback restaurants.

Questions about possible cross-contamination in the brown sugar seem to have arisen at least as far back as April 2006. More recently, the blog Grain Damaged reported that cookbook author Connie Sarros offered the following in her "Newsletterette."
Last month, I posted that Outback Steakhouse places a piece of wheat bread in their brown sugar to keep it fresh. I called four different Outbacks in my area and all four agreed that they do place a piece of bread in the bag of brown sugar. Since that time, I have learned that each Outback Steakhouse determines whether or not to add the bread; this decision is based on how quickly they use up the brown sugar and whether or not the bread is needed. It is possible that the Outback near you may not use the bread. It is best to ask the manager once you arrive at the restaurant or call ahead.
On the International Celiac Disease Mailing List, Betty Barfield (President of the North Texas Gluten Intolerance Group (NTGIG)) shared correspondence she had with Gina Marcoff, Vice President of Training & Development for Outback Steakhouse. Marcoff acknowledged the issue in the correspondence.
The restaurants really do handle the brown sugar differently. This practice was brought to our attention recently, and it is something that we need to be aware of for those who are gluten intolerant. We are preparing to film a training video for October's meeting, and we've decided to focus on gluten intolerance, so it's a great topic for us to address!
A mailing list member from Indianapolis chimed in with the following:
Outback has long been a "friend" to people with celiac -- so I hope that folks won't just be too afraid to go there now. At least in our city, they have such a positive attitude toward making sure their GF Menu is safe -- and I think this helpful attitude is a top-down way of doing business.

This is what I found out about our local Outback:

-- YES, they do put piece of bread in the brown sugar to keep it fresh.

-- BUT, when someone orders from the GLUTEN FREE menu (again, this is the policy at our local Outback -- it does not speak for others), the waiter codes that order as gluten free, and they know to open a fresh bag of brown sugar, and that is what is put on the sweet potato.

-- In fact, she told me that the manager of their restaurant location is usually the one who manages the plating of all GF orders, and he is STRICT! If anyone else is doing it, he watches over like a hawk.

*** As for me, I will know now to always ask, at any Outback (and perhaps ANY restaurant now!), if they ever put bread in the brown sugar. But it seems an easy and straightforward thing to ask -- and probably not too much trouble to also ask (if the case) that a new package of brown sugar is opened for one's potato -- or just decide to leave it off. Mostly, I really encourage people to COMMUNICATE with and not boycott their local Outbacks -- which, I think, was also the sentiment of Betty Barfield's note as well.
I will try to add updates about this as they become available. It is a shame that this problem—which seems relatively minor as far as potential cross-contamination is concerned—has existed for so long, and that neither GFRAP nor Outback has been very proactive in addressing and correcting it. I'm glad that Outback plans to deal with it on a corporate basis a month from now, but I'd feel a lot better if I knew that the company were dealing with it immediately—and I'd feel even better if Outback had taken care of this problem already. It might be time for a soup-to-nuts review of Outback's—and GFRAP's—standards and practices.

Something else can be learned from this: Mixing bread and brown sugar to break up the sugar seems to be a common practice even though this source says that the bread isn't necessary. So that's something else to keep in mind when trying to avoid cross-contamination. And, if bread isn't even necessary to do the job, then it would be good to spread the word about that—perhaps starting with Outback.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

CYE Summer Camp

Last weekend GFNYC offered a glimpse of the program for gluten-free kids at California's Camp Arroyo. This weekend, let's take a look at this summer's Coeliac Youth of Europe (CYE) camp for young adults.

CYE has convened such camps nearly every summer since 1999, each time in a different country. This year's event, which took place in Finland and involved young people from more than a dozen European nations, included a lecture from pediatric disease celiac specialist Markku Maki in addition to many outdoor activities. I think it'd be great if CYE would agree to host some gluten-free campers from outside of Europe, just to enhance the experience and increase the understanding of celiac disease as a global health issue.

Here is a "welcoming video" for the camp.

Source (7:32)

Here's a video album looking back on the experience.


And here's a brief, multi-lingual "thank you" from the participants.

