Celiac.com on Cheerios and Gluten-free

I’m going to do something a little different today.  As I develop my business, Country Kitchen Center, I continue to learn more and more about the gluten-free world.  I want to share some information that shows how important it is to gather your facts and check them out carefully.    I’m reprinting an article by  www.Celiac.com  on whether Cheerios are contaminated in the production process.  I giving you the “Reader’s Digest” version.  Take note: you need to trust your own judgement and avoid any food you think makes you sick.  It’s really good GF food for thought.  Please share your thoughts and comments.
Andrea, countrykitchenchaos.com and countrykitchencenter.com

Are Cheerios Really “Not Safe For Celiacs?” Or is General Mills Getting a Bad Rap?

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2017 Issue


Image: CC–m01229

Celiac.com 09/01/2017 –

There are a number of folks in the gluten-free community who complain that General Mills is making people sick by selling Cheerios that they know to be contaminated with gluten due to a faulty sorting process. Because General Mills uses a flawed sorting process, the story goes, their boxes of Cheerios are subject to gluten “hot spots,” which is making some gluten-sensitive folks sick, thus the complaints.

 

It’s important to realize that General Mills produces huge numbers of Cheerios each week. How many exactly? Well, according to their website, General Mills ships 500,000 cases of Cheerios each week. At about 12 boxes per case, that’s about 6 million boxes each week, or 24 million boxes each month.

We know that the FDA received a number of consumer complaints in 2015, when a mix-up at a Cheerios plant in California led to mass gluten contamination, and eventually to a full recall of 1.8 million boxes by General Mills.

During that three month period, after the gluten contamination but prior to the recall, when many consumers were eating Cheerios made with wheat flour, the FDA says it received 136 complaints about adverse reactions to the product. That’s a complaint rate of about one complaint per 529,411 total boxes, and about one complaint for every 5,000 people with celiac disease; if each person with celiac ate 1 box, and the complaints came only from people with celiac disease. (Obviously this is simplified assumption for discussion purposes).

Since the beginning of 2016, the FDA has received 46 reports of people with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten or wheat linking their illness to General Mills cereals, including Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

Also, General Mills uses its optically sorted gluten-free oats for other products. The FDA is certainly taking all of this into account. When they get complaints, they look at large amounts of data to help them put things into perspective. Has the FDA seen corresponding numbers of complaints for different General Mills products made from the same oat sorting process? It doesn’t seem so.

Celiac.com has covered the gluten-free Cheerios story from the beginning, and will continue to do so. We stand on the side of science, and accurate information.

Beyond the obvious gluten-contamination that led to the recall, we have been skeptical of claims that General Mills’ sorting process is flawed, and that their products, including Cheerios are routinely contaminated with gluten.

If this were true, we think the numbers would be very different, and that the pattern of official complaints would reflect that reality. We also feel that General Mills would be facing down lawsuits from hungry trial lawyers looking to put a big trophy on the wall.

We have simply not seen any good evidence that supports claims that Cheerios and other General Mills products are contaminated with gluten “hotspots” that cause reactions in people with celiac disease. We have also not seen evidence that rules out adverse oat reactions as the cause of many of these claims.

If someone out there has different numbers, or better information, we are all ears. However, until we see convincing evidence to the contrary, Celiac.com regards Cheerios and other General Mills products as safe for people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. We do offer the caveat that people should trust their own judgement and avoid any food they think makes them sick.

Stay tuned for more on this and other stories on gluten-free cereals and other products.

Read more at BuzzFeed.com and GeneralMills.com.

Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

Weekend Fit for a Foodie

 

                                                                     Weekend Fit for a Foodie  
                                  
My gleeful selfie-photo at Julia’s house.        My Butternut Squash recipe is at the end of this post.
I’m back from a food-oriented weekend in the Boston, MA area.  I stopped in Cambridge to see where Julia Child lived and cooked.  I was hoping to see a plaque honoring Julia, but there was only a sign discouraging cars from stopping…you can’t stop a foodie from taking photos, including my most gleeful selfie ever.  I later had dinner at Harvest Restaurant, where I had dined many years ago. Before Sara Molton was a TV chef, she used to chef at Harvest and she also in Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen.

