Monday, November 24, 2008

A Good (Scary) Read

See below for the Chicago Tribune's investigation into Allergy Threat: Mislabeling, lax oversight threaten people with allergies. This makes me feel pretty sick. This should be a call to action for those of us unlucky enough to suffer from a food allergy. Why do the food companies and not the FDA decide when to do a recall? Why does the food company get to write the recall information press release which often times looks more like an advertisement than a safety recall? Sometimes the food companies never even issue a recall (about 50% of the time) even though the FDA knows about the issue and considers the products as "likely to cause serious harm or death". Why is there no standard for labeling your product "Gluten Free"?

What is going on with the FDA and USDA (click the links to contact them)?

Part one - "Children at risk in food roulette"

Part two - "A recipe for disaster: Whole Foods' handling of chocolate bar shows how warnings fail" (A warning about Whole Foods' "good manufacturing practices [were] used to segregate ingredients in a facility that also processes milk, wheat and soy ingredients." Label).

The Chicago Tribune has also created an Allergy Recall tracking database where you can search all allergy-related food recalls from the last 10 years by product, allergen, recalling firm, kind of food or by using multiple fields. The Tribune found that nearly 2,800 recalls have occurred in the last ten years (an average of 5 per week) due to hidden allergens.

ALSO - Wellshire Farms is a company featured in the first article. Here is their official response statement. It includes the words"Our Wellshire products are tested at a level of 200 ppm or less, which is equivalent to 99.98% gluten free." Most Gluten Free people I have spoken with aim for zero ppm while Europe and the new proposed FDA regulations suggest 20 ppm. Feel free in joining me in writing a letter to Louis B. Colameco, III President of Wellshire to share your concern.

Anybody else have an uneasy feeling in their stomachs?
What are you going to do about it?

UPDATE- See the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Web site for information about Allergy recalls. You can also sign up for email alerts.

UPDATE - See Enjoy Life's CEO response to the Tribune investigation - "Long Overdue"

5 comments:

John said...

Yes, that is not a happy article. It makes me kind of sick actually. Wellshire Farms is obviously off my list of products (although I don't know if I've seen any around the triangle). I will write to them, when I get time.

I don't know what we can do. Maybe if the new Obama admin. appoints some new blood to the FDA some real gf guidelines can be drafted and implemented since it seems we are still in a wild west situation when it comes to labeling.

This reminds me of the current controversies about "certified organic" which doesn't seem to be a 100% truthful statement 100% of the time, and thus, Americans are flocking to locally run farmer's markets in an effort to get to know who grows their food, so they can feel better about it, since the gov't sure isn't doing much to make anything safe or truthfully labeled, let alone testing for allergens supposedly not present in the foods we buy..

Fight the power.

GlutenFree said...

Wellshire's official response...

http://celiac-disease.com/wellshire-farms-responds-to-chicago-tribune-article/

Zach said...

American Celiac Disease Alliance response...

http://celiac-disease.com/american-celiac-disease-alliance-responds-to-chicago-tribune-story/

Zach said...

Glutino's response

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Glutino-Food-Group-President-Applauds/story.aspx?guid={EF0F008D-4BE9-4822-A0F0-339A969938F9}

Zach said...

Wellshire Farms has re-released their GF chicken bites... now tested for 20 PPM - http://thesavvyceliac.com/2009/03/12/wellshire-farms-gluten-free-nuggets-back-in-stores/

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