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What the GFCP Means For You
It has been 20 years since I was diagnosed with celiac disease and I still have questions when I read food labels. More products are now labeled “gluten-free” than ever before. This is a great step forward because it means manufacturers are recognizing the demand for gluten-free food, but does that mean the food is safe for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’) to eat?
At the time of this writing, there are no federal regulations for gluten-free labeling. A lot of people think the government regulates all gluten-free labels, but in reality the FDA has yet to finalize its definition of gluten-free. Until that happens, it’s up to each manufacturer to decide which products to label as “gluten-free.”
In most cases, products that are labeled “gluten-free” will indeed be safe. But, it’s hard to shake that sense of “What If?” That’s why we encourage you as consumers to call manufacturers and ask about their gluten-free practices. That’s also why we’ve partnered with the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) to bring their robust gluten-free food safety standards to the US. The GFCP was developed by the Canadian Celiac Association to help gluten-free shoppers safely and comfortably navigate the grocery store. With this new partnership, US consumers like all of us will benefit from the expert oversight and guidance that has gained such approval among our friends up north.
So what does it all mean? In a few months, you’ll start to see NFCA’s certification trademark (pictured on the right) on gluten-free products. This mark will indicate that the product has been approved by the GFCP, which means that the manufacturer meets stringent standards for gluten-free safety, including an audit that inspects every step of the process, from verifying ingredients to preventing cross-contamination to testing the final product.
Manufacturers have already signed up to be a part of the certification program and, once their products pass all the requirements, they’ll be receiving access to the gluten-free label. We’ll let you know when you can start looking for the new labels in your local stores. I am incredibly excited about the launch of this new partnership because it means that NFCA can help you stay gluten-free with less worry and more confidence that the food you are eating is safe. That’s all part of our mission – to improve the quality of life for people on a lifelong gluten-free diet.
As we continue our work to improve gluten-free safety, we will also be creating new consumer education resources to help you feel more confident about reading labels and choosing gluten-free foods. If you have a suggestion for a resource or a specific topic related to gluten-free labeling that you’d like to learn more about, drop us a line! You can email [email protected] or tweet us @CeliacAwareness.
To our GREAT health,
August is here and the end of summer is fast-approaching. Here are two final summertime recipes for you to enjoy before the cool fall weather sets in.
COLD CORN CHOWDER
GREEK-STYLE PASTA SALAD
British-born award-winning chef Oonagh Williams has a culinary arts degree and was trained in London and Switzerland. Based in New Hampshire, Chef Oonagh began adapting meals to gluten-free versions after her son was diagnosed with gluten and lactose intolerance two years ago. To learn more, visit Chef Oonagh’s website at www.RoyalTemptations.com or ‘Like’ her at Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh on Facebook.
By Silvana Nardone
Get your gluten-free cooking and baking questions answered by the expert! Have a question for Silvana? E-mail Alicia at
What are some snack and lunch ideas to pack in my child’s gluten-free lunchbox?
Can you believe it’s back-to-school season already? That means we’ll be packing our gluten-free lunchboxes before you know it. But the question is what are we going to put in those lunchboxes? This can be tricky at times, especially if your child’s diagnosis is relatively new. We don’t want our children to feel different from their friends, but we do need to make sure they’re staying healthy and gluten-free. That said, here are some easy lunch ideas to try out this year:
Sandwiches are still an option.
Even though your child is gluten-free, they can still have their sandwich for lunch. Gluten-free bread and wraps are now widely available, but consider using lettuce instead to add more nutritional value. Use a piece of fresh lettuce to roll up gluten-free lunchmeat or other fresh veggies and just secure with a toothpick. If you want to make your own bread, try this recipe for Isaiah’s Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread.
Pack plenty of naturally gluten-free foods.
Buy an insulated lunchbox and send your kid with fresh fruits and veggies. You can send them with a gluten-free salad dressing or hummus for dipping veggies. Yogurt and cheese sticks are options, too. Small cold packs work really well to keep snacks fresh until lunchtime.
Cookies, crackers and chips.
If you want to send your child with a treat now and again, gluten-free cookies, crackers, pretzels, snack bars and potato chips make great options, especially because they won’t make your child feel different from their classmates. It’s also a good idea to give your child’s teacher some gluten-free snacks to keep on reserve for emergencies, birthday celebrations, snack time, etc. If you want to make your own cookies, try these Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies or Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Slice-n-Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Don’t forget about the salad.
Make a traditional salad loaded with fresh veggies and topped with grilled chicken or tuna. You can go the “sandwich salad” route and pack an egg or tuna salad sandwich to give them the protein they need to stay satisfied throughout the day. You can even stretch your budget a bit by using chicken leftover from dinner to make chicken salad for a sandwich or to eat right from the container.
Want more school lunch ideas? Register now for the free webinar from NFCA, “
About Silvana Nardone
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has formed an alliance with the Gluten-Free Certification Program, developed by the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA), to launch the first gluten-free certification program endorsed both in the US and Canada.
The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) will provide consumer guidance and protection by differentiating certified products from the increasing clutter of gluten-free claims in the marketplace.