Source (1:04)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mary's Gold Crackers

Plus Award-Winning Recipes

The above picture shows renowned chef Jacques Pépin with Mary's Gone Crackers co-founder Mary Waldner at this summer's Fancy Food Show hosted in Manhattan by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade's (NASFT). At the food show, Mary's Gone Crackers won the Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation, Gold Award for Outstanding Cracker of 2008.

Yes, that's right: Gluten-free crackers got the gold in the cracker category! Will wonders never cease? (I hope not.)

While they were in town for the food show, Mary and her husband and partner, Dale Rodrigues, hosted a dinner (chaperoned courtesy of publicist Rachel Kay) at the GFRAP restaurant Lumi that was attended by myself, Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun and the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG), Nancy Lapid of, and Cynthia Beckman and Dr. Peter Green of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU). While we waited for our orders, we munched on sticks and twigs piled atop our table. That might sound a little primitive unless you know that Mary and Dale recently branched out and added Sticks & Twigs to their product line. The "gluten equivalent" of these hearty and crisp snacks might be sesame sticks—so keep them in mind for dips and appetizers as well as attacks of the munchies.

A funny thing about our get-together was how some of us were virtually bubbling over with ideas about Mary's Gone Crackers—they should be vitamin fortified, they should come with something to educate people about what "gluten-free" means, etc. But the bottom line is that Mary's Gone Crackers are fine as they are—and that Mary's Gone Crackers has a very good track record in terms of working with reputable gluten-free causes, including the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF).

In fact, I think I first tasted the crackers because they'd been donated as refreshments at an event featuring Dr. Green (more recently, Sticks & Twigs samples were in the goody bags at the recent "Chill and Grill" CDCCU fundraiser in Queens), but the products really won me over after I used a coupon to buy some for myself at my local health food store. A 13-cracker serving contains 12% of the daily value of dietary fiber, 6% of the daily value of iron, and 4% of the daily value of calcium. And, as I've just learned this week, the Herb flavor goes well with peanut butter.

I've also heard some musings of combining the crackers with chocolate, but I haven't gone there yet.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Coeliac UK (CUK) named two winners in its Gluten-Free Chef of the Year competition, part of its Food Without Fear campaign. Vanessa Scott, of the Norfolk hotel-and-restaurant Strattons, won with her cheesy Twice-Baked Binham Blue & Potato soufflé [PDF]; Christine Bailey, a journalist and chef trainer [see article here], won with her Apricot and Orange Polenta Cake [PDF]. Catering student Sophie Haskins received "outstanding achievement" recognition for her Oshi Sushi [PDF].

Congrats to all!

Photo courtesy of the NASFT

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CeliaCalendar: Westchester Events

Walking, Talking, and Eating in September

As mentioned previously, the third annual Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease takes place at Rye High School in Rye, New York, on September 14, 2008. This is the third edition of a fundraising event that has earned more than $113,000 over the past two years, with the money going to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU).

Calling this event a "walk" doesn't quite capture its magnitude. There is indeed a walk—but there are also vendors and talks. The vendors currently include Everybody Eats, Gaga's Inc., Gluten-Free Living, and Joan's GF Great Bakes. The speakers include Suzanne Simpson, the new nutritionist at the CDCCU and Rory Jones, who co-authored Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic with CDCCU director Dr. Peter Green. Lunches and snacks will be available for purchase from the Poughkeepsie GFRAP restaurant Soul Dog.

Pre-registration, which earns you a free t-shirt and saves you $5, ends on September 2.

A week after this event, Dr. Green speaks at the September 21 meeting of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG) at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York from 2 to 4pm. This is an opportunity to learn about celiac disease from an expert; some vendors should also be present.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Arrivals, Departures, and Weddings at CDCCU

Judging from word-of-mouth and the looks of the new stationery, there's been some reshuffling recently at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU).

Among the departures is nutritionist Anne Roland Lee, who recently wed and became the United States rep for Dr. Schär foods, as reported by nutritionist Tricia Thompson, her friend and colleague...and wedding guest. Thompson notes that the gluten-free wedding's caterer was Scarsdale's Standing Room Only and the cakemaker was none other than Brooklyn's Everybody Eats.

The CDCCU currently has the following staff. (I haven't found all "official" links, so here and there I offer some unusual ones.)
Peter H.R. Green, MD (Director)
Suzanne K. Lewis, MD
Christina Tennyson, MD (also just married!)

