As much as I love Aldi’s (See my last two posts!) I have a peeve with them and also with Trader Joe’s. I ate some mini edemame chips a friend gave me last week, the packet said GF on it When I got done I went back and read that it was made on a processing line that might have had contact with wheat. Gross as I had eaten the whole bag over a few days snacking. Not the first time that has happened. When people give me gifts that say GF on them I tend to have my guard down and feel safe to consume. Not a good situation. Happened with those pea pod snap crackers a few months ago too…
This sort of issue is pretty common at both Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s. Many times I put food items back on the shelf after scanning the package and finding words of shared processing equipment. I can’t buy much of their nuts, dried fruits or seeds due to the shared equipment. Most of them don’t say GF on them but honestly, I expect a jar of plain roasted peanuts or plain almonds to be GF, not to mention dried fruit. It is so disappointing to look at the package and see those fatal words of possible cross contamination.
FYI: GF means no wheat, rye or barley of any form or version in the ingredients 20 ppm (parts per million) gluten in it. Cross contamination is when my normally safe food picks up tiny amounts of gluten from the processing equipment because it was previously used to process food that contains gluten i.e. Wheat/rye/barley flour or grain.
Anyone who knows celiac disease knows that cross contamination is a major issue for celiac persons. I generally don’t buy food that has that possible contamination disclaimer on the package. If you have celiac you try to avoid even small amounts of gluten as they have such a terrible effect on your body. So the possibility of even a tiny bit is enough to make me reluctantly put back chips, nuts, etc. Who wants to spend good money on food that you end up pitching or giving away because of a slight amount of gluten that is making you feel terrible?
Aldi’s, and to some extent Trader Joe’s, make a big deal out of catering to gluten free eaters. The biggest and most vocal group is those of us with celiac. We have to avoid anything with 20 ppm or more of gluten in our food, some get sick even at that low level of contamination. I am very careful to avoid any possible gluten. I get pretty sick and if it happens again within a week or two I feel even worse the second time. God forbid it happens a third time….
If you put that “GF” labeling on your package of food I am trusting that it will be safe for me, someone with celiac disease. A tiny bit of gluten is still terrible for me. That label is misleading if there is even a small chance of contamination due to shared processing lines. Telling me “No gluten ingredients used” is simply NOT enough.
So why, do they use the same equipment that processed gluten containing products? Why not have dedicated GF foods only equipment? It makes a lot of sense to all of us who’s lives depend on eating safely every. single. day. This is not a “choice” this is a life style for our very survival. You mess with that when you label food as GF which for me means totally safe. And yet….it might not be safe for a celiac due to this cross contamination issue. I can’t even understand how they can use that label if there is a cross contamination possibility due to shared equipment. If you want the right to put GF on your package you darn well better create it in a gluten free environment and that means equipment that NEVER processed gluten containing foods. It is very difficult to fully clean this equipment to return it to a fully gf state.
Time for both Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s to clean up their act and use only dedicated GF equipment for foods that normally do not contain gluten products. May is National Celiac Awareness Month; a perfect time to come clean both of you, Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s. Just do it. We with celiac will eat safer and buy more gf foods at your stores. I promise.