Quinoa and Possible Barley Contamination
The Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC) recently posted an alert on their website concerning quinoa and its suitability for Passover http://www.crcweb.org/alerts.php. This alert has implications beyond the Jewish community to include those with celiac disease. I had the pleasure of speaking with a Rabbi from the CRC to confirm this information.
For the past several years quinoa in general was considered suitable for Passover*. This is no longer the case. After thoroughly investigating the issue, several concerns have been raised by the CRC. Quinoa is sometimes grown in close proximity to barley. Quinoa may be covered with barley while being dried. Quinoa may be transported in sacks previously used to transport barley. As a result, only quinoa which can be sourced to a farm without these concerns is considered suitable for Passover. The CRC’s website includes Andean Naturals and Ancient Harvest as sources of approved quinoa.
For individuals with celiac disease, it is important to note that just because quinoa is grown in close proximity to barley or covered with barley during the drying process does not necessarily mean it is contaminated. When quinoa is processed the outer covering is removed and most quinoa is washed to remove the very bitter saponin coating from the seed. Nonetheless, the possibility for contamination does confirm the importance of eating only those quinoa products that are labeled gluten-free and tested for gluten contamination using the standard sandwich R5 ELISA (remember if a product is tested using the omega-gliadin (Skerritt) ELISA barley contamination will NOT be detected).
To be on the safe side, Gluten Free Watchdog will be testing labeled gluten-free quinoa flakes, quinoa flour, and quinoa grain in the very near future.
It also is important to point out that just because quinoa is labeled gluten-free does NOT mean it is suitable for Passover.
*For those of you unfamiliar with Jewish dietary law, during Passover leavened grains may not be eaten. Grains considered capable of leavening include wheat, spelt, barley, rye, and oats. There are strict rules regarding the use of these grains during Passover. Food containing these grains that may be eaten during Passover will state kosher for Passover on product packaging.
© 2012 by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted, reposted, or republished without the express written permission of Tricia Thompson