All Posts tagged Packaged Foods

Gluten-Free Labeling in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Mariano’s

Gluten-Free Labeling in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Mariano’s

 

Whole Foods Market
I recently submitted questions to each of the mainstream grocery stores in my area (north side of Chicago – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Mariano’s) where I frequently do my grocery shopping to determine what their in-store Gluten-Free labeling really means. As you may or may not know, currently there are no FDA regulations in place that require a food manufacturer to prove a food is really gluten free (i.e., contains less than 20 PPM) even if it is labeled as such. There’s good news though – the FDA passed a new rule in 2013 that will go into place in August 2014 that will make this a requirement. (You can learn more about the labeling law on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website). In the meantime, we should all know what these stores’ policies are in relation to the foods they label as gluten-free in their stores.

Here’s the question I submitted to each store:

I’m gluten-free (by medical necessity) and I’m curious how your gluten-free labeling works. I’ve noticed some of your packaged foods are labeled with a “gluten-free” sign. As you probably are aware, right now there are no FDA regulations in place that require a food manufacturer to prove a food is really gluten free (i.e., contains less than 20 PPM). The FDA passed a new rule that will go into place in August 2014 that makes this a requirement. Can you tell me if the foods in your stores marked with the signs fit within the “less than 20 PPM” category” (therefore most likely certified by an accredited agency like GIG) or if they just mirror what’s on the label, which wouldn’t necessarily mean it was GF at this point in time.

Here are the responses I received:

Whole Foods Market

From Whole Foods:

Thank you for contacting us about in-store “gluten free” labeling. Our policy is to only make in-store “gluten free” claims via shelf tags, signage, etc. for products that have been reviewed and approved by the Global Quality Standards Team. Our position is that a Gluten Free claim should mean that the gluten level in the product is below 20 ppm, and that any Gluten Free product claims should be substantiated by quality assurance and testing protocols that verify the gluten level.

We also have a store specific Gluten Free Shopping list that is continuously updated and only contains products that have been approved and are available in our store. For your convenience I’ve inserted the link that will take you to the online Halsted Gluten Free Shopping list. If you like we can gladly print out a copy for you the next time you’re in the store.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/gluten-free-products-list?store=6563

Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any other questions or concerns

From Trader Joe’s:

Hi Joy,

Thanks for the inquiry. All of our products labeled with the words “Gluten-Free” have been laboratory tested to meet the required 20ppm or less per serving. The “No Gluten Ingredients Used” List is for products that are made WITHOUT gluten, but have not been tested for ppm.

You may call us at 626.599.3817 with any questions you have.

From Mariano’s: Note – I have not received a definitive response from Mariano’s yet but did receive a phone call within 24 hours of my request letting me know they are looking into it. I will update this post when once I receive their response. 

 

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Mariano’s Market is Gluten-Free and Organic-friendly!

Mariano’s Market is Gluten-Free and Organic-friendly!

Large mainstream grocery stores can be overwhelming to those of us who need to shop for allgery-friendly products like gluten-free or dairy-free foods. And, if you’re focused on organics, it’s often difficult to find a range of options to keep you satisfied. Today my neighborhood – Ravenswood – celebrated the grand opening of the new Mariano’s, located at Lawrence Ave. and Ravenswood, conveniently located right next to the Ravenswood Metra stop. Being that I fit into all three of the above food categories – gluten-free, dairy-free and organic – and help my clients transform their diets to include healthier foods and allergy-free options, I wanted to check out this new store to see what it has to offer. I especially wanted to see if I could rely on this store for my gluten-free and dairy-free staples.

My verdict?  This store is a great addition to the neighborhood, even for those of us who have special dietary requirements. The proof? See my finds below. And what’s more – the employees were friendly, willing to help and well-informed – all great things for those of us with specific grocery needs.

Here are my top Mariano’s Finds!

Lots of Organic Produce!

Organic Kale

Organic Produce

Organic Produce

A Dedicated Wheat & Gluten-Free Section

GF Grocery

Dairy-Free Yogurt 

Diary Free Yogurt

Almond Milk

Almond Milk

Gluten-Free, Organic and Vegan Food Markers (These are part of Mariano’s Wellness program, Health KeyTM)

Organic Olive Oil

Gluten Free and Vegan Food

 Organic Coffee!

Organic Coffee

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My Top Picks for Packaged Foods

My Top Picks for Packaged Foods

I recommend filling your cart with whole and fresh foods. Still, we all know it’s difficult to avoid packaged foods at the grocery store – they make our lives easier! Check out my top picks for packaged foods which includes items I feel good about and bring home on a regular basisMy list will help you make better choices during your next grocery run. Plus, I offer 2 rules to guide you in choosing the right foods for you and your family.

My rules…

Rule #1: Focus on foods that contain only a handful of ingredients. The fewer the better.

Rule #2: Buy foods with only recognizable ingredients. This will keep you and your family from eating foods that are loaded with preservatives, sweeteners and trans fats.

My list…

1. Brown Rice Crackers (by Edward & Sons).

Gluten Free Crackers

These crackers have two simple ingredients – brown rice and sesame seeds. That’s all you need when you’re craving something crunchy to go with your hummus or some cheese.

Gluten-Free Crackers

Gluten-Free Crackers

2. Larabars

Larabar

Not all bars are created equally! Just say “NO” to bars with added sweeteners and a long list of ingredients! Larabar offers nearly 20 bars, many of which have only 3 ingredients and use dates – not sugar – to sweeten.

3. Brown Rice Pasta (Organic varieties offered by Lundberg and Trader Joe’s)

GF Brown Rice Pasta

Whether you’re gluten-free or not, brown rice pasta is delicious. Plus, it’s now available in most stores and is a far better option than the pasta you grew up eating (i.e., Enriched Wheat Pasta). Look for a pasta that contains nothing beyond brown rice and water. There’s no need for other ingredients, pure and simple. If you’re at Trader Joe’s, they offer an organic option which in my opinion is the best brown rice pasta on the market.

4. Frozen Fruit

sugar free fruit

I always have frozen fruit on hand for smoothies. You can also defrost it for morning oatmeal or to top off your waffles in place of syrup. But be sure to check the package  before placing it in your cart – oftentimes companies sneak in sugar, so choose a brand that only gives you fruit – that’s all you need! Choose organic when you can to free your body of toxins from pesticides.

5.  Raw Nuts

Raw Almonds

Nuts are a delicious and filling snack, plus are loaded with beneficial fats. I always have a bag or two on hand.  Look for packaged nuts that contain nothing more than the nuts themselves – you’ll notice that oils, salt, sweeteners or preservatives are often added, but need not be there. 

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