Celiac Safe VS Gluten Free

Lowes Foods in Brier Creek, labels gluten free and organic clearly.
It has been nearly a year and I'm anticipating the return of the GFAF Wellness event that comes to Raleigh each year.  Last year there was an unavoidable argument around the inclusion of  a few non-celiac safe options.  This year they've rebranded and there's a new website called Living Free Expo that has kept the same schedule, more or less. I'm very hopeful about the change. I recommend you consider going to the event if you can. Supporting local efforts to make the gluten free life easier is important.Those who are new to the GF community are advised to always use caution, just as you would in a new supermarket or restaurant, when evaluating claims of suitability for your dietary needs.

The first event of the season will be later this month in Charlotte, NC.  I've already identified a new business that I'm pleased to add to my resources page:  The Southern Olive just on the other side of the NC/SC border, south of Charlotte.  If you 're nearby, check it out.  I've reached out to the owner and her business is fully gluten free, including the fun classes. I wish I were well enough to drive down and participate regularly!  I'll plan to make the effort sometime this year, though.

Speaking of classes, the Chapel Hill area Pizzelle Bakery which is also fully GF started a YouTube channel you might want to see called Make It Bake It.  Such a wonderful start for what I hope will grow into a beloved local hangout for Celiacs, their families and friends. I've started a Local Stars list on my sidebar and I hope to include more (local) Celiac safe YouTube channels, so if you have one, email me the details. 

'Celiac Safe'

With the popularity of the gluten free diet, and the difficulty of gaining an endoscopy proven Celiac diagnosis, it's important to remind everyone that gluten free is not always the same as something that's safe for people with Celiac Disease.  As a local restaurant owner pointed out, there's no government directed regulation of gluten free claims in a restaurant.  There are some voluntary certifications a restaurant may seek, but it is obviously an added expense.  So it is often a problem for people who rely on gluten free food when they are faced with so many "gluten free choices" that aren't safe for them, due to cross contamination risk.

A blogger I follow recently discussed this issue in some detail.

When It’s Healthy For Me to Be “Rude” Because of My Celiac Disease

 And I wanted to reblog my comment about it because this issue of unsafe "gluten free" food, especially in restaurants, is not a small matter.  I will be the first to jump up and cheer for any business that does gluten free right.  But it's important to remember that there are groups out there that would put their profits above your health and it pays to be conservative in who you trust.

My comment, was in response to her question, "What’s one “rude” thing you do that’s actually a healthy way of coping with Celiac disease or another chronic illness? Tell me in the comments! "  And I encourage you to both read her blog and reply to this vital question in the Celiac community.

I'll be honest, I've been having difficulty with one of the events organized locally for people with Celiac Disease. I was horrendously glutened by something a vendor was selling there. And when I complained to the organizer that the gluten labeling was, first of all lacking, and second, on their website, it was showing that they don't understand... she basically shrugged.

Later, when I talked about it in a Facebook group for local Celiacs, she claimed that she felt perfectly fine with feeding any food in the events to her daughter. Her daughter even came there to stick up for her. I had talked about it because she had invited a local restaurant that is likely to have cross contamination and not be Celiac safe. It was a pretty ugly situation. So I was probably preceived as "rude" but I can't risk my health for it.

I"m disappointed that the "old guard" in my area (North Carolina), those who have been Celiac for decades before the current trend... they seem to be perfectly fine with CC potential in restaurants.

One support group even went to a pizzeria that offers both GF and not GF pizza. That's notorious for CC partly because flour stays in the air for a debated amount of time, probably 24 hours. The owner of that pizza shop also got into the facebook argument and claimed basically that the risk to Celiacs was just tough luck because he couldn't afford to train people and restaurants aren't regulated.

The entire event made me sick to my soul. I think that Celiac.com (as opposed to Celiac.org) has shown us that not everyone in the Celiac community is our friend. And locally I've experienced that and I'm not mad about it as much as I'm utterly heartbroken.

I think it may be a "long time" Celiac vs a newly diagnosed Celiac issue. If you were diagnosed after 2014 (the publishing of the FDA final rule on gluten free labeling), then you're less likely to feel the need to compromise all the time. And I respect that people who've been Celiac a long time did have to struggle a lot more than I have to, to provide healthy food for themselves. But I think the time is now for more respectful assertiveness about Celiac safe food.

Stay safe out there!

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