Gluten-Free Labeling Standards

Has anyone noticed the deluge of products with a “gluten-free” label in the grocery store? Recently we’ve seen such products as Kellogg’s Rice Crispies, Rice Chex, Luna Protein Bars, and Subway sandwiches (?) sporting the gluten-free label. While this may seem to be a blessing for those of us with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, it can actually make life more difficult.

There are currently no official standards regulating the term “gluten-free” on food packaging. In many European countries and Australia and New Zealand, “gluten-free” can only be used if a food has been tested and contains less than 20 ppm of gluten. In 2007, the FDA began a process to adopt these standards in the United States. But for the past four years, these has been no push to finalize the process.

Until now!

The FDA has reopened the comment period for gluten-free labeling standards. This (hopefully!) means that standards are right around the corner. Even more encouraging is the language from the FDA press release:

“We must take into account the need to protect individuals with celiac disease from adverse health consequences while ensuring that food manufacturers can meet the needs of consumers by producing a wide variety of gluten-free foods.”

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm265838.htm

There is a 60 day comment period which opened August 3. Let the FDA know how important these standards are for the health and safety of your clients, colleagues, family, and friends! The link above will take you to the official press release, and another link for leaving comments. Let’s make this happen!

Humane Society and Egg Producers Deal

We’re a little behind here on Two Food NeRDs. Tina is busy preparing to move from Seattle to San Francisco and start her dietetic internship (hooray!), and I am smack-dab in the middle of cherry harvest here in The Dalles. So, we’re going to play some catch-up.

I have been hearing a lot the past two weeks about the joint agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. Michele Simon at Food Safety News wrote a very informative article about the deal, found here:

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/07/who-really-benefits-from-the-egg-industry-deal/

The deal is, as far as I can tell, still only a verbal agreement. I think the desire to improve growing conditions for chickens is laudable, and necessary. But what will this agreement actually accomplish? The phase-in period for the new standards is very long. The proposed federal legislation would also be the toughest sanction allowed anywhere in the country. This means that any state, such as California, Oregon, and Washington which were attempting to/have passed stronger legislation could only impose the federal standards, nothing more.

I am suspicious of the motives of the United Egg Producers. They saw a grassroots movement toward better conditions taking place, and are trying to finagle the best deal possible. Any thoughts on this? Is it a good thing for industry and consumer protection groups to strike deals? Who wins and who loses? Will the result be better conditions for chickens and safer food for all of us?

New 2011 EWG Dirty Dozen List

Wondering which organic produce is worth purchasing? The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit group advocating for health-protective policies (www.ewg.org), publishes a “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce”. More commonly referred to as the “Dirty Dozen List”, the fruits and vegetables listed have the highest amounts of pesticide residue. Here are the top 12, also found at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

All of these items have a delicate surface area or particularly nasty predators, making harsh chemicals necessary to maintain the visual appeal required by most consumers. I was pleased to see that cherries are no longer on the list, as cherry harvest is finally in full swing here in The Dalles!

There is also a “Clean Fifteen List”, which ranks the fruits and vegetables with the lowest amounts of pesticide residue. This is also found at: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.

Do you purchase organic produce? Why or why not? If you do, do you follow any guidelines, personal or otherwise?

Welcome!

Welcome to Two Food NeRDs, a blog where two dietetic interns will be discussing the latest food and nutrition news!

As classmates in Seattle, we would attend food justice conferences together, discuss the latest updates in public health policy,  work on projects, drink tea, and of course, discuss the intricacies of the food system.

After graduating, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to do any of these things as easily, especially since we were both moving!  Even a couple weeks after graduation, we really missed having the opportunity to discuss current food news.

A bit about us: Michele will be doing her dietetic internship in Portland, OR, and Tina will be interning in San Francisco, CA.

We would love for this blog to be a place of lively civil discussion.  Additionally, we hope that this can be a place for you to wrestle with tough food issues.  We absolutely love feedback, whether through comments or email.

Have an idea for a blog post?  Read any interesting articles?  Want to contact us?
twofoodnerds@gmail.com
twitter: mshrumg
twitter: tinahayashi

Looking forward to discussing food news!
Michele and Tina


Views expressed on this blog are our own, and not necessarily representative of our dietetic internship programs and other affiliations.