Gluten Part Of New Canadian Food Labeling Rules, Brewers Exempt

Here are some news from our dear neighbors to the North! After a decade of negotiations with allergy and celiac organizations including Anaphylaxis Canada and the Canadian Celiac Association, new Canadian food allergy labeling regulations were finally announced on February 14th.

Health CanadaThe new regulations are specifically aimed at strengthening Canada’s labeling of food allergens and gluten sources to allow Canadians with food allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease to make more informed choices about the foods they buy.

The new regulations will require additional labelling and strengthen the labelling requirements to require clearer language and the declaration of otherwise “hidden” allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites. Because of the complexity of the changes and the shelf-life of foods, industry has been given 18 months to implement the new allergen labeling regulations. The new regulations will become effective on August 4, 2012.

While this is a great success for the food allergy and gluten-free community in Canada and shows that persistence pays off, the new law excludes beer companies from the new labeling restrictions. Even an open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada could not prevent this exemption. The Brewers Association of Canada successfully raised concerns about the cost of making labeling changes, especially those whose labels are painted directly on the bottles, as opposed to paper labels. They argued that the label changes will force them to state the obvious – beer contains wheat and barley.

We at Custom Choice Cereal congratulate our Canadian friends on their success (despite the exemption)! So what do you think? Can something similar be reached here in the US? Will it take us another 10 years to get this far? When will the FDA’s proposed voluntary use of the term “gluten-free” from January 2007 become a law?

Celiac Disease Research News

We at Custom Choice Cereal are again amazed by how little is known about celiac disease and why exactly it is on the rise, as research by Dr. Alessio Fasano from the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research indicates. We also like to stress that unlike many other conditions, a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet is an (the only!) effective treatment for the autoimmune disease. While that sounds stressful and can initially be overwhelming we like to look at the bright side of things: absolutely no medication is needed!

Researchers from the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center used mice to identify a biochemical interaction that may trigger an autoimmune reaction in the intestines of genetically susceptible people. Specifically, they found that the compound retinoic acid in combination with high levels of the a pro-inflammatory substance known as interleukin-15 was able to break the body’s tolerance to gluten.
Mouse
Study author Dr. Bana Jabri and her colleagues examined the records of patients at University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, which showed that many of them had high levels of IL-15 in their intestines. Then they conducted experiments using a new mouse model of the disease developed in Jabri’s lab. When the researchers increased levels of IL-15 in mice, the animals developed all the early symptoms of celiac disease. Adding retinoic acid only worsened the disease. But when the researchers blocked IL-15 in the mice, their symptoms improved and they could tolerate gluten again.

Dr. Bana said that “This is the first time that we actually show how inducing a specific dysregulation in the intestines can lead to losing tolerance to a food antigen, and in particular to gluten.” She continued that this represents a key finding because they now know what to target for a re-introduction of tolerance to gluten.

Dr. Fasano added that he was really intrigued by the new discoveries about the role of retinoic acid, “which we’ve always thought helped to prevent the immune response rather than make it worse. It’s a most provocative finding.”

While these are promising and important research discoveries in the understanding of celiac disease, much more research is needed. It also needs to be noted that promising research done with animals often fails to produce beneficial results for humans.

Celiac Disease Explained

Great Day HoustonDespite running the risk that some of you might sigh “Not again!” I still have to share a video about celiac disease and following a gluten-free diet from Great Day Houston. At the end of the day, celiac disease is still heavily under-diagnosed and I therefore feel that it can’t be mentioned often enough!

The great Angel Burch of Gluten Free Life TV where she talks about her road to diagnosis. Despite the staged audience reactions – which I thought are pretty funny – this gives a comprehensive overview of celiac disease (yeah, it’s not an allergy), what’s available in the gluten-free market, food safety & reading labels as well as the omnipresent issue of cross-contamination, typical symptoms and how to get tested.

If you look closely at the right side of the screen you’ll even be able to catch a glimpse of a bag of your one and only Custom Choice Cereal – Organic Corn Flakes with Natural Almonds, Cranberries and a double serving of Organic Raisins (copy mix ID 9894fd into the re-order box to get this cereal)!

There are two ways to see all of our awesome gluten-free cereal: 1) roughly two thirds into the video the camera shifts and you’ll see our cereal in its entire beauty or 2) design your own perfect breakfast cereal and enjoy Your Gluten Freedom at home! I’m just saying – I know what I’d do… ;-)

http://www.khou.com/v/?i=115569239

P.S. Also watch the video Cut Out the Sodium for a bigger mentioning of Custom Choice Cereal right at the beginning!