Learn more about the new partnership by reading this press release.
Prepping for college is stressful for any student, but when you throw a gluten-free diet into the mix, things can feel downright intimidating – especially if you don’t know where or how to start. NFCA recognized this challenge and has been providing resources for gluten-free college students since 2010. This year, NFCA is proud to expand the collection with a new toolkit and blog series designed to help gluten-free students feel more comfortable and confident on campus. Here’s a glimpse of what students will find in the toolkit:
We’ve done the homework so you can feel more prepared!
French Meadow Bakery is giving away a gluten-free prize pack to one lucky student who downloads the toolkit. Plus, every student who downloads the toolkit will be entered into a drawing to win “The Ultimate Package” from Gluten-Free Labels.
As you gear up for the new semester, read some real-life perspectives in our Gluten-Free in College Blog Series written for students, by students. Throughout August, NFCA will share stories from the students who’ve been there and get what it’s like to live gluten-free on a college campus. Each post will be focused on a different aspect of navigating the college experience, from sticking to a budget to selecting a school.
The Gluten-Free in College Blog Series is the second of its kind, following on the heels of Series 1, which was released in 2011. Now, a new set of students is ready to tackle the issues and help guide new and newly diagnosed students through their college experience.
Special thanks to French Meadow Bakery for sponsoring this blog series!
Read their stories: Gluten-Free in College: Blog Series Part 2
Watermelon and Strawberry Pops
Watermelon and strawberry have evolved to be one of my favorite fruit combinations. Plus, the riperthe fruit, the sweeter the pops, so this cool recipe is ideal to enjoy in the heat of summer.
Feel free to reduce the honey in the watermelon and strawberry blend if your fruit is particularly ripe, but be aware that the finished pops will taste a little less sweet once frozen.
GREAT Story: Kind Burgers Bounces Back from Hurricane Sandy
It was a bittersweet moment when Kind Burgers opened its doors in Fair Haven, NJ, on June 7, 2013. For the gluten-free community, it was a new destination recognized as a GREAT Kitchen by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. For owners Yvette and Anthony Cafaro, it marked more than 7 long months of rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.
Kind Burgers’ first home was in Sea Bright, NJ, where it opened on August 21, 2012. The Cafaros designed the restaurant to be a place where anyone could go for a burger – including those on a gluten-free diet. They offered gluten-free buns on the menu, and when they heard about NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens gluten-free training program, they immediately registered for the course.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing everything correctly,” Yvette said.
After completing the training, Yvette made some changes to improve gluten-free safety, such as adding a dedicated gluten-free toaster. But before the team could really act on what they learned, disaster struck. Superstorm Sandy hit the town straight on, and the restaurant was destroyed.
“It was a complete loss,” Yvette said. “The waves had pushed some things toward the back of the restaurant, and the other stuff it just dragged out. Even the heaviest equipment – it was gone.”
The building had taken on six feet of water, leaving mold and mildew behind.
With nothing to salvage, Yvette and Anthony had no choice but to completely rebuild. With support from family, friends and the community, they laid out a plan – this time choosing a location 5 miles west, away from the threat of another hurricane.
As a bright point in the process, the Cafaros took the rebuild as an opportunity to make the restaurant gluten-free friendly from the ground up. The new Kind Burgers now boasts a dedicated section for gluten-free prep and a dedicated gluten-free fryer; employees change gloves before touching any gluten-free ingredients; and gluten-free meals are placed in separate to-go bags to ensure there’s no risk of cross-contact.
Among the gluten-free options at Kind Burger: hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, French fries and all sauces. Naturally, burgers are their specialty, including patties made from lamb, turkey, chicken, kobe beef and angus beef.
One week after Kind Burgers’ grand reopening, NFCA volunteer and GREAT Kitchens affiliate Jordana Schneider stopped by to congratulate the Cafaros on earning NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens status. Together, the trio placed the official GREAT Kitchens decal on the door, welcoming all gluten-free diners to a place where they can eat comfortably and confidently.
“I congratulate the Kind Burgers team on overcoming such tremendous challenges and staying dedicating to gluten-free safety through it all,” said Beckee Moreland, Director of Gluten-Free Industry Initiatives for NFCA. “We hope residents and visitors will visit Kind Burgers and help them achieve the GREAT success they deserve!”
Read more about Kind Burgers in this article from Jersey Bites.
Free Webinar: “GREAT U Special: Navigating the Gluten-Free Social Scene at College”
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ (NFCA) second webinar of its special ‘kid and teen series’ will identify how gluten-free college students can overcome any obstacle while away from home. An open discussion will provide attendees with tips on how to stay gluten-free in the dining hall, dating do’s and don’ts, preparing your “Celiac disease is…” elevator speech and more! Join NFCA as Rebecca Panzer, MA, RD, LDN and Sam Master, a third-year medical student living with celiac disease , lead a lively presentation aimed to answer the top concerns of gluten-free college students.
Sponsored by Thai Kitchen, this webinar is free of charge!
