Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Questions About the Possibility of Gluten Contamination


rancho_gordo
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just got off the phone with a very strident gluten free consumer. She was asking how we process our beans and as the conversation went on, she claimed that on a gluten free forum, someone had tested out beans and they came back positive for gluten. I said I'd need to know the name of the bean, where it was tested and where it was purchased to continue but she kept saying that I was unreasonable. We have no gluten products so where this was coming from was troubling and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Then it turns out it was a home test and the result was .01%! She refused to name the bean, the test or when the beans were purchased so from my point of view, it was a worthless conversation. She also refused to name the forum.

The caller felt we should be doing more but being that we don't have any gluten products, it has to be happening organically in the fields or it's "in the air" and I don't know what more we could do.

But being that beans are beans, wouldn't the .01% of magic gluten be rinsed off when you were rinsing the beans? Does gluten stick to the beans after rinsing, boiling and then hours of simmering?

The caller was somewhat unpleasant and indulgent and I hate to tar all gluten free people with her brush, but it's very hard to sympathetic when dealing with people like this.

I am very willing to be corrected but what do you think?

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If there were no gluten products in the plant, then either it must have gotten in somewhere after you packaged them. Or, more likely, with such a small amount it could be a false positive. I would ask her to return the package with some beans so you could check other beans for gluten. And, I would ask her for the name of the test, its manufacturer and the batch number in case it was a problem with the batch of the test. By the way, all tests have false positives and false negatives.

I would send the beans to a lab that uses a carefully controlled tests to see if you get the same result. If you do, then an unopened bag to the lab to see if it came from your plant. I would send her the lab tests. If it were found in both samples, I would start a witch hunt to see where the gluten was introduced. And, I would thank her for identifying the problem. If it were a false positive, I would notify the maker of the test so, it can be corrected at their end. I would also notify the consumer that it was a false positive. Tell her that a false positive gives an extra level of protection and you were working with the manufacturer of the test to see why you got a false positive.

However, from what you say, I doubt she will be of any help. I don't know the physiological effect of such a small amount would be; a medical specialist could give you an answer.

Good luck!

Edited by Mikels (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have her contact information? Have your corporate attorney write her a letter, asking for all that information mentioned in the previous posts, and sending it regular mail and certified. This way, you're on record for requesting information that will help either prove her claims, document an issue with that batch of testing kits, or allow you to clarify any confusion. :)

Good luck. I feel for you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great points and great advice.

She caught us all off guard but I kept insisting I didn't want to continue the conversation until I found out what bean and batch she was talking about.

But don't you think the rinsing would take care of this, making it all a huge waste of time?

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just checked with Shauna Aherne, the Gluten Free Girl and the trace amounts of gluten would be gone when the beans are rinsed.

I am calm now! But bookmarking this page for future reference!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a little Google search about gluten tests and found, in a totally unscientific way, a bit of over the top, sky is falling gluten-phobia. One piece of advise for the newly diagnosed is to discard all of one's non-stick cookware, because it is porous. I guess everything is porous to some infinitesimal degree, but... Get rid of wooden tools and cutting boards that might harbor gluten? Sure. But Teflon coated metal? How much gluten could that carry?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just got off the phone with a very strident gluten free consumer. She was asking how we process our beans and as the conversation went on, she claimed that on a gluten free forum, someone had tested out beans and they came back positive for gluten. I said I'd need to know the name of the bean, where it was tested and where it was purchased to continue but she kept saying that I was unreasonable. We have no gluten products so where this was coming from was troubling and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Then it turns out it was a home test and the result was .01%! She refused to name the bean, the test or when the beans were purchased so from my point of view, it was a worthless conversation. She also refused to name the forum.

The caller felt we should be doing more but being that we don't have any gluten products, it has to be happening organically in the fields or it's "in the air" and I don't know what more we could do.

But being that beans are beans, wouldn't the .01% of magic gluten be rinsed off when you were rinsing the beans? Does gluten stick to the beans after rinsing, boiling and then hours of simmering?

The caller was somewhat unpleasant and indulgent and I hate to tar all gluten free people with her brush, but it's very hard to sympathetic when dealing with people like this.

I am very willing to be corrected but what do you think?

For reference, the home tests go down (accurately) to about 10 parts per million. If my math is right she's claiming that you tested at 10,000 parts per million. That's high enough that the EU won't let a product be labeled as gluten free and there are good reasons to believe that the old EU standards (200 ppm) were too generous for ideal health.

Those are -freakishly- high numbers, IMO for a natural product, and would be sufficient cause for me never to buy it again.

That said, I don't believe it. Wheat bread is usually 10% gluten by weight. So that would be contamination equivalent to 1% wheat bread in a bag of beans. You'd almost SEE that in the beans. Moreover, the home tests involve pulverizing the food and mixing it to a paste or slurry with water, which I think most people would find impractical to do without soaking/cooking the beans or introducing other avenues of cross contamination. And then you get a positive or a negative, not anything as precise as a percentage.

I eat beans that are packed on shared equipment with wheat and barley, and could potentially have grains of either in them. I pick/rinse/soak and don't worry about it. And I'm highly sensitive. I'll point out for your future reference though that boiling and simmering don't do anything to eliminate gluten.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a little Google search about gluten tests and found, in a totally unscientific way, a bit of over the top, sky is falling gluten-phobia. One piece of advise for the newly diagnosed is to discard all of one's non-stick cookware, because it is porous. I guess everything is porous to some infinitesimal degree, but... Get rid of wooden tools and cutting boards that might harbor gluten? Sure. But Teflon coated metal? How much gluten could that carry?