Amy R. DeFelice, MD
Philip G. Kazlow, MD
Steve Lobritto, MD
Mercedes Martinez, MD

Suzanne Simpson, RD (arriving from Canada!)

Cynthia Beckman


Maria Teresa Minaya
Nutritionist Simpson is scheduled to make a presentation on September 14, 2008 at the Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease in Rye, New York. Dr. Green is scheduled to speak at the September 21, 2008 meeting of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG).

Friday, August 22, 2008

California's Camp Arroyo

ABC News in the Bay Area (you know, around San Francisco) recently produced this strong segment on Camp Arroyo, which hosts thousands of children with illnesses each summer. For free.

This particular news story, in which Cheryl Jennings focuses on a Camp Arroyo session for children with celiac disease, spotlights Dr. Doug Corley, YMCA chef Nicole Lucia, breadmaker Anna Sobaski of Breads from Anna, and camp co-founder Elaine Taylor, of the Taylor Family Foundation. She herself has been diagnosed with celiac disease. Also appearing are NFL veteran Rich Gannon and his daughter Danielle,

The Taylor Family Foundation is having its annual "Day in the Park" fundraiser at Camp Arroyo (in Livermore California) this Sunday, August 24, 2008. People involved in the event include Jennings and former women's soccer Olympian Brandi Chastain.

The camp's donation page is here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Gluten-free diets gaining in popularity"

Recent Article in USA Today

"Meet the latest dietary bad boy: gluten," starts Kim Painter's USA Today article "Gluten-free diets gaining in popularity" (August 17, 2008).

Painter notes that "Marketers estimate that 15% to 25% of consumers want gluten-free foods — though doctors estimate just 1% have celiac disease, the best-defined and most severe form of gluten intolerance, says Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the non-profit Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG)." Painter also quotes American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dee Sandquist as saying that there is "a fad aspect" to the diet among college students.

Painter cites Dr. Alessio Fasano as noting that 110,000 Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease, up from 40,000 in 2003—but that about 2,890,000 remain undiagnosed. He notes that, besides those people, there are those who may react poorly to gluten even though they do not test positive for celiac disease. Sandquist surmises that others might feel better on a gluten-free diet because they may be eating more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and processed food.

Dr. Peter Green (right) of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU) stresses the importance of getting an exact diagnosis from a doctor, which is best done while on a gluten-inclusive diet.

If, as the article suggests, the growing "popularity" of gluten-free diets might offer more and better dining options, just imagine how much better it would be if the millions of people with undiagnosed celiac disease received correct diagnoses. Their health would improve while their numbers would enhance a fad-proof gluten-free market.

A sidebar identifies the following trouble signs that one should discuss with a physician:
• Frequent diarrhea
• Frequent constipation
• Frequent bloating
• Unintended weight loss
• Failure to grow (in children)
• Anemia
• Unexplained fatigue
• Frequent headaches
• Bone or joint pain
• Itchy skin lesions
• Tooth enamel defects
• Mouth ulcers

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fundraising Opportunity

You may be able to help raise $10,000 for "a national celiac disease awareness campaign."

All you have to do is order an American Dining Card from Triumph Dining. You can use the card when ordering a gluten-free meal—and it'll only cost you 70 cents for shipping and handling. If Triumph Dining receives a whopping 15,000 orders in August, it will donate ten grand to one or more celiac causes.

Frankly, I hope that Triumph Dining will make a significant donation even if the 15,000 orders don't come in.

Read this for more details. And read this blog to keep up with Triumph's progress.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shameless Shirt Promotion

Going back to school? Ready yourself at the Gluten-Free NYC Boutique, home of the Gluten-Free Alphabet!

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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update: Amy Yoder Begley

Spoiler Warning: Race results will appear in the comments

Amy Yoder Begley's run in the Olympic Women's 10K is scheduled for tomorrow.

I plan to post the results here as soon as I can after the event takes place (noonish Friday, Eastern time). [Actually now I think it's actually midnightish. Whatever. I'll try to keep you apprised regardless.] [Now I'm back to thinking it's at 10:45am ET today. Still: Whatever.]

