EZ Gluten test strips are easy to use, at home test kits that detect the presence of Gluten in food or beverages. I've personally used some of these in the past to help determine the status of Great Specialty Products bread items. Of course, the tests I conducted on those products came back as High Positive. The application of these tests could really help folks determine what is safe and what is not safe if they are in doubt. In light of the fact that the FDA still has not made a ruling on what a Gluten Free label claim means, along with the lack of enforcement (it's up to each company), leaves us wide open to gluten filled foods to be incorrectly labeled Gluten Free. EZ Gluten tests are sensitive enough to detect down to 10 PPM. In the EZ Gluten Test, a food sample is ground to a fine consistency, added to the gluten extraction solution, and then mixed. A few drops of the sample extract are placed into a test tube. The EZ Gluten® test strip is placed into the test tube and allowed to absorb the sample extract. After 10 minutes, the test strip can be read visually for the presence of gluten in the sample. Click here for a brochure with some more details. Click here to see the product usage instructions.
The other common application of these tests is for food manufacturers. I've seen several local companies employ these tests to verify the ingredients they are being supplied as well as testing the final products before delivery. Companies that perform this kind of testing (due to the expense involved) should be treated differently than companies that don't in my opinion. Nothing in your Gluten Free life is 100% all the time, but this is a great step in the right direction if companies perform this kind of testing. If you are not sure if a company tests, you should ask them directly and refer them to this blog post if they are not aware of the EZ Gluten product.
So what's the downside you might ask? Well, obviously it's the price of this product. If you were to simply order 2 kits (smallest package for sale), you'd be set back $25 ($12.50 each). Did I mention that the kit can only be used once? The price per test gets a little better the more you order but even ordering a package of 10 will cost you $110 ($11 each), a package of 25 runs $262.50 ($10.50 each) and a package of 100 runs $950 ($9.50 each). I guess the real question is this - what price do you put on knowing your GF products are safe? A simple $10 - $12 test back in November when I first wrote about Great Specialty Products would have saved a lot of people (including me) time and trouble. I personally am still being affected with a DH rash (and who knows what other more hidden health problems) from the products I ate from GSP almost 4 months ago. I'd venture to say the $12 is worth it. I'd especially employ this test if the product had not formal packaging with an ingredient statement. I've also now incorporated these tests in a Product Testing Policy here at GFR.
On that note, I had the idea that maybe if we pulled our resources together and ordered a large number of these test kits, the cost for each of us would be minimized? I am planning on ordering some of these kits anyway but thought I would offer up the opportunity for you to jump in. So, if you are a GF consumer out there and want to test some of the products you eat regularly and might be worried about or if you are local company looking to begin a new Product Testing Policy of your own, please let me know via email or a comment on this blog post. I'll gather feedback on the order until the end of March and then will place my order. We can also establish some way to share the results with each other so that duplicate tests are not done - still thinking about this...we could really test a ton of products if we did this in a well organized fashion.
Click here to email me with your order.
So far I have emails from folks requesting a total of 45-65 test kits. Please keep your emails coming. If we get enough folks, we can really organize a mass testing of the Raleigh market - something I don't think has been done before anywhere in the US! Also, the current batch of kits expire in November 2010. If you want to order but would rather wait for a fresh batch of kits (they have expiration dates of 1 year when they are first manufacturered) please let me know.