Sunday, December 9, 2012

The label says Gluten Free (*But not, like, if you really can't have gluten)

This sort of thing really pisses me off. There's a local bagel place, Los Bagels, that subscribes to the Domino's Pizza vision of gluten free marketing. They say on their blog that their bagels are "a great victory for gluten intolerant people." They add: "Los Bagels boils and bakes them fresh daily, so people with gluten allergies can share in the experience of a fresh baked bagel any time they want." The owner adds, "I have friends in the community who don't come to Los Bagels, because one of their children or their spouse is allergic to gluten...For people with food allergies, it is a challenge to eat out and I'm happy some of these folks can come enjoy a Veggie Delight or a bagel with cream cheese and lox."

And then they add the disclaimer. They note that they are a traditional bakery and that wheat flour is "in the baking environment." They add, "We are educating our staff and our customers about exactly what we are offering, since some people do have an extreme allergic reaction to gluten. So far, it seems a large majority of our customers are only mildly allergic or not eating gluten for other health reasons." 

Gee... this sure is a "great victory" for those with "gluten intolerance" and allergies. Wouldn't you agree? 

They also offer these pre-packaged and they are sold in the freezer next to the Udi's and Glutino selection at the local market under a hard-to-miss "gluten free" sign. They do put a tiny disclaimer on the bottom of the label on the bag that the bagels are, like, gluten free but maybe not that gluten free. But how many unsuspecting suckers do you suppose have just seen the big friendly "gluten free" sign and missed the fine print?

I'm so sick of the gluten free fad diet thing. It used to be, back in the day, that if a company bothered to put "gluten free" on the label, you could usually trust that it was, indeed, gluten free. Now it's just another marketing slogan. Places like Los Bagels obviously don't have a clue how much harder they make the lives of people who medically can't eat gluten. When, oh when, will we finally have a law defining that gluten free has to--gasp!--meet an accepted legal standard defining gluten free.

For the record, Los Bagels is one of the only places around here I won't even get a coffee in. There are other bakery-type places here where I can meet friends and reasonably safely have a coffee while they munch on their cookies or whatnot. But not here. I got a cup of coffee at their Eureka branch a while back and wound up in gastro-purgatory, doubled over in agony for longer than I'd care to remember. My suspicion was that a server who'd just handled a bagel hadn't wiped the crumbs off her fingertips before gripping the edge of my mug. It had been busy, and she had touched the top of my mug. If I'd been thinking more clearly, I wouldn't have let that mug touch my lips.

At any rate, the thought of eating a "gluten free" (sort of, maybe, but only if you're only "mildly allergic") bagel from a place like that... ugh. 

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