Food Safe Guru – Gluten-Free and Organic foods, are they safer?

Posted on October 5, 2012 by

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Mark Sutton, on last night’s Rock Center, gave a heartfelt endorsement of going gluten-free.  If you believe what he told viewers, then, jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon really helped him deal with aging, but it wasn’t going gluten-free alone.

Another clip showed a young male and female couple being interviewed who said that she went gluten-free because it was healthier. Her boyfriend went along with it. Come on, she was a nice looking girl. You understand my point without getting graphic. The article is on the Huffington Post.

Is gluten-free the new organic? Many new parents think that going organic is safer than standard food products. Case in point, Whole Foods.  This past week, Whole Foods has had its share of recalls. According to the Organic Trade Association:

Seventy eight percent – more U.S. families than ever before – say they are choosing organic foods, according to a study published today by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). “In a time when the severity of the economy means making tough choices, it is extremely encouraging to see consumers vote with their values by including quality organic products in their shopping carts,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO. The finding is one of many contained in OTA’s newly released 2011 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study. “It’s clear that with more than three-quarters of U.S. families choosing organic, this has moved way beyond a niche market,” Bushway added.

That’s what the young lady said about gluten-free, “It’s healthier”. The food trends expert last night said that gluten-free is now more than a fad, it’s a trend.

According to the study, four in ten families indicate they are buying more organic products than they were a year ago. The findings are in line with those in OTA’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey, which revealed that the U.S. organic industry grew at a rate of nearly eight percent in 2010. Fueled by consumer choice and demand, the organic sector is one of the few components of the U.S. economy that continues to add jobs.

Nearly half – 48 percent – of parents surveyed revealed that their strongest motivator for buying organic is their belief that organic products “are healthier for me and my children.” Other motivators for purchasing organic included concern over the effects of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics on children, and the desire to avoid highly processed or artificial ingredients.

A Celiac  research article  says:

“The retail market for gluten-free foods and beverages is exploding as a result of multiple triggers. On the marketer side, giant General Mills has converted its venerable Rice Chex Brand to gluten-free status, thus beginning what promises to be a battle of giants as other mega-marketers look to enter the fray. The first giant marketer to create a gluten-free product was Anheuser-Busch, which debuted a gluten-free beer, Redbridge in 2006. Also that year the international spice giant McCormick and Co. acquired Simply Asia Foods. Undeterred, numerous specialty marketers have sprung up, using web 2.0 networking to sell directly in what has long been a consumer driven market.

On the gluten-consumer side, demand has been growing exponentially as sufferers of a wide variety of maladies (including celiac disease, autism, attention deficit disorder, irritated bowel syndrome, and MS) have come to believe a gluten-free diet will provide relief. The consumer core of celiac disease, and gluten allergy, sufferers is also growing steadily as diagnosis and treatment of these conditions has improved and increased.

If you read the words “come to believe” it is like an infomercial. The direct benefits of going gluten-free if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy is not questioned. If consumers are made to believe a product will cure their ills, then it is a marketers dream. I can see this couple hosting a football party with gluten-free Redbridge and gluten-free Chex Mix, and guys walking in with a six pack of Bud Light. The girl said, “Oh no, we are a gluten-free house”. It is not as far-fetched as it seems.

Organic and gluten-free foods are not safer than conventional foods unless it is a medical necessity. In 2010, Gluten Free Naturals had a recall. Whole Foods has had several recalls this week. These are manufactured products and may have the same risks as any other product in the food chain. Since Gluten-Free is a relatively new category, it is only a matter of time before food recalls may be cropping up (pardon the pun). We’ll have to wait and see.

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 © 2012 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties

Posted in: Family safety