It can carry "enough". I'm not a fearmonger, but I am remarkable sensitive. And yes, I got sick from what we presumed to be our nonstick cookware when I was first diagnosed. Do I have proof that's what it was? Nope. Do I eat foods cooked in known 'contaminated' nonstick now? Nope. At least not on anything approaching a regular basis. Scratches and dings can obviously make it more problematic, as can different cleaning methods, since nonstick surfaces tend to acquire an oil film.

It's an auto-immune reaction, and you can trigger it with less than 200 parts per million. That's roughly on the order of seven times the amount of sodium in my tap water. At that level it's likely to be a minor reaction (possibly even unnoticeable), but minor reactions add up and suddenly you're not getting better anymore, or you're getting markedly worse. And you start looking at anything new in your diet, instead of an accumulation of old things that you decided were "good enough". And you call and ask questions that sound insane, because there's only one new thing in your diet, so it must be making you sick. And all the while it's your nonstick cookware, or your wooden spoons, your seasoned cast iron, your stand mixer that blows wheat flour out of the motor, or your breakfast drink that added "wheat starch" to their ingredients and you didn't notice.

For me - a gluten reaction is three days off work with symptoms that mimic appendicitis. New nonstick cookware is dirt cheap by comparison.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of this. The funny thing is that I'm very sympathetic to people with this condition. I imagine having it and then having people dismiss it as a "tummy ache" makes you defensive and maybe even a little nuts after awhile. Having this woman insist we change things when all she had to do was rinse the beans suggests that kind of extremism. But it doesn't help the cause.

I'm not sure about the math. She told us the FDA standard for gluten free was 2.5% or less. Again, we were .01%.

I hope there's a cure soon and I'm sorry that people have to suffer through this.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just looking at this from another point of view...there *are* people who phone up people they don't know with extremely unreasonable requests/claims/complaints.

I can't and do not say that this particular caller's claim was or wasn't well founded, but as long as your phone number is accessible, you will no doubt get some phone calls from people who are not mentally able to judge what's reasonable and what isn't. Please don't tell me I'm being condescending - we had a difficult relative living with us for a while, and had to talk him out of/clean up after some ill-advised phone calls.

Such a caller would be just as distressed as if they were making a reasonable complaint, but if you feel that somebody is not making a lot of sense, don't try to reason or argue them out of it, as each new argument probably just confuses them more. Once you've established what you can or should do about the situation, perhaps the best thing would be to just gently re-iterate your POV succinctly and calmly and try not to let the phone call go on too long (the more often the caller repeats their point, the more convincing it becomes to them, unfortunately). For example, if you can't do anything without the original package, then just keep returning to that point. The caller will have to cede that point, and with any luck, that will eventually short-circuit the tangle of assumptions that led her to call in the first place. And of course, if the caller does send the package, well and good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have friends with celiac disease and they rely on beans for much of their diet as long as they are dried - many canned beans contain wheat products. If they are processed in a plant where grains are processed, simple rinsing will remove 100% of any residue.

As noted by other posters, some people simply can't be satisfied and will refuse to listen to reasonable and correct information.

Too often they don't want to be satisfied, they want to cause trouble and sometimes are looking for a payoff.

The best way to handle these people is to refuse to speak to them.

Inform her that her phone call is being recorded and unless she produces verifiable information in physical form, i.e., paper printouts, the recorded phone calls will be turned over to the district attorney.

My local health food store had a bad experience a few years ago with a person who threatened "exposure" of poor sanitation if they didn't "settle" with her. She was phoning a dozen times a day.

They did inform her that her calls were being recorded and would be turned over to the sheriff's office for prosecution of fraud.

That ended the phone calls but she was sticking little "posters" up around the area but was finally photographed doing this by a parking enforcement officer and arrested when she refused to remove them (it's illegal here). She turned out to be a nut case who had walked out of a "secure" mental health facility in Nevada several months earlier.

They were lucky she didn't get violent, in Las Vegas she had attacked a server at Caesars Palace a few years earlier for "poisoning her food."

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of this. The funny thing is that I'm very sympathetic to people with this condition. I imagine having it and then having people dismiss it as a "tummy ache" makes you defensive and maybe even a little nuts after awhile. Having this woman insist we change things when all she had to do was rinse the beans suggests that kind of extremism. But it doesn't help the cause.

I'm not sure about the math. She told us the FDA standard for gluten free was 2.5% or less. Again, we were .01%.

I hope there's a cure soon and I'm sorry that people have to suffer through this.

To be honest, I don't usually discuss being gluten intolerant much. It's like anything else involving the immune system, it can vary from no-reaction to life-threatening and how it affects me isn't really anyone else's problem. I've been doing this for 8 years, and it's pretty old-hat to me by now. Some of my precautions are probably overboard, but.. eh, better than the other way.

There currently is no FDA standard for gluten free labeling. The FDA is currently proposing standards of 20 ppm (parts per million, so .00002%), which is what the EU standard is now. Those numbers she gave you are completely fictitious, and I'd suspect the whole story, given that there's no buzz at all about beans and gluten testing, let alone -your- beans and gluten testing. And that kind of thing spreads like wildfire in the gluten free community.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...