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Thursday, April 17, 2008
Gluten-Free at S'MAC
"S'MAC (short for Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese) is an exciting new eatery located in the heart of Manhattan's East Village.

[They] specialize in, you guessed it, Macaroni & Cheese! [Their] menu is simple yet delicious with a variety of "MACS" available. Come check them out -- you won't be disappointed! You can eat-in, take-out or for those days that you just don't want to change out of your pj's, S'MAC does offer delivery."

You can now order gluten-free S'MAC dishes in the East Village for an additional cost. I haven't had a chance to go yet myself (although it might be a good thing to grab for dinner tomorrow night) but it is getting great reviews in the NYC gluten-free community.

CHECK IT OUT:
345 East 12th Street
NY, NY 10003
212-358-7912
sarita@smacnyc.com
http://www.smacnyc.com/glutenfree.html

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Gluten-Free at Passover
This year the food available for Passover is turning out to be a gluten-free goldmine. I have never seen so many gluten-free products or labels in a mainstream supermarket. I was at ShopRite in Plainview, Long Island on March 23rd when they first put out there Passover items. I was reminded today, when reading Gluten-Free NYC, of exactly how many gluten-free items ShopRite really does carry during Passover. I grew up in Plainview, so I wrote to my mom today with my gluten-free grocery list. I want to try those gluten-free ravioli! Stock up now!!! Yes, the prices will probably be reduced by 50% by the end of Passover but the shelves will also be empty and you will probably only end up with a box of smooshed macaroons. Don't forget to read the labels since not all Passover food is gluten-free.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Gluten Free Certification Organization: Follow Up
A recent thread on the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup message board prompted quite a discussion about the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO). GFCO is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG). Cynthia Kupper, the Executive Director of GIG, took the time to address our thread and thoroughly answer many of our outstanding questions. Please see her Q&A below.

"I can only address the GFCO program and FDA. My knowledge of the CSA Seal of Recognition program is limited to the information made public through comments provided by CSA to the FDA."

Q: Do you know if GFCO plans to work with other programs, i.e. NFCA's G.R.E.A.T. program, to do trainings and establish standard protocols throughout the collective food industries?

A: GIG and GFCO do work in partnership with various members of the food industry already. Many agencies are working within and with the food industries to provide education and training related to gluten intolerances. Some of us are working together in this effort.

Q: Is it true that only people who work for the Orthodox Union and have no business conflicts are eligible to be trained to be GFCO inspectors?

A: GFCO contracts with third-party auditors, including the Food Services Inc, a part of the OU and other independent auditors who have expertise in manufacturing processes.

C: Right now smaller food companies don't have any easy route to certification from anyone.

R: GFCO's ultimate target is the raw materials suppliers, supplying ingredients to the companies making GF foods. Our goal is to make the food safe from the beginning of the food chain as well as the end product. GFCO works with companies of all sizes and has a small business package. GFCO works with small businesses and new companies to find a way to provide consumer confidence and assurance in their products.

Q: What is the GFCO Process for Certification?

A: Companies who certify with GFCO must complete an application. A risk assessment, independent audit and report are completed. If a company qualifies to be certified, a contract which includes: requirements for onsite testing, random testing from a point of sale; and unannounced plant inspections is signed. GFCO also maintains the right to take action to protect the consumer from fraudulent GFCO claims or Standards violations.

Q: If the FDA comes out with a definition of gluten-free being < 20 ppm, would we then be able to trust any product that declares itself gluten-free even if it is free of a certification label?

A: Yes. Any product labeled GF after the FDA regulation goes into affect will have to meet the standards set by the FDA. 20 ppm is a very safe level for celiacs and it is virtually impossible to consume that level of gluten, based on eating GF products.

Q: Would there still be a purpose to having certification by GFCO or CSA?

A: Yes. Certification is voluntary, as is labeling a product GF. Companies who certify their products believe in meeting higher standards and welcome third party oversight. External oversight is healthy and provides a higher level of accountability for manufacturers. Let?s face it, the FDA is understaffed and will not be able to provide adequate oversight for all companies.

C: The two companies out there CSA and GFCO do not make it convenient, easy, or cost-effective for small companies and almost impossible for non-dedicated facilities.

R: GFCO does work with small companies to make certification cost-effective. The challenge is to also make the program cover its own expenses. Companies who understand the value of third-party certification for organic or kosher also understand the value of GF certification. The overall cost of certification is pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, certification may be out of the reach of small companies just getting started?but call GFCO?you may be surprised what can be done.

It is possible to certify non-dedicated facilities! There are a number of factors that go into certifying products in non-dedicated facilities, but it is do-able. GFCO audits and consults with co-packers on a regular basis. Many GF products are safely produced in non-dedicated facilities at no detectible gluten in their products.

Q: What about testing methods?