          
Beet, cheese and cranberry appetizer.         Artic Char on black rice with vanilla sauce.
The meal was as good as I remembered, especially the sauces.  My dinner companion and I shared a beet appetizer that was the star of the meal.  I took this photo after we ate half of it.  My entrée was Arctic Char on a bed of black rice entrée: check out those “balls of vanilla sauce” that were a standout element in the dish.  We finished with a trio of homemade ice cream flavors: chocolate, maple and raspberry sorbet.  Ice cream is always a good gluten-free dessert choice.   When dining out, be prepared to ask questions about the gluten-free options.  By the way, the waiter was very attentive to my gluten-free needs.

Soup Anyone!?! My main purpose this weekend, was to attend a cooking class.  And, with all the snow we are getting in New York, I couldn’t have chosen a better topic.  Luckily, the class was sandwiched in between several snow storms!

Challenges of ADD  If you have read my posts, you know that my blog www.countrykitchenchaos.com  focuses on two main topics besides food: gluten-free living and attention deficit disorder (ADD).  My life is framed by these challenges and special gifts, both of which I’ve learned to appreciate.  Yet, I still need ways to manage my time and organizational issues.  My gift enables me to envision a creative marketing plan in no time; but I can have trouble sticking to a daily schedule.  Alas, getting my culinary business, Country Kitchen Center up and running is a challenge.  (Of course, this is true for any new business.)

               
A Demo on cutting onions.                                      Helen and Andrea. It’s fun to be a student.
Cooking Class in Action 
I got to attend a cooking class that is held in a home kitchen. I was excited to see how Helen conducts her classes, as I also use a home-based kitchen for my classes.  I always learn best when someone can model a task. In this case, how to organize and run a cooking class.  Helen had everything set to go and the class flowed smoothly.

She concurrently make three diverse soups.  The soup class a “watch and learn” class in which we followed the myriad steps of preparation, demonstration and taste evaluation.  I’m a hands-on teacher/student, but I could see the value in having students observe and then practice in their own kitchen.  She also did several demonstrations, including one on the use of salt in food dishes.  I liked that demo.

  Bouillabaisse with aioli toast.
The soups included a fish stock based Bouillabaisse.  I brought my own gluten-free bread and Helen was careful to toast my bread separately, and then spread the aioli before touching any gluten bread.  Another soup was a velvety, roasted butternut squash soup, with a pomegranate reduction.

The last soup, made in a pressure cooked was a smokey lentil soup.  All were delicious and beautifully presented.  If you are interested in finding out more about Helen’s cooking classes, check out her website www.helenrennie.com  for her own recipes.  I will give you my own version of a butternut squash soup.  I also roast the vegetables, which caramelizes them and brings out the sweetness.  Helen showed us an easy way to peel the squash, which I will include in the recipe below.

The Take-Away  After the class, Helen graciously sat with me and talked about how she started and built her business.  My conversation with Helen was an example of true networking and hands-on learning.  I thank her for reaching out to a fellow cooking teacher.  She has given me much “food-for-thought” in building my food business – and making soups!  Merci beaucoup.

   Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with sour cream and toasted nuts

Ingredients:
1 medium Butternut squash, peeled and cut into wedges
1 sweet potato, cut in half
2 apple, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
2 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
olive oil for coating vegetables
4 cups broth: vegetable or chicken

optional: 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

For Serving:
sprinkle per serving walnuts or pecans, small pieces toasted
1 teaspoons per serving Sour Cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prep ingredients and coat with olive oil.
Spread out in a single layer on baking tray.
Bake about 30 minutes, until all is nicely browned.
Puree in blender with a little broth until smooth.
Put soup, remaining broth and optional butter in a medium pot. Heat and serve.
Top with a dollop of sour cream and toasted nuts.

Notes:
Butternut squash – cut off top & bottom, peel from end to end, cut peeled flesh in half then cut into thinner pieces (triangles & rectangles)
Apples – cut top & bottom off, use peeler or knife to remove peel, cut into wedges, removing core
Onions – remove brown papery layer, cut into half
Coat all with olive oil  in a large work bowl and lay in 1 layer on tray.
You can use a blender wand, but the soup will not be a smooth if you use a regular blender.

Tips:
This soup can be a first course or a main dish, in which case follow with a salad and cheese course. 

 

                            

Comments and information:  Let me know how you like this winter soup pleaser…Post your soup photo with comments to this blog. www.countrykitchenchaos.com 
For more information about our gluten-free classes, workshops and consultation services go to our website: countrykitchencenter.com    In addition, you can email me at ckc@countrykitchencenter.com
Off-site classes:  We do classes at our kitchen center, as well as at the homes of host-students.  If you are interested in hosting a class, please call or text Andrea at #646-670-7699 to learn about the benefits.