It seems over the past 5 years or so, there has been a big boom in the gluten-free industry. From both the manufacturing side with many more products available and I’ve been hearing more and more about people trying out the gluten-free diet for reasons other than celiac disease or gluten intolerance. I am not discounting that many other ailments can be helped through the adaption of the gluten-free diet, but as I’ve spoken before — the popularity of this diet has contributed to some dangerous misinformation being spread around.
I have shared many posts before on my worries about the gluten-free diet being considered a fad. I’ve called out tv shows, and news agencies for spreading information that could be dangerous — especially to people newly diagnosed with celiac disease. That time when we’re learning what we can to be safe, to try to figure out which foods are out and which ones are still safe, we rely a lot on those respected sources for information we can trust.
The problem with the quick rise in the popularity of gluten-free is many media outlets are trying to cover this fad and the gluten-free recipes. There is no doubt it’s on the rise in popularity and with that, we’re seeing more and more about the diet, the reasons for going gluten-free and the benefits it can have.
Companies are trying to play catch-up, realizing that this is a hot topic for so many people who are adapting the gluten-free lifestyle for a multitude of reasons. They quickly pull together gluten-free recipes to give to their readers and while I think it’s great that mainstream outlets are now a source for great recipes, that seems to come with quite the price.
Quick research to get the articles and recipes out there leads to dangerous incorrect information. I’ve seen it happen on live TV. I’ve seen it on segments of United States television shows and over the past month, I’ve seen it happen on a popular website and in print on a popular Canadian magazine.
Gluten-free recipe round-ups
A popular website based out of the United States put together a gluten-free Easter recipe round-up for their readers. Most of the recipes linked to sister sites of the parent company and rounded up desserts that would be great to add to the Easter dinners. It is set up to allow inclusion in the Easter fun, especially for kids with allergies and highlights that these “20 amazing, delicious, and GLUTEN FREE Easter treats” will be enjoyed by the whole family.
I was excited to see this post — with so many recipes going to such a large audience. As I scrolled through the slideshow, I came across at least 2 recipes on there that called for obvious not-gluten-free ingredients. One called for Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal, which is not gluten-free (they do have a gluten-free version, but it’s not specified) and while I could let that one slide because there are gluten-free alternatives, another recipe was flat shocking.
It was a slide of 20 recipes that could have easily been cut down, but the author of the post decided to include Chocolate Peanut Butter Haystacks. The dessert looks amazing and delicious, but when I clicked over to the recipe, the third ingredient listed is “3 cups Shredded Wheat“. Yes, it says WHEAT right there in the recipe. In what could have been a great round-up with 15 or so recipes, it was all tainted by this inclusion when clearly it’s not at all gluten-free.
Gluten-free recipes in magazines
I subscribe to a few magazines and was happy when my May 2013 Canadian Living magazine came in the mail and was even happier when this issue included many gluten-free recipes. So many of the recipes looked great and then I came across a dessert recipe called “Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies” on page 194 of the magazine. I was confused because according to Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations – oats are NOT considered gluten-free and this was a Canadian Magazine.
Subsection B.01.010.1(1) of the regulation reads:
(a) any gluten protein from the grain of any of the following cereals or the grain of a hybridized strain created from at least one of the following cereals:
(iv) triticale, or
(v) wheat, kamut or spelt; or
(b) any modified gluten protein, including any gluten protein fraction, that is derived from the grain of any of the cereals referred to in subparagraphs (a)(i) to (v) or the grain of a hybridized strain referred to in paragraph (a). (gluten)
The recipe clearly calls for “gluten-free quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats” but the problem is — in Canada there is no such thing as “gluten-free oats” because they are not legally allowed to be labeled as such.
I tried to reach out to the magazine on Twitter to express my confusion with a Canadian magazine not abiding to the Canadian gluten-free labels when composing their recipes:
They seemed not to want to be called out via social media so I did send them my email hoping they would continue the discussion as they said, but no surprise here — I didn’t hear anything back. While this information would be correct in the United States, this is a Canadian published magazine for Canadian readers.
The popularity of the gluten-free diet has done wonderful things when it comes to the influx of great tasting, affordable gluten-free products. The drive for the market has brought with it some understanding of the medical needs for the diet and there has been a greater awareness for other health benefits of the diet. It has also brought with it, dangerous information from companies who either don’t do the proper research or don’t see the dangers of not doing so.
I would love for companies who want to share this valuable and important information to at the very least, make sure what they’re sharing won’t hurt or hinder those who need to be on the gluten-free diet — for whatever reason.
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