Gluten-free labeling is on the mark – but who’s seeing it?

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How much can you trust product labeling when it comes to seeking specialty foods? If you’re trying to buy gluten-free, the good news is that product labels are exceptionally trustworthy, according to new research by the FDA. As a story published in notes, almost 99 percent of foods labeled as gluten-free in the US are in compliance. This means they meet the FDA’s definition of containing less than 20 parts per million of wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives.

Shoppers who are purchasing gluten-free foods can breathe a sigh of relief, particularly those with celiac disease or other conditions for whom gluten triggers severe health issues. While it’s comforting to know that information printed on products is trustworthy, it still doesn’t solve a basic problem in shopping for gluten-free or any specialty food products: it’s a huge pain.

Take an informal survey of your friends, and it’s a good chance that they rank grocery shopping somewhere in between a trip to the dentist and mopping floors on their happiness scale. Let’s face it – grocery shopping is a chore that has to be endured in order to feed the family. Too often we’re going when we’re hungry, tired, or rushed, so who can blame us for grabbing something quickly rather than researching every ingredient. And that’s when we go to the store alone – it’s even more difficult with a toddler (or two) in tow. So while it’s great news to hear that product labels can be trusted, the issue is that we really don’t have time to read them.

That’s one of the reasons we launched – we know how hard it is to make the right food choices in the grocery store. We really needed a resource where we could research options at our own time, in our own preferred place – not with a cranky child whining that one piece of candy won’t spoil her dinner, a shopper maneuvering her cart like a NASCAR-wanna-be, a sound system playing the theme song from your (disastrous) high school prom, and your cellphone ringing non stop from co-workers who haven’t quite registered that you’ve left the office for the day.

Grocery stores are so over stimulating that it can be easy to miss important information. It doesn’t help that food packaging is designed to make you buy – not to make it easy for you to understand exactly what you are buying. Here’s an example of something that just happened to me last week. I have been buying the same brand of rice for years – it tastes great, and I like the biodegradable packaging. But I had no clue it was organic until I found it in the food database. I went to my kitchen to look at the bag, and was surprised to see, in bold letters right on the front of the package, the word “ORGANIC”.

How could I have missed that? It was there, right in front of my face.

Really, given the frame of mind we are in most of the time when we shop, the better question is, why should we think that anyone can see information on the labels. Yes, it’s a relief to hear that manufacturers are doing good job. But with, it’s easier for you to make the right decisions for yourself and your family.

We’re happy to give you the power you need to make the right food choices. If you haven’t already started searching, I urge you to enroll today so that you can find foods that meet your needs, and save your searches for future use. And if you have a story you’d like to share about your experiences with product labels, let us know.

Happy and healthy shopping!


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