A: the Haven Flow-through is just one testing method available. Some are based on Skarrett and others on r-5 sandwich Elisa methodology. It is the r-5 that is being supported by CODEX. At this time we do not know what the FDA will use. There is on-going debate in the analytical community about the need for using both methods rather than just one. Each has its strengths and weaknesses when seeing specific gluten proteins. GFCO uses both methods.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Gluten-Free Birthday Fun
Last week was my 30th birthday and I took advantage of the big 3-0 by celebrating all week long. I cannot party like I used to, yet I was out four out of five nights. Pretty good for 30, huh? ;-)



I started my birthday off on Wednesday with homemade gluten-free French toast, strawberries, and sausage. I just loved the flavors along with the colors of my placemats and napkins from Guatemala. I ended my birthday week (that's right, I said week!) with a party with my friends and family at the Village Pourhouse, a bar in the East Village that serves Redbridge and two gluten-free ciders (Magners and Woodpecker). My friends surprised me by giving me a half dozen gluten-free cupcakes from BabyCakes. The carrot cake cupcakes are still my favorite, although having my first red velvet cupcake ever was exciting as well. I also got a gluten-free cookbook and a gluten-free goodies gift basket along with many other extremely generous gifts. I am always touched the most by those who buy me the gluten-free stuff because they make me feel like that truly understand being gluten-free is a part of me being me. Thank you again to everyone who made my 30th birthday week so special!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008
Gluten Free Certification Organization
A member of my NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group recently posted this information so I thought I would share it with my readers.

The Gluten Free Certification Organization (gfco.org) is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG - gluten.net, you also know GIG as the administrator of the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program). It was founded with the mission of giving the gf community the complete assurance that products are indeed gluten-free and safe for consumption. Long before the FDA established a standard for gluten-free (currently at 20 parts per million), the GFCO has been testing to, and requiring that companies meet, a standard of 10 ppm.

Many large, international food companies are expressing interest in the GFCO -- this is driven by both the FDA's decision and the increased awareness for Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance driven by media and also people like you and me.

So how can you help the GFCO to continue its important work and have an impact?

1. Check out the company's that are certified and write them an email to let them know you appreciate their dedication to the GFCO and the GF community.
2. Call or email your favorite companies that are NOT currently certified. Let them know that they can easily contact the GFCO for more information.
3. Finally, consider becoming a member of GIG to show your support for the GFCO, the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program, and all the programs that help us all lead our lives successfully.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008
Gluten-Free Traveling Bears
The Westchester County Celiac Sprue Support group runs a program called "Gluten-Free Traveling Bears". The Gluten Free Traveling Bears is a great program where a family can sign up to have one of the gluten-free stuffed bears come and visit their child for a few days. They love to track where the bears go and the kids they visit. The bear comes with a binder full of info on eating GF, fun activities for the kids and a disposable camera so that the family can take pictures of the activities that the bear participated in during the visit. It only costs $25, which really just covers the shipping and the materials for the package and a small donation for their local participation in the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program, this program works with restaurants to offer gluten free menus. If you know any kids who would like a visit from one of the gluten-free bears, please go to the WCSSG website (www.westchesterceliacs.org) and click on the GF Traveling Bears to download the request form.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008
Gluten-Free Fun is back!!!
After a really ugly loss of template, my blog is back and looking just as pretty as before. I tried adding AdSense to my blog at the thought that it might enhance the user experience. I give it a big thumbs down. The placement, display, and use of the AdSnese was just screwing up my page. I was always anti-ads on my site but I thought I would give it a try. It didn't work and I lost my entire template. I had to revert to one of the ugly Blogger templates for a while and I was disappointed with the look and feel of my site, it just wasn't me. I tried reaching out to Zoot Designs, the designer of this template, but I had no luck. I was finally able to resurrect an old template I had saved somewhere and put my HTML skills to work piecing this site back together. I hope you like this layout as much as I do. It is much more reflective of my personality.

Welcome back!

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2008 Gluten Free Cooking Expo
Gluten Free Cooking Expo 2008
September 12-13, 2008
Doubletree Hotel
Oakbrook, Illinois

The Gluten Free Cooking Expo is a fun learning environment for anyone who is interested in removing gluten and all its effects from their kitchen.

You will enjoy:
  • Two full-days of gluten-free cooking demonstrations by notable chefs, cookbook authors and nutritionists

  • Printed recipe so you can follow along, take notes and ask questions about successful replacement ingredients for common allergens such as soy, sugar, egg, dairy and corn

  • Learning how to prepare each dish, and getting the chance to taste them as well


The vendor showcase will introduce you to many of the best gluten-free products available and tell you how to get them. Plus don’t miss tthe happy hour tasting of gluten-free liquors and beers.

You’ll also have several chances to enter drawings throughout the Expo to win fabulous products. All guests will take home a gift bag of great gluten-free special offers and products.

Fun, friendly and entirely gluten-free—this is the Expo that has all the answers you’ve been looking for. Spend two days with the Gluten Free Cooking Expo and learn to prepare a whole new world of gluten-free snacks and meals.

Click here for more information: http://glutenfreeclasses.com/

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