Monday, December 31, 2007

Horizon Organic Products Are Gluten Free According to the Company But Inquiry Demonstrates Some Important Principles for Those on a Gluten Free Diet

Below is an email response to an inquiry my wife made to Horizon Organic about the presence of any gluten in their products. Since she has severe Celiac disease associated with the skin problem Dermatitis Herpetiformis she is extremely sensitive to even minute amounts of gluten that may be hidden in foods or be encountered as the result of cross contamination.

The email response illustrates a couple of important problems or challenges those of us trying to follow a gluten free diet encounter. First, gluten like grain proteins are found in barley and rye, not just wheat. Wheat is required to be disclosed on foods but barley, rye and gluten are not. Second, there is not yet a U.S. recognized and accepted definition of "gluten-free". The FDA is working on this issue but there is a political battle ongoing about what will be accepted as a "gluten-free" standard as some in the food industry are advocating an "acceptable level" of gluten set an certain parts per million allowed. Unfortunately, some Celiac disease experts appear to accept and advocate such an approach. Below is the company response to illustrate some of these principles.

"Thank you for your recent e-mail to Horizon Organic. We appreciate your interest in our products.

Currently, gluten is not considered one of the Big 8 allergenic foods (milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs, fish, shellfish and soy) and the Food & Drug Administration does not provide gluten-free labeling guidelines. However, our products do not contain wheat, barley, oats, rye, or malt, which are considered sources of gluten proteins. To the best of our knowledge, our products are free of gluten.

As with any food product, the best source for nutrient and ingredient information is the package's Nutrition Facts label. In addition, the Food Allergen Network,, is an excellent resource for information related to this topic.

We hope this information is helpful.

Priscilla Chotrani
Consumer Response Representative"

When trying to follow a gluten free diet remember the principle "caveat empor" always applies. That is "let the buyer beware". Always apply due diligence in checking any food item, restaurant, or meal for possible gluten or risk of gluten cross contamination. Then make your own decision based on your personal situation. You cannot assume any food that is processed is completely free of gluten unless it is tested specifically. Unfortunately, inexpensive commercially available tests for the presence of gluten are not readily available.

Copyright © 2008, The Food Doc, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Scot Michael Lewey
“Dr. Celiac, the food doc”
1699 Medical Center Point
Colorado Springs CO 80907

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