This weekend I had the pleasure of going to Orlando for the inaugural Gluten-Free Living Conference. There were many experts on so many different subjects. I am looking forward to briefing you on it all. But I wanted to capture a moment first that I couldn’t take notes on during the conference.
The final event that happened at the conference was an expert panel. Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the Gluten Intolerance Group; Pam Cureton, dietitian for the Center for Celiac Research; Michael Savett of GlutenFreePhilly.com; Jules Shepard from gfJules.com; and Anne Lee, Dietitian for Schar and I all sat on a panel.
We talked about several topics from gluten-free certification programs, to making your foods healthy, to gluten-free travel and how to be gluten free when your family is not. We each had a topic and then at the end we took questions.
Labeling, Ingredients & Placement of Gluten-Free Products
One of the questions that was asked, was a topic I posed on my blog a few weeks ago. I wish I would have taken a photo of the card with the question on it. What I remember is an attendee asking whether she should be only looking at, and shopping for, products labeled gluten free. She added she has celiac and would prefer to be reading ingredients as well.
Initially I answered that yes, we all should be looking at the ingredients in addition to looking for a gluten- free label (a much abbreviated answer from the post in March). Then we moved on. But as we were talking and the microphone came back to me, before I moved onto another point, I wanted to take a moment to add to that first question.
I wanted attendees to know that grocery stores and liquor stores can have incorrect in-store marketing that tells people a product is gluten free when it is not. Their displays would like you to think they are experts in this area, but they are not. (Remember this photo at right from 2013? The in-store marketing was not great for Goodbye Gluten bread)
That is when the conversation lit up on the panel– it began with the topic of gluten-free versus gluten-removed beer.
- Amy Ratner, editor of Gluten-Free Living and moderator of the panel, explained that gluten-removed beer cannot be labeled gluten free because it is made from barley. There are no tests that can check the gluten content in fermented products (a topic in the upcoming June issue of Gluten-Free Living magazine, also one I have covered here).
- Jules Shepard reminded people not to let grocery stores decide for you what products are gluten free.
- Amy again told attendees to think about all the foods that just get dropped in aisles and spots that they don’t belong. You could accidentally pick the wrong thing up.
- Michael Savett said when he saw Omission (a gluten-removed beer) at a local market with a gluten-free shelf tag, he tweeted them and asked them to pull it. (Something you could do too if you see a problem like that).
- I believe it was during that time also that Anne Lee from Schar piped in and said that gluten-free beers are high in vitamin B and you should drink your beer!
- As for the labeling inside a liquor store, I mentioned the TTB told me that once the gluten-removed beer gets to a liquor store, their oversight stops. Cynthia Kupper said that is where the FTC takes over with regards to “truth in advertising”.
Whew! It was a rousing discussion that was both entertaining AND educational! I think everyone must have learned a little something during that panel. It was very cool!