In the meantime: Begley has written a couple of new journal entries that touch on her being on a gluten-free diet. On August 12 she wrote
At training camp, I took yesterday afternoon easy. I went for a long walk along the beach. I came upon a temple like structure with a big bell. It was on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It was beautiful. It made me remember why I run. I use to run for 4 reasons, now I have 3.

1. To see how good I can be. (My goal is to improve every year.)
2. To travel and see new places (experience other cultures)
3. To meet new people

My 4th one use to be: eat new and exciting foods in different places. I use to be an adventurous eater. However, with Celiac that is not possible. Now I carry my own bars and my translation cards that explain what I can eat. The cards also tell about Celiac.
Do you feel that it is impossible to be an adventurous eater if you are on a medical gluten-free diet? I think that it's just a different kind of adventure. You can try new foods and recipes with unusual ingredients, and even travel "off the beaten path" to find gluten-free oases. Plus, there's even a danger factor that makes adventurous eating a real adventure! So really, aren't we lucky?

In Begley's August 14 entry, she describes eating at the Olympic Village cafeteria. As you might recall from my previous post, she eats mainly at the U.S. training camp, where she feels more confident that the food is gluten-free. However....
The cafeteria is a fun place to meet people. I only go in there for bananas, yogurt, and drinks. Bananas are a hot item. They go fast and they only have them out for breakfast. We also have a mini plastic coke bottle key chain that we can swipe at any coke machine in the village to get free drinks. They have coke, coke zero, water, sprite, green tea, orange juice and this yummy orange drink. I drink it for breakfast. It is probably not the best choice because it is probably loaded with sugar.
Here's wishing Begley a great run!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gluten-Free Foraging at 2008 Olympics

Runner Amy Yoder Begley Seeks Safe Food at Beijing Event

Several days ago, I read about Ryan Jaranilla, senior executive chef at the Olympic Catering Services Project of the Athletes’ Village in Beijing. This comment from Jaranilla piqued my interest: "I got a call from my sous chef at 1 a.m., asking me if he could serve couscous salad to an athlete with a gluten-free diet, since the dietician was not around and I have a Nutrition background."

So who among the 10,500 athletes in the Olympic Village is on a gluten-free diet? Today I found an answer, thanks to a note Christine Egli shared on the International Celiac Mailing List.

In Amy Yoder Begley's online journal, the Women's 10K runner writes that she received a diagnosis of "wheat and gluten allergy" almost three years ago. Since then, her diet has typically been "full of fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes and gluten free substitutes." But in her profile she lists her favorite foods as "Dark chocolate and peanut butter (no wheat...I have Celiac Disease!)".

Last December Begley wrote about how happy she was to eat gluten-free when in Connecticut for the Manchester Road Race.
Thanksgiving was great this year. I ran the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, Connecticut. What a great city and race. I stayed with a wonderful host family - Bill and Carol O'Neil. They were so nice. I enjoyed spending the holiday with them and their family. They even had gluten-free food in the Thanksgiving meal that I could eat. Bill drove the course with me twice before the race.

My parents also drove 12 hours to watch me run the race! They are really dedicated. Manchester had a great pasta dinner the night before the race but I could not eat it due to my wheat/gluten allergy (Celiac Disease). My parents and I went to Outback after the pasta dinner. Outback has a Gluten Free menu. My pre-race meal was salad, steak and sweet potato. Yum!
Arriving at the Olympic Village, Begley—and others—found that the food preparation was not appropriate for a medical gluten-free diet.
The cafeteria seats 5,000. I can't eat there due to my wheat and gluten allergy (Celiac Disease). The village did get a lot of complaints about not having wheat and gluten free foods so they just added some yesterday. However, they do not prep it gluten free, so I still can't eat it. I have to eat at the USOC camp they have set up for us 20 minutes from the Village. I am not complaining though, I prefer safe food over convenience!
Food at the US training camp proved to be delectable as well as safe: "The food here is amazing - Thanks to Chef Adam Sacks! The food is so good we are all over eating."

Begley's participation in the Olympics (her event is scheduled for 10:45am ET on Friday) is the latest chapter in a story full of triumphs and setbacks. Sprinkled amidst her many wins have been a torn Achilles tendon, two stress fractures, a torn oblique muscle, bursitis, a broken ankle, dehydration problems, and a diagnosis of osteopenia, which is common among people who have lived with undiagnosed celiac disease. So are the anemia and "stomach problems" she experienced before getting her diagnosis.