Join the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) for the 6th Annual Celiac Awareness Night with the Philadelphia Phillies! Watch as the Phillies take on the Los Angeles Dodgers while enjoying even more gluten-free food and drink options at the ballpark. Plus, enter a free raffle to win Phillies gear, tickets to a 2013 regular season game, free parking and more!
15th International Celiac Disease Symposium
The world’s largest meeting on celiac disease and gluten-related disorders is happening this year in the Windy City. With two educational tracks, the International Celiac Disease Symposium (ICDS) gathers the research, healthcare and patient communities to share knowledge and discuss hot topics in the celiac disease field. The symposium includes educational sessions, social activities and an exhibit hall.
Visit www.ICDS2013.org for more details and to reserve your seat today.
Free Webinar: Kids Central Special: Packing the Gluten-Free Lunchbox
Join NFCA as dietitian and chef Garrett Berdan, RD leads a discussion aimed specifically for NFCA Kids Central community members! The audience will benefit from this back-to-school webinar designed to share suggestions and recipes for healthy gluten-free lunches. Parents will also learn ways to engage their gluten-free children in the menu development process, an important detail to ensure diet compliance and healthy eating behaviors.
By Alicia Carango, NFCA Communications Assistant
NFCA Talks Labeling Gluten in Medication with New York State Representative Nita Lowey
As NFCA continues its research in the field of gluten in medications, we took the opportunity to catch up with New York State Representative Nita Lowey, who recently proposed a bill that would require manufacturers to disclose gluten on medication labels. Rep. Lowey was kind enough to respond to interview questions about the proposed bill. Learn more about her motivation and goals by reading our interview.
Debate Over “Gluten-Removed” Beer Continues
A recent article on FooBooz covered the confusion over “gluten-removed” beers and whether they are safe for consumers with gluten-related disorders. The article hit as dietitian Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, posted new information on her blog about the effort to scientifically validate a method for detecting gluten fragments in beer. While no official statement has been made on validating this particular testing method, the new evidence indicates that the conversation about “gluten-reduced” beer is ongoing.
Finally! A Video That Summarizes the Problem of the Gluten-Free Fad
If you’re looking for a quick way to explain the gluten-free trend, check out this video featuring CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. In the video, Dr. LaPook describes how the gluten-free diet has made a dramatic swing from being virtually unknown to being over-adopted by people who think they have gluten sensitivity but may not actually have the condition. LaPook also emphasized that the gluten-free diet should not be considered a weight loss regimen, and echoed NFCA’s advice to get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten-free diet.
Sportscaster Reports on Being on the Road with Celiac Disease
Field reporter for the New York Mets Kevin Burkhardt talks about his experience with celiac disease and how much things have change in the five years since his diagnosis. His perspective on eating on the go is unique as his job requires a lot of travel, something that can be challenging for people living with celiac disease.
Elevated Gluten Antibodies Found in Children with Autism, but No Link to Celiac Disease
New research found that children with autism have higher levels of antibodies associated with gluten, but these are not the same antibodies seen in celiac disease. Armin Alaedini, PhD, assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center and a 2013 NFCA webinar panelist led the study and shares its findings in the Research News Feed post.
Blood Pressure Medication to Include Warning about Celiac Disease-Like Side Effects
In 2012, NFCA reported on a blood pressure medication that caused celiac disease-like side effects, even in people without the autoimmune disease. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a warning about the gastrointestinal side effects will be declared on the label.
By Alicia Carango, NFCA Communications Assistant
Enjoy Life Chocolate Sunbutter Soft Baked Bars
Free from the top eight allergens and gluten, the Chocolate Sunbutter Soft Baked Bars make the perfect snack. I really liked the texture of these bars. They aren’t gritty and they don’t crumble when you bite into them, and yet they’re still pretty soft. There was a slight hint of that salty/sweet flavor, which is a hit in my book. Chocolate Sunbutter bars are perfect for your emergency stash or the kids’ gluten-free lunchboxes. Check out Enjoy Life products at www.EnjoyLifeFoods.com.
Sweet Note Bakery Gluten-Free Bagels
NFCA’s Office Manager Rachel Borofsky tipped me off to the gluten-free bagels from Sweet Note Bakery. They’re a Philadelphia-area bakery, but they’ll ship their frozen bagels across the country. You just have to call. The bagels are allergy-friendly in addition to being gluten-free, so they meet a lot of needs without sacrificing taste. I tried the Everything Bagel and it tasted exactly like a bagel should. The bagels are a bit smaller than your traditional bagel, but what it lacks in size, it totally makes up for in taste. Definitely worth a try! You can read more about the bagels at www.SweetNoteBakery.com.
You Still Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free
You Still Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free by Roben Ryberg is the sequel to her original cookbook titled -you guessed it! – You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free. I love how approachable this cookbook is. The recipes are familiar, yet different from what you’d make on a daily basis, like Vegetable Chili or Pesto with Cheese. I could see this being really great for the newly diagnosed and people who are just bored with eating the same old recipes. When you’re ready to change up your dinner (and appetizer, lunch, veggie, bread, dessert…), definitely check out this cookbook. Odds are, you’ll already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen. You can learn more about Roben Ryberg’s cookbooks at www.RobenRyberg.com or order them on Amazon.com.
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