In the last few years, the food industry has climbed onto the gluten-free bandwagon, offering more gluten-free products than ever before. If you are just starting on the gluten-free diet, you will have an easier time than people in the past. If you are already on the diet, it is a good idea to look at some of the new products. You may be able to buy and/or prepare dishes that you could not eat previously.
It is said that 1% of the population has celiac disease, and many of these are not diagnosed. Market analysts report that 15% of people are now buying gluten-free foods, which represent a 2.6 billion dollar industry. Many people are following celebrities who praise the gluten-free diet. Whatever the reason, more mainstream companies are making gluten-free products.
Campbell’s, for example, says “Campbell is aware that many of our consumers or their family members are gluten sensitive. We offer various gluten free products, both in the United States and Canada.” This includes Swanson’s broths, Prego Italian sauces, Pace salsas, and a variety of V8 juices are said to be gluten free. In fact, there is no reason for Campbell’s Tomato Juice, or many of the other items which are listed as gluten free to have gluten in them to begin with. Most of these items can easily made without adding gluten, since wheat is not needed to make soup stock or spaghetti sauce.
Nevertheless, Campbell says, “We analyze gluten-free products to ensure compliance with our strict gluten-free standards at the time of initial production. We perform ongoing testing on finished products on a frequency of at least once every six months to assure continued compliance with our gluten-free policy.”
Another company doing the same thing is General Mills. Since they sell cereals, breads, baked goods, and baking supplies, they provide gluten-free products that can really be of assistance to people with celiac disease. General Mills makes the Betty Crocker brand, which now includes gluten-free cake, brownie, and cookie mixes, frostings, and pancake batter (Bisquick). There are a number of snacks, bars (Larabars), yoghurts and soups. General Mills gluten-free offerings can be found at many grocery stores and chains.
Many if not most grocery chains are stocking gluten-free food, including Gelsons, Pavilions/Vons, and Albertsons. Kroger has their own line of gluten-free products, and also stocks the more well-known items like Betty Crocker. Meijer also has its own line of gluten-free foods. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Wegmans, and Hannaford stock gluten-free products. In Canada, all the major grocery store chains (Safeway, Superstore, Sobey’s) carry gluten free products, although the selection may vary greatly.
There are items available beyond the gluten-free choices from well-known manufacturers like General Mills. One supplier is “Enjoy Life Foods” which has been making gluten-free food for at least a decade. It used to be necessary to buy their products from an online store; now they can be seen in the aisles of Gelsons, Meijer stores, and many more. Enjoy Life Foods are not just gluten free but many are free of other common problem ingredients like nuts. Anyone with a food allergy can easily find choices from this line of foods. For example, their “Cinnamon Crunch Granola” is gluten free, milk free, egg free, soy free, nut free and kosher. This cereal is also vitamin enriched, with iron, B vitamins, folic acid, magnesium and zinc, which is unusual.
The increased demand for gluten-free food has translated into increased availability as well as increased variety for consumers. Wherever you are, you can probably find baking, bread and cereal substitutes and more in your one of your local stores. If not, you can order online.
One word of caution – do not assume that everything in the “gluten-free” aisle at the store is in fact gluten free, because that depends on the policies of the store and the person stocking the shelves, not the manufacturer. Read the packaging to be sure, and if it is not from a line of products you know to be safe, call the manufacturer. You can also look for the sign of the Gluten Intolerance Group, which tests food and offers a designated Gluten-Free Certification to the labels of foods containing less than 10 ppm of gluten.