Here’s our press release from today. Look out Grammys, here we come!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GRAMMY STARS READY TO TAKE A BITE OF NONUTTIN’
DUNCAN, BC – What snacks would you feed hungry music stars at the Grammy Awards this Sunday? Organizers of the dressing room snacks were asking themselves this question while trying to juggle all of the special dietary needs that many artists require. To solve this dietary challenge, they gave Vancouver Island’s own Nonuttin’ Natural Foods a call.
“With artists from Sir Paul McCartney who is vegetarian to Lady Gaga who eats a gluten free diet, it’s not easy to provide food to the world’s greatest music stars. That’s where Nonuttin’ granola bars and trail mixes came to the rescue,” says Alana Elliott, President and Founder of Nonuttin’ Natural Foods. All Nonuttin’ products are free of 9 of the top 10 food allergens and are certified gluten free in the US.
Elliott sent over 500 granola bars and trail mix packs to the Staples Center in Los Angeles where Sunday’s Grammy Award Show will take place. With 50 dressing rooms and a green room, Nonuttin’ products will be available in all of the rooms whether they hold a single artist or a band and their entourage.
“My two daughters are the ones who are most impressed with our involvement in the Grammys,” laughs Elliott. “They thought their mom wasn’t up to date on the latest music trends. Now they can’t wait to see if their favourite artists, like Adele, will be enjoying our snacks.”
My husband and I watched a fascinating documentary on David Suzuki’s, The Nature of Things on CBC this weekend. It was about the latest in autism research that shows that gut health may be the link. Some parents are already putting this into action with gluten/dairy free diets for their autistic children.
This documentary also brings up illnesses in infants and the onset of autism with anecdotal information from different parents of autistic children. It is especially poignant for those whose children were developing normally and then autism took over.
Rob has always felt that our youngest daughter’s life-threatening food allergies were created by an unknown illness just before she turned 1 when she was in Pediatric Intensive Care in the Isolation Wing and she was dosed with massive amounts of antiobiotics. Her food allergic reactions showed up shortly after that. Watching this documentary just gave him even stronger feelings that he is correct.
Here is the link to watch the documentary online at CBC:
If you’ve been following our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nonuttin-Natural-Foods/159162014110203, you’ll see that I’m heading off next week to a trade show for a Canadian natural foods chain.
After the trade show, I get all of the owners and managers of those stores for an hour and a half to provide them with an overview of food allergies and gluten free diets, what the needs are for consumers and what they need to do to earn the confidence of those of us looking for special dietary foods.
I certainly know what gains my trust in a store. And putting the peanut butter alternative (ie. soybutter, sunbutter) smack dab in the middle of all of the peanut butter isn’t it. I don’t really expect any service or knowledge about food allergies when I go to a mass chain grocery store (even if they have a natural or gluten free section) but I certainly do when I go to a smaller natural foods store or health food store. But any major grocery chain that did come up with a better understanding of special diets, such as putting a dietician in their natural foods section, (as one of our clients in the Midwest, Hy-Vee does) would have my business in a heartbeat. And please, clean up the bulk sections so that potential allergens aren’t spilled all over the floor!
So what do you need? Special sections? Items placed throughout the store but with good signage? Special dietary tours with samples and coupons so you aren’t stuck in your same old rut? Would you prefer a trained specialist in the store? Do you appreciate contained bulk bins? Do you want the store to have product documentation on special diet products? How about demos – do you run from them when they’re in an aisle?
Anything that you share with me will be added to my presentation next week (without names of course) so that these store owners/managers can hear from the people that count. Food allergies and gluten free diets are here to stay; let’s begin the revolution with willing stores who want to serve you better.
We just finished participating in the first ever sample kit that went out through a new service called Gfree Connect. The whole idea of this service is to make it really simple for you to get samples and coupons for a wide variety of gluten free products all delivered right to your door.
What I liked about it when the idea was presented to me is that it allows gluten free consumers to try products like ours that they don’t necessarily see in every grocery store. Sure, you’ve got your larger gluten free brands that are well known and easily available but you can also get regional samples that you can still get on the internet, even if they’re not available in your area. Plus, even with the bigger companies, they may be bringing out something new for you to try that you aren’t even aware of since your store may stock limited products.
And the pricing is really reasonable too from my perspective. The amount of time and effort you’d have to spend either cruising the internet or your local natural foods/grocery stores is worth the cost that they charge. I expect that this company will grow as more people get word and more companies choose to participate. At the recent Chicago Gluten Free and Allergy Expo, Gfree Connect had a table and they got a lot of interest and many people signing up.
Once the company grows, they may also be able to accommodate other sensitivites and food allergies as well so if you’ve got multiple food issues, keep an eye on them as they mature and refine their business. Check out their website at: http://gfreeconnect.com/
On Monday I had my re-audit of my products and facility by my gluten free certifier, the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO). A re-audit is basically a follow up review after already having the initial application and inspection when we originally applied for Gluten Free Certification last year. Of course, in between we have to provide reports on our testing procedures and report new products, ingredients, etc. But yesterday’s visit was about going over our facility with a fine-tooth comb to ensure we’re doing everything right for continued certification.
