Category Archives: Gluten Intolerance

New food labeling law omits gluten

A new food labeling is going into effect, but they forgot one little thing:

Plain language labels now required for eight top allergens

Of note is that the new law does not specifically address gluten, only wheat. Gluten describes a group of proteins found in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It is of concern because people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. An estimated one in every 133 people in the U.S. currently has celiac disease, and there is some concern that the numbers are rising. The new law does requires the FDA to issue a proposed rule that would allow voluntary use of the term “gluten free” by August 2006 and to have a final rule on “gluten free” in place by August 2008.

Well at least there’s something in the works.

Reading the list of ingredients is not enough. Many products are made in facilities that have wheat flour dust flying all around, process foods in the same containers as wheat-based products, and dust conveyor belts with wheat four to keep things from sticking, without any obligation to list wheat as an ingredient. For people with food allergies, grocery shopping can be a friggin’ nightmare.

Beer Allergy

Turns out it’s true – I can no longer drink beer. I drank my last pint of pale ale Monday night. This is a Greek fuckin’ tragedy.

I’m allergic, apparently, to anything that contains gluten. Gluten is the substance that gives wheat it’s elasticity, and it’s also present in rye and barley. Bread is out. Muffins, cake, cereal, tortillas, and so on, all things of the past.

Most beers and ales are brewed using malted barley, so that sucks. Pale ales were my favorite beverage. However, wine is still in, as are most other alcoholic beverages, sodas, and drinks of any sort. I was experiencing a reaction to lactose (milk, dairy) as well, but they say that this will sort itself out after a few weeks of avoiding gluten-based foods. With that in mind, Peet’s Coffee makes the best soy cappuccinos.

I have seen some emerging gluten-free ales out there, bless the Australians and the British, but not much going on here in the USA yet. It is going to be at least a little while before gluten-free ales are going to be widely available here, but with 1 in 133 or so Americans with this condition it won’t take forever before someone figures out there’s a market for gluten-free beer around here.

It is amazing how much better I’m feeling even after just a short period of avoiding gluten foods. Even a trace amount will do intestinal damage and make me feel like crap, so it’s been difficult to get things sorted out. I took one bite of a chocolate chip cookie yesterday without thinking, and it did me in.

The weird thing is, it’s only started bothering me the past few months. I must be getting old or something, because I’ve been eating wheat-based everything every single day of my life.

So I’ll probably blog about gluten-free recipes from time to time. This kind of sucks, but at least it gives me something new to write about…