Begley, 30, pursued her passion for running despite her physical and financial woes. She and her supportive friend and teammate Kara Goucher train with Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the New York Marathon.

Begley's dramatic surge qualifying for the Olympics was a crowd-thriller and a highlight of the pre-Olympic events. Here's wishing her more amazing food this week and a fantastic run on Friday!

And here's Begley after her qualifying run.


Monday, August 11, 2008

More Distilled Wisdom

In my previous post I touched on distilled vinegar and its lack of gluten, the point being that, contrary to myth, distilled vinegar is appropriate on a gluten-free diet, and that any problems one might have with the vast majority of vinegars would not be due to gluten. Rather than assume that a vinegar has gluten in it, it is reasonable to assume that there's a good chance that any vinegar that is not a malt vinegar is free of gluten, and it would not be a hopeless gesture to check ingredients and contact food producers to clear up any lingering doubts you might have about any vinegar you'd like to try.

Anyway, today I figured that I might as well go ahead and say the same thing about distilled alcohol—spirits such as plain gin, vodka, and whiskey. The distillation would eliminate any gluten that might be in the ingredients of those hard liquors.

Gluten-Free Living states, "Distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten free because distillation effectively removes gluten from wheat. They are not gluten free if gluten-containing ingredients are added after distillation, but this rarely, if ever, happens."

And Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic states, "The distilling process eliminates the gliadin fragment from spirits made from wheat, rye, and barley (e.g. bourbon, vodka, scotch). If spirits contain flavoring that is added in after the alcohol is distilled, it is not necessarily safe." (Gliadin is a fraction of gluten that is toxic for people with celiac disease.)

So, if such spirits make you sick, it's extraordinarily unlikely that the problem would be due to gluten or the smaller gliadin in the booze. Many people with celiac disease do drink hard liquor safely (and, of course, always in moderation). Perhaps your intestines are insufficiently healed from eating gluten elsewhere. Or perhaps there is a co-existing condition. Both scenarios are far more likely.

For instance, consider this, from the National Institute of Health: "There are no known foods that cause Crohn’s disease. However, when people are suffering a flare in disease, foods such as bulky grains, hot spices, alcohol, and milk products may increase diarrhea and cramping." Some people do have Crohn's disease as well as celiac disease.

And also remember that hard liquor, like vinegar, is a "strong" substance. Many people do react poorly to it—especially in large quantities. I don't use the stuff to clear drains, but just look at this list and this list of uses for vodka! Some of them have to be for real, right?

Source (00:28)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Makeover for Gluten-Free Living

Magazine Famous for Debunking Myths about Vinegar, Other Foods

Congrats to Ann Whelan, Amy Ratner, Kendall Egan, and the rest of the Gluten-Free Living team on revamping their Westchester-based magazine's website. It's now got a more professional look (and an affiliated blog) while still offering reliable, well-researched information about gluten-free basics.

The website covers ingredients from amaranth ("Amaranth comes from an herb. Gluten free and high in nutritional value, it is puffed for cereal or ground into flour") to xanthan gum ("An ingredient used to give stretch to gluten-free baked goods in place of gluten. It is made by fermentation of glucose by xanthomonas campestris bacterium, from which it gets its name").

The magazine has a reputation for researching and debunking unsupported claims related to the gluten-free diet. So the ingredients page says this about vinegar: "Distilled vinegar is gluten free and has always been gluten free. There is no evidence that suggests vinegar might be dangerous for those who follow the gluten-free diet. The only vinegar to avoid is malt vinegar, which is made from barley and is not distilled."

Now, you might be among those who have a problem with distilled vinegar. No one is saying that you don't have a problem with it. However, the conventional, researched wisdom is that the problem isn't caused by gluten.

So if you feel that you have a problem with distilled vinegar that, unlike malt vinegar, is gluten-free, it is impossible (extraordinarily unlikely) that the problem is gluten, something that could accurately be called a "gluten reaction." Many people with celiac disease enjoy distilled vinegar without testing positive or feeling ill, so it might be that your particular system simply has trouble with distilled vinegar as well as gluten. You can still bring the problem to the attention of your doctor and feel free to keep vinegar out of your diet. There's no shame in that.