So what does GF certification mean when you see it on a food product? For GFCO, it means that all Nonuttin products must be testable below 10 parts per million (ppm) and that we follow strict procedures for sourcing our ingredients and packaging materials, testing those ingredients and processing our products along with all of the record keeping that must be accurately maintained. GFCO also inspects all of their facilities.
Because our facility is dedicated to only Nonuttin’ recipes, we are audited with a different checklist. A company that has gluten in the facility plus produces gluten free products will have an additional checklist to go through. GFCO may require test swabs of surfaces to ensure no cross contamination between lines as an example and the company would be expected to keep gluten free ingredients segregated from gluten containing ingredients. Some people are not comfortable with gluten in the same facility and may check with a manufacturer to see whether they have a dedicated facility, even if they see a GF symbol.
The Celiac Sprue Association does have a logo on some products but it is not a certification process including facility inspections but a recognition seal that declares those companies have agreed to follow the criteria set by the association.
The Canadian Celiac Association has begun moving in the direction of GFCO with a certifying program as well but the program is not yet firmly entrenched.
As with all certifications however, companies must still meet the labelling regulations of the country they live in. In our case, Health Canada is still reviewing the gluten free labelling laws for the inclusion of oats. They have been doing so since last May when they published an intent document to change the gluten free labelling to allow for the possibility of pure oats. In the meantime, our US products all have the GFCO logo on them whereas the Canadian products have it only on those items without oats. Our oats products (all granolas and granola bars) indicate a wheat/barley/rye free logo instead.
For more information, check out these links:
Health Canada Oats Labelling Intent: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/consult/gluten2010/draft-ebauche-eng.php
Celiac Sprue Recognition Seal: http://www.csaceliacs.org/CSASealofRecognition.php
Canadian Celiac Association Certification Program: http://www.celiac.ca/certification.php
I don’t want this blog to be a rant on other companies, truly. But I continue to see practices that you all need to be aware of out there while I’ve been traveling to various trade shows over the last month or so.
For example, at the biggest trade show, Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, “gluten free” was everywhere on booths and products. The funniest one was on chicken, yes, chicken. I realize that some chicken has seasoning added and so ingredients still must be looked at. But the kicker on the chicken is that they were frying it up in the booth for tasting, after dredging it in wheat flour!
I saw the same thing happen on a gluten free spread that was being offered on regular wheat bagels to sample. It wasn’t until a Celiac pointed it out to them that they realized that there was a problem with this practice. It’s kind of scary since they were attracting many of the attendees who were Celiac, not just because they were there as store buyers.
In some cases, when the person demoing a product is hired for the day, they don’t always know the ins and outs of special diets but in both of the above companies, the owner of the company was doing the demoing.
And that’s in addition to continued products I see that have a claim like “nut free” on the front with a disclaimer “made in a facility that processes tree nuts” on the back. To me, you can have one or the other, not both.
So for you, the consumer, all I can say is really check your items. Check your ingredients even if there is a “free from” message on the front, don’t assume that demos are safe, and contact companies if you have any questions. This really is a buyer beware situation where you have to take control.
When I speak to our American clients, I often hear how impressed they are with Canadian labelling. They have the erroneous impression that our laws are superior to their own. They’re wrong and we may be finding out just how much by the end of 2010.
American lawmakers passed FALCPA (Food Allergen Labelling Consumer Protection Act) in 2004 and it became mandatory in 2008. Health Canada started its process for new labelling laws a decade ago and they still haven’t been completed. In fact, an urgent letter for support from many of Canada’s allergy and Celiac support groups went out today that indicates if the proposed laws do not pass by the end of 2010, they will expire!
I realize that Health Canada is trying to be careful to address many health concerns and is listening to many stakeholders. I’ve participated in the consultation process both personally and representing Nonuttin’ Foods. But can you imagine a business or household that ran this way? Read more »
When I go to business trade shows, I often end up meeting many other food manufacturers, especially if I’m displaying in a booth with my sales broker. Since we are together for a couple of days, we get to know all about each other’s products and often go home with samples in our suitcases. This is how I found one of of my favorite gluten free items, GoGo Quinoa spaghetti.
Read more »
So You’ve Been Diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance…
It’s not easy being gluten free, at least to start. Like anything, you will soon become used to your new buying habits and menus and your gluten free life will become what you consider normal.
But when you’ve first been diagnosed, it can be really disheartening to go to the store and discover that a lot of what you used to buy is now off limits. You may even find yourself mourning an old favorite which could be anything from pizza to perogies.
I recently contributed to an article about baking on a gluten free diet which was compiled with other contributors. Unfortunately, some of the suggestions are only in the US, such as Betty Crocker mixes, but this is a really handy article either if you need someplace to start or someplace to find new inspiration. http://thestir.cafemom.com/food_party/110610/best_glutenfree_baking_essentials_the
I got to try the Gluten Free Bisquick in May at the Celiac Disease Foundation conference in Los Angeles where I had pancakes made with the new product and it was really very good (especially with syrup!).
If you’ve tried any of the products mentioned, or can suggest any of your own (and perhaps where you can find them), please do!
If you are Celiac and feel like you don’t sleep well and feel rested, it’s not in your head. A recent study shows that Celiacs, whether following a gluten free diet or not, Celiacs suffer more than others with sleep disorders. Check out the link: http://www.celiac.com/articles/22292/1/Gluten-free-or-Not-Celiacs-Suffer-More-Sleep-Disorders/Page1.html