10 Gluten-free Summer Camps 2011

Katie ChalmersEven though February just started I am sure that especially the parents among you are already thinking about the summer. If you have a child with celiac disease you might have ruled out Summer Camps for him or her in the past. No need to do so anymore as camps across the country have realized the need to serve the gluten-free community. Camp Kanata right here in North Carolina is just one of them, and we sponsored last year’s gluten-free week with our cereal – which the campers absolutely loved!

Fortunately for me, the one and only Katie Chalmers, mother to a daughter with celiac disease and author of the book “Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease”, has already done the work and compiled a list of 10 gluten-free summer camps in 2011. She has even be so nice to allow me to copy it here, so THANK YOU, Katie!

Please be aware that the camps fill up quickly and that you should act by the end of the month to reserve a spot for your child! Katie has been so nice to organize the camps chronologically. If both you and your child are interested in seeing a few different gluten-free camps and across the country over the summer, you can (at least in theory) attend 7 of the 10 camps this year :-)

Gluten-free Q&A with Dr. Stephen Wangen

Dr. Stephen WangenWe at Custom Choice Cereal are excited to offer you another opportunity to ask gluten-free expert Dr. Stephen Wangen your questions about celiac disease, gluten intolerance, living without wheat, and whatever else want to know!

Stephen suffers from celiac disease himself, understands the challenges of a gluten-free diet, and is very passionate about helping you. Similar to us, his passion was a call that he answered by co-founding The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, blogging as The Gluten Free Doctor, and serving on the Board of Trustees for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. We invite you to read more about Stephen and his books in our introduction to our advisors.

Dr. Wangen is going out of his way to provide this wonderful service, and we appreciate your understanding that out of respect for Dr. Wangen and his time we have to limit each session to 5 questions on a first-come, first-served basis. Please join us at Custom Choice Cereal in thanking Stephen for taking the time off his busy schedule to address your concerns.

Asking your question is easy and can be done in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Post your question as a comment to this blog entry
  2. Subscribe to our blog (or check back in a few days) so you’ll know when then answer is up
  3. We send all questions to Dr. Wangen
  4. Dr. Wangen’s answers will be published in reply to your comments

We are looking forward to finding out what you would like to know because it’s a great way for us to learn something new as well!

Gluten-free Expos in 2011

Custom Choice Cereal at the Gluten-free Expo
Since the beginning of the new year we at Custom Choice Cereal have received quite a few inquiries asking about upcoming gluten-free events. We can only highly recommend them, check out our blog from the Chicago Gluten-free Expo in 2010!

Fortunately, there are quite a few happenings lined up across the country where you (and we, for that matter) can learn more about the gluten-free world. It’s such a dynamic space that rarely a day passes without us learning something new! These events are provide a great opportunity to learn more about celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergy as the big support organizations are usually present. You can also connect with others in your area who share the gluten-free life with you.

But enough intro, we know you are anxious to learn about the upcoming expos and events, so here they are:

One last favor: we are sure to have missed a few gluten-free fairs in this list, so if you know of one, please let us know about it by adding it in the comment section. You’d do us and everyone else a huge service!

Gluten-free Subway sandwiches

Subway GF SandwichThese news caused quite an up-stir in the gluten-free community last week: international sandwich chain Subway is testing a bun made of egg whites, corn starch and tapioca starches for customers with gluten sensitivities at 700 outlets in Dallas and East Texas.

“Gluten-free is something on the radar,” said Les Winograd, Subway spokesman. “There are number of people at Subway who are particularly interested in gluten-free items for their own particular digestive needs. It’s not something that’s unusual to us.”

We at Custom Choice Cereal think it’s been about time that the major fast food chains jump to gluten-free action! However, it will take a lot of eduction on the franchisees’ end and tons of effort to prevent cross-contamination. Food safety is important for everyone but especially those with celiac disease and who have to follow a gluten-free diet. Thinking about the processes – cutting and toasting the 9-Grain Wheat, 9-Grain Honey Oat, Italian, Italian Herbs & Cheese or Flatbread – we’re wondering whether or not they are separating operations and using dedicated gluten-free equipment.

The key question is: would you try a gluten-free sandwich from Subway? Why or why not?

