These days, I find I get the most interesting news not on the TV, but on Facebook. (Come on–you know you do too.) The other day someone put up a link to an article entitled: “Bogus Baker Gets Prison Term” which of course, I had to read, because it sounded ridiculous. But actually–not so much.
Turns out this guy in Durham, North Carolina, was selling bread that he labeled “gluten-free” which in fact was loaded with gluten (a protein found in wheat and barley). Why is that a big deal? Well, for anyone with celiac disease (1 in about 133 people in the US, but it has a higher incidence in the Jewish community), it’s a serious problem. Consuming gluten causes serious stomach upset in the short-term, and in the long term can lead to cancer. In this case, one woman actually delivered her baby prematurely due to the fact that she’d eaten gluten.
My dad is a pediatric gastroenterologist (read: kids’ stomach doctor) so I’ve grown up with terms like celiac my whole life. (In fact, my dad and his coworkers at the hospital even made a comic book called Amy Goes Gluten-Free–and yes, that Amy is named after me!) But when my best friend and roommate was diagnosed, I really got a taste of what it means to have to forgo gluten. Gluten is all over the place, from the obvious places like bread and pasta, to lesser-known hiding spots like soy sauce and even some shampoos. My friend had to overhaul everything she ate, has to ask really annoying questions in restaurants, and has, unfortunately, been the victim of gluten poisoning herself. I can’t tell you what restaurant it was in because I think there’s some kind of non-disclosure agreement, but I can tell you that gluten poisoning is BAD. VERY VERY BAD.
I was thrilled to see that this supposed gluten-free baker was punished for pretending his goods were gluten-free. It’s a hard diet to live on, especially because there isn’t a lot of federal regulation of the gluten-free label. But this case might help to turn the tide toward further regulation, which would be really exciting for folks with celiac everywhere.
Do any of you have celiac disease–or kids with celiac disease? How do you manage the gluten-free diet?