Barley malt in gluten-free foods; Gluten neutralized sourdough wheat bread. Where is the outrage among our national gluten-free support groups?

Barley malt in gluten-free foods; Gluten neutralized sourdough wheat bread. Where is the outrage among our national gluten-free support groups?

Warning: mini rant

My question to the national groups: Are you in the pocket of gluten-free food manufacturers?

If your answer is: “No” then I ask why you are not up in arms about these issues:

Barley malt in foods labeled gluten-free: Some manufacturers are labeling foods gluten-free yet including barley ingredients in these products. A running list of such products is maintained on Gluten Free Watchdog.

Sourdough wheat bread promoted as safe to the gluten-free community: Some artisanal bakers are promoting sourdough wheat bread as safe for people with gluten-related disorders. Gluten Free Watchdog tested two such breads and they tested off the charts. and

Mechanically and optically sorted oats: Many gluten-free manufacturers are using mechanically and optically sorted oats. Have you taken the time to understand this process? Do you know the differences in the sorting procedures and testing protocols used by various manufacturers?

Nothing is more important than safe food for people with gluten-related disorders. Please put their health and safety first.

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Comments (13)

  • Debi Smith Reply

    I don’t understand the lack of outrage either. It’s incomprehensible to me that we share these issues and what we see most often is “I ate it and I was fine” and tons of victim blame. Our food supply is at risk and it seems like most people, the support groups included, don’t give a ****. I feel like it’s because the big support groups and advocacy agencies (and even the magazines) keep pushing these products that the community doesn’t understand the issues and resists the education by the true advocates.

    I feel I don’t say it enough, Tricia. Thank you for continuing to look out for our safety and being a true advocate.

    April 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hugs to you, Debi. Knowing that you, along with Shirley and Johnna will spread the word about all of these issues helps to keep me going. Thank you.

      April 19, 2016 at 7:55 pm
  • Jen Reply

    It seems like after the FDA ruling some of the companies are getting a lot less careful. Is that just me? I’m guessing the FDA never really tests or tells company the day they are going to test.
    I’m wondering if companies even know what gluten is… most people know about wheat but not about barley, rye and oats.
    Since the FDA ruling, I’ve gotten sick from so many foods and there are times I can’t figure it out. I try to eat fruits, vegetables and meat now (although who knows how a store handles meat)… if I eat boxed stuff I go with companies I know are exclusively gluten free with a gluten free facility. Company names and their reputation means a lot to me! But, after the FDA ruling, I buy a lot less boxed foods. Our government is really clueless when it comes to food!

    April 19, 2016 at 9:30 pm
    • GF and more Reply

      I’d agree with you, Jen. It does seem to have gotten worse rather than better after the labeling regs. Frustrating, and sadly likely to get more so.
      I refuse to buy processed or boxed foods, especially with the new trend towards “extraction” of gluten and the lax testing practices. It’s whole fruits/veg for me, and limited beans and naturally GF flours from 100% dedicated GF companies that are doing GF honestly and transparently at all stages of the food supply.

      April 22, 2016 at 7:03 pm
  • April Reply

    Gluten free trend trumps medical needs.

    April 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm
  • Laura Reply

    Tricia, I’m chiming in to support you, because I’m guessing you’ll get alot of pushback for this post. I have two teenagers with celiac. I live in constant fear that they will be tempted to eat something labeled “gluten neutralized”, “gluten free but containing barley malt,” and the like. I teach them to look for a gluten free certification on their food, and I’m heartbroken to learn from you how often certified food is unsafe for them. I subscribe to Gluten Free Watchdog as one of the few small things I can do to try to keep their food safe for them and for all celiacs. Thank you!!

    April 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Thank you so much for the support, Laura! A virtual hug is flying your way.

      April 21, 2016 at 4:58 pm
  • Jean Reply

    I agree with you regarding your feelings about the national support groups. You would think they would be more outspoken about what some food manufacturers are labeling gluten free. It appears they don’t want to rock the boat and make anyone upset. I noticed on some of the support groups websites the sponsors listed are the manufacturers that are using optical sorting, inappropriate testing, etc. Makes you wonder.
    Thank goodness we have you!!!!

    April 21, 2016 at 9:09 pm
  • Laurie Steenwyk Reply

    Thank goodness for the work you are doing, Trisha. As a registered dietitian counseling many patients with celiac disease, I have been struggling with what to tell patients regarding oats now that optical/mechanical sorting seems to be the norm for most manufacturers of GF Oat products. There has not been much guidance from the national support organizations on this issue, as well as the other issues you mention. I’ve relied heavily on Gluten Free Watchdog to guide the advice I provide my clients. Thank you.

    April 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Laurie. It is especially great to know that the information available through GFWD is helpful to my colleagues. Thank you too for your long-time support of GFWD. Hopefully we will see each other this year at FNCE.

      April 22, 2016 at 1:42 pm
  • GF and more Reply

    I entirely agree, Tricia. I *am* outraged reading this, and the tendency of companies to play with labels like this is horrific. I hate how our food supply is becoming so engineered and processed so that it has become a search to find some scientific extraction mechanism for gluten rather than a focus on naturally safe, GF foods. As a celiac, my food does not need to be “fixed” and I don’t need a magic pill or laboratory concocted system to eat deliciously. What’s more, *I* don’t need to be be “fixed” – I just need truly safe food. These companies, and sadly, our dominant culture today, can’t provide that. Even third-party certifying organizations are getting duped by these practices with inappropriate testing, contradictory terms, and questionable claims.
    I’m grateful for GF Watchdog’s diligence in testing and reporting on these issues. It does seem to have gotten worse – not better – since the labeling regs. I’ve made a personal choice to eat only fresh unprocessed fruits/veg combined with beans, and certain GF flours from 100% dedicated GF companies that have transparent practices, testing mechanisms, and clear supply channels that are genuinely safe. I happily cook at home for each meal because that’s what it takes to stay safe from these outrages.

    April 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm
  • Sara Reply

    I only found out about this issue after eating ‘gluten-free’ Schar Croissants, made with ‘gluten-free’ wheat starch, and becoming very sick (thankfully just one exposure, so just for a few days). I have celiac disease, and either 20ppm is way too much for me, or there’s sometimes more than 20ppm in the de-glutened wheat starch!!

    I also can’t eat ‘gluten-free’ oats; the estimate I saw is that 10% of celiacs react to avenin, the gluten in oats, so even ‘gluten-free’ oats will make a lot of celiacs sick.

    It’s a right pain in the butt that we can’t trust a ‘gluten-free’ label to mean “safe for celiacs” any more. Thank you FDA, for sending us back to the dark ages, where celiacs have to read every label ultra-carefully, memorise every possible gluten source, and then pray/cross fingers we don’t miss a hidden source of, say, barley malt and get sick.

    Why, FDA?!?

    (And thank you, Tricia, for making this info available; your site was the only one that came up with a good answer, when I went to Dr Google to try to figure out if the expensive fancy mail-order-in-a-freezer-box croissants could’ve been the thing that made me so sick! Why aren’t the big celiac organisations saying anything?!? Why let celiacs get sick unnecessarily like this??? Is cheap ‘gluten-free’ for all more important than safe food for celiacs, to them?)

    July 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm

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