Sniffing out the gluten

Gluten-detection service dog EliasWe at Custom Choice Cereal came across one of the most amazing stories we heard in the gluten-free community in quite some time and have to share it with you. Knowing what can happen if a celiac gets “glutened” we are very diligent about our food safety controls (souring only naturally gluten-free ingredients, conducting additional testing for potential cross-contamination, maintaining a dedicated gluten-free facility, etc). Though not practical for us, here is another way to ensure your food is guaranteed gluten-free and safe to consume:

USA Today featured a story about Hollie Scott and her dog Elias, an award winning Beauceron. You see, Hollie has celiac disease, and even the slightest trace of gluten gets her ill for weeks. That’s why Elias has been trained as a – hold your breath – gluten-detection service dog! He accompanies here everywhere, even on the campus of the University of Missouri, where Hollie is a first-year student in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“When it’s time for him to do the sniff test for Scott, she places a cover with holes over the item, and Elias does his thing. She practices with him every day with known gluten-containing foods to augment the products she hopes are gluten-free so he doesn’t lose his edge. When there’s gluten, Elias tries to pull it away from her; if it’s safe, he simply looks away.”

This is the first time we’ve heard of this unique gluten detection mechanism. As the article points out, gluten is not only found in the obvious products containing wheat, rye or barley but is often used as a filler, binder or thickener, hidden in all manner of food, including, for example, soy sauce, many salad dressings and even some toothpaste”.

We wonder if we will hear more about dogs sniffing out the gluten for their owners. What are your thoughts – would you consider a gluten-detection service dog for yourself? And would you trust a dog to find those tiny traces of gluten that could get you sick?

Expert answers your gluten-free & celiac questions

Dr. Stephen WangenGood morning! It’s the first Wednesday of the month (and of 2011), and we at Custom Choice Cereal are super excited to offer you a very special service (in addition to delicious cereal with exactly the ingredients YOU love): gluten-free expert Dr. Stephen Wangen answers anything you want to know about living without gluten!

Stephen suffers from celiac disease himself, understands the challenges of a gluten-free diet, and is very passionate about providing help to people effected by digestive issues. As a result of this passion, he co-founded The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, blogs as The Gluten Free Doctor, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. We invite you to read more about Stephen and his books in our introduction to our advisors.

Since Dr. Wangen is going out of his way to provide this wonderful service, we’d like you to join us at Custom Choice Cereal in thanking Stephen. We appreciate your understanding that out of respect for Dr. Wangen and his time we have to limit each session to 5 questions on a first-come, first-served basis.

Asking your question is easy and can be done in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Post your question as a comment to this blog entry
  2. Subscribe to our blog (or check back in 2 days) so you’ll know when then answer is up
  3. We send all questions to Dr. Wangen
  4. Dr. Wangen’s answers will be published in reply to your comments

We are looking forward to finding out what you would like to know because it’s a great way for us to learn something new as well!

Gluten-free food on campus. How it CAN be done

Once again: Happy New Year to all of you! We hope all of you had a great start into 2011! We’re pretty excited about our plans for this year and think you will be as well. The first Monday of the 2011 has us back full speed at work, “cerealzing” your perfect gluten-free breakfast mixes.

UConnWe came across an article entitled “UConn’s Gluten-Free Food Program a National Model”. It describes how offering gluten-free food on campus can be done and we thought it’s worth sharing. The folks at UConn Dining Services deserve all the credit they can get because they realized that “eating a diet free of conventional bread, pasta and other wheat products can be challenging medically and socially for anyone”. While most of what they do can (and definitely should!) also be transferred to high school cafeterias, work cafeterias, and hospitals, to name just a few, there is indeed a “complicating fact of college life: gluten is found in two staple foods – pizza and beer”.

We are therefore truly impressed that UConn offers gluten-free selections in all the dining halls and provides prospective students with celiac disease or food allergies with personalized attention. That’s a form of customer service that pretty rare, and we at Custom Choice Cereal hope that in time more schools and universities follow this role model! What’s your experience at work or school? We would love to hear about more positive examples!

As a little inspiration we recommend watching the video with chef Robert Landolphi on how you can whip up some awesome gluten-free onion rings and biscuits. He mentions the importance of cross-contamination (that’s why we maintain a dedicated gluten-free facility) and advises to get the manager involved when going out to eat. He also says that – and we know that some of you will jump with joy – celiac disease is not an allergy but an autoimmune disorder :-)