Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Contacting Companies

The quickest way to find out if a product is truly gluten free is to phone the manufacturer. Many manufacturers provide informative answers over email as well, but it may take a while to hear from them, and some may not respond at all. Manufacturing procedures are subject to change at any time so it's ideal to contact the company every time you purchase the product. For this reason I don't recommend relying on forums or blogs for answers, though they do provide a great starting point. What may be safe one day may be cross contaminated the next. Always find out for yourself.

Following are some sample phrases you might use on the phone:

"I am calling to find out if one of your products contains gluten, or if it is processed on any of the same equipment that processes gluten."

"What procedures are in place to prevent cross-contamination?"

"Would it be possible for you to find out and phone me back?"

"Do you have a list available of all of the company's gluten free products?"

"What is your labelling policy when it comes to gluten?"

You have to decide what threshold you are comfortable with. We are very strict when it comes to cross-contamination, yet if a company is able to answer my questions in a confident and informative way, and assure me that they thoroughly clean and sterilize their equipment between runs, we give it the green light. Red flags are words like "think", "believe", "probably", and "unlikely". If a company tells me that they clean the lines between runs but that there may still be residue on the line, it's a no-go for us.

A sample email might go something like this (feel free to copy and paste):

Dear Company X,

I am writing to find out more details about potential allergens in one of the X products.

I recently found out that I have Celiac Disease and must adhere to a strict gluten free diet. Even trace amounts of gluten (wheat, rye, oats, or barley) can make me sick. I would like to find out if product X contains any gluten, or if there is any risk of gluten cross-contamination in the product.

In addition, if you happen to have a list of all of your gluten free items I would greatly appreciate if you would forward me a copy.

Any information you can provide would be very helpful.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

The process of finding out whether every pre-packaged food in your house is truly gluten free can be very time consuming and overwhelming. Prioritize. Check on the foods that are staples in your household. Contact one or two companies a day. To save time, be sure to ask about multiple items that you have from the same manufacturer.

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