Vinegar is, after all, widely acknowledged as a strong, acidic substance. I myself have been known to clean drains with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda—an explosive combination!

Source (1:41)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

In Praise of Breastfeeding

Dr. Melissa Bartick—a friend of mine who also happens to be a breastfeeding advocate—recently had an article, "Let's Get Serious About Promoting Breastfeeding," published in The Huffington Post. She mentions The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as outlined by the UNICEF/WHO Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States.

I'm not an expert on the subject, but I'm amazed that breastfeeding would even need advocacy. If anything, I'd think that formula feeding would "need" it. And I suppose the formula feeding does get some very effective advocacy from marketers who stand to make profits from pushing formula on people who don't really need to use it. The preponderance of evidence suggests that, in many cases, breastfeeding is healthier for children as well as economically and environmentally advisable.

Anyway, with today being the end of World Breastfeeding Week, I figure this is a good time to return to the subject as it relates to celiac disease. As Nancy Lapid points out, the current wisdom is that breastfeeding with a slow introduction to gluten between the fourth and sixth months can significantly reduce or postpone the emergence of celiac disease among infants. As I've mentioned previously, Swedish findings on this subject were dramatic, appearing to eliminate a very large number of infant cases—though not all of them. (Note that the recommendation is different than the "exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months" practice suggested by some breastfeeding advocates. This discrepancy needs to be addressed!)

Breastfeeding isn't easy for all women, but coaches can address many problems women face regarding breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding advocates argue that public policy support of breastfeeding as a form of preventative care can save money in the long run by protecting children from health problems. A similar "economic" case can be made for public policy that supports at least stalling celiac disease through strategically timed breastfeeding. And a similar case can be made for getting more people screened and properly advised regarding celiac disease. In other words: Enabling people on gluten-free and other medical diets to receive insurance coverage for visits to dietitians and nutritionists should save money in the long run, and encourage professionals to become better informed.

Here's a simple, silent tribute to breastfeeding from Burlington, Vermont.

Source (5:51)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Meanwhile, in Mississippi

Here's a television appearance from Elizabeth Smith, founder and president of the Gulf Coast Celiac Foundation. Elizabeth, also the owner of Celiac Health Management, talks with the WLOX anchors about how celiac disease is often misdiagnosed. She advises that people diagnosed with conditions such as IBS, but who do not improve with medical treatment, should inquire as to whether they might also have celiac disease.

And there's an NYC connection, too: Even though the Gulf Coast Celiac Foundation is far from the Big Apple, its website includes a number of papers by Dr. Peter Green of the Celiac Disease Center of Columbia University (CDCCU).

Source (3:35)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bill Clinton "Gets" the Gluten-Free Boom

Former president Bill Clinton, husband of New York Senator Hillary Clinton, noted this weekend that Rwandan cassava flour "has 'enormous potential' as an export to Western nations since it is gluten-free," according to this item from Good Morning America.

I wouldn't want to argue with that, as I'm a big fan of gluten-free high-fiber crackers made from cassava—and they've been pretty scarce around here lately. I miss them!

The Clinton Foundation helps Rwandan farmers grow cassava.
So, in case you had any doubts, you can certainly count Bill Clinton along with Nita Lowey and Kemp Hannon as area politicians who are gluten-conscious.

Friday, August 01, 2008

There Ought to Be a Law

A Republican state senator from Long Island thinks that mandatory screening of children for celiac disease sounds like a good idea.

According to The Garden City News, Senator Kemp Hannon recently recognized student John D'Argenzio as a winner in his 2008 "There Ought To Be A Law" contest, which honors student-conceived ideas for New York State legislation.

John's suggestion: "It should be mandatory for children at the age of six to get blood tests. Doctors need to screen for Celiac disease. 1 in 133 people have this disease or some wheat or gluten sensitivity. People in our country are misdiagnosed or never diagnosed."

Congratulations to John! I agree that mandatory screening seems like a good idea, but I believe it led to some problems in Italy before being discontinued. If mandatory screening turns out to be out of the question, certainly a state-supported effort to inform the public and increase voluntary screening is something that Senator Hannon and his colleagues should seriously consider. The savings associated with early diagnoses of celiac disease should also be of great interest during the current budgetary crisis.