Eight Simple Rules for Gluten Free Companies to Follow

gluten free companies

Dear Gluten Free Food Companies,

I am touched by your desire to have me sample your products. Honestly I am. I think it’s totally cool you want to send me free food. I mean “free” and “food” are two of my favorite things.

And really…who doesn’t like getting packages in the mail? It’s like Christmas morning here when the mail comes.

The thing is, as my audience continues to grow, so does the amount of emails I receive from companies like yours asking me to try your gluten-free goodies. And I am more than able and willing. I’m sure your food is every bit good as you say it is. (Of course, I’ve never received an email that says “Hey Gluten Dude, our food sucks…wanna try some?”)

But let’s face it…we’re all busy people. You’re busy trying to manufacture and sell your product. And lord knows I’m busy trying to run my own business, run my own blog, be an advocate, be a husband, be a father, blah, blah, blah.

The last thing we all want to do is waste each other’s time. As Ray Davies said “Art takes time, time is money, money’s scarce and that ain’t funny”. Let’s be respectful of Mr. Davies.

So if you don’t mind, I’d like to present some Gluten Dude rules and guidelines. Please read these the next time you’d like to send me some samples. You won’t waste your time and I won’t feel bad about wasting your time. It’s a win-win.

And away we go…

Rule #1: I won’t eat processed crap. If it’s got 10 ingredients, half of which I can’t pronounce, I won’t eat it.

Rule #2: I don’t do reviews on my blog. Early on, I thought it would be cool to have a big review section. To be honest, I just don’t have the time. If I like your product, I promise I’ll share it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. But I won’t do a full review. Besides, how many different ways can you say something tastes good??

Rule #3: On the other side of the coin, I will never bad mouth you if you send me something, even if I think your product is putrid. I may reach out to you directly and provide some honest feedback, but you never need to worry about me calling you out in public. Unless of course you’re a Kardashian.

Rule #4: Don’t ask me to do a giveaway. My blog is a lot of things. But it’s not a giveaway kind of blog. I’m not knocking it. I think it’s awesome that other bloggers do this. It’s just not my thing.

Rule #5: Don’t ask me to exchange links. Nuf said about that.

Rule #6: Don’t tell me you love my blog and then send me an email where it’s quite clear you have never read my blog. At least do your research and show me you’ve put a smidgen of effort into the process.

Rule #7: I like beer. Yes…that’s a hint. As long as it’s gluten-FREE and not gluten-REMOVED, I’m game.

Rule #8: I saved the biggie for the last one: do not send me any food that has been made in the same facility that processes wheat products. I won’t eat it…ever. You’ve got to know your audience.

I recently received an amazing package. The box could’ve fit a large screen TV inside of it. And it was filled with a variety of chips….all different flavors.

And every damn one of them were made in a shared facility.

So I emailed them and asked them how they can guarantee my safety if I eat them. Not that I was going to risk it, but I was curious what they would say.

Their response? “We clean the machines before making gluten-free items.”

That’s right, it wasn’t just a shared facility, it was a shared line. You can’t tell me that cleaning the line eliminates the risk. I’m not buying it. And I’m not trying it.

So that’s it…eight simple rules to make the world a better place. Well…at least my little corner of it.

And just to be clear, I’m not remotely ungrateful for your efforts.

It’s just that my health and my time are precious things, and I know yours are too.

Thanks for you consideration.

Gluten Dude

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45 thoughts on “Eight Simple Rules for Gluten Free Companies to Follow”

  1. My favorite? When the PR people try to send me products that aren’t even remotely gluten-free. Oh, and when PR people tell me that I am wrong about GF oats (I have a reaction) and everyone with Celiac can eat oats. Oh really? Is it impossible to think I might actually have other food intolerances besides gluten?

        1. Oh yeah, I’ve been fed the line that GF Oats are fine for all Celiacs. My DH flares up instantly. My Anatomy & Physiology teacher actually told our class that most food allergies were in the “mind” – and if you just train your mind, you can overcome these issues…This was back in 2008, but I have a heart-attack just thinking about it.

          1. It’s a disgrace the way people in the US (and not just food industry people, but doctors too) ignore the evidence that some people with celiac react to oats. In other countries it’s standard for people newly diagnosed to be told to avoid oats until all gastrointestinal symptoms have resolved. When I spoke to a Kinnikinnick rep at last year’s GFAF Expo she was fully aware of that (Canada). This is a complex disease, and attempts to oversimplify it really trouble me.

            Also: Nice rules. Of course, I must say, I wish I had so many people knocking on my door to try their products that I had to make regulations for them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. No oats for me either Erin. Or dairy, soy, corn and other grains. Any possible cross-contamination of any of the above…not good. Most “gluten free” foods are out for me though I still eat well ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. With the cost of some of this stuff, I wouldn’t mind some freebies once in a while either.
    But in all seriousness, I’m with you. It applies to restaurants too: don’t say you’re gluten free if a person with Celaic can’t eat it safely.

    1. Ken said:

      “Restaurants: Donโ€™t say youโ€™re gluten free if a person with Celiac canโ€™t eat it safely.”

      Amen, brother.

      (looks like we’ve got another tee shirt slogan.) ๐Ÿ™‚

      I eat some G F packaged products, but I follow my own rule #1 which is: 5 ingredients or less, no words I can’t pronounce and it has to have the BIG BLACK circled G F GIG certification. Dedicated facilities and No shared lines for me. Learned that lesson the hard way.

      Any food item or menu item can say “gluten free” but it only means “no gluten ingredients”. No guarantees how it was prepared, what else is made there or if it is safe.

  3. I am shocked by just how many “certified” GF products are made on shared lines, but are not DECLARED to be made on shared lines. I recently discover this about Nature’s Path Organics cereals, which had been my go to brand. I found an odd looking “flake” in my cereal bowl one morning and called (just to reassure myself, I thought) that there was no way that this could be a flake containing wheat. Since there is NO disclaimer on the package saying it is in a facility that also processes wheat, I expