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
Did you know that this week is Food Allergy Awareness Week? Because of this, you may find that your inbox is inundated by information about the prevalence of food allergy, the latest in treating food allergies and more.
I like to think of this week as an opportunity to review how we handle food allergies in our family and to fight against getting complacent. I’ve found over the years that it can be easy to get complacent without realizing it, especially when you’ve been doing everything right and you haven’t had any emergencies.
So think of this as an annual reminder to review your approach to food allergies, just like we use the time change to upgrade our smoke detector batteries. Here are my 3 Rs for Food Allergies as follows:
REMIND your family and your child’s caregivers about the signs of anaphylaxis
REFRESH your skills and those caring for your allergic family member for using the epi-pen and;
RESOLVE to educate more people about the very real and growing threat of food allergies
Simple, right? It’s time to get started right now!
At 14, Megan is past the point of wearing allergy t-shirts and carrying her Nonuttin’ lunch kit that says, “Don’t feed me, I have a food allergy.” She does still have a medic alert bracelet though and that won’t change as she moves into adulthood.
So despite her advanced age, I certainly remember what it was like finding something that Megan would like and be comfortable with. So it was with delight that I found an allergy bracelet in Chicago on the weekend that I think she would have loved when she was in elementary school; the Allerbling bracelet.
It’s a 100% silicone bracelet with 5 openings to accommodate a medic alert symbol plus 4 separate spaces to put in your child’s major allergies. And since it’s customizable, you can choose from different symbols including the top 8 food allergens, strawberries, coconut, corn, chocolate and bees. Because it’s so bright, colorful and comfortable to wear (not to mention washable), I think it not only does the job quickly, but kids can also feel great wearing it and easily communicate their allergies.
Check out their website at: http://www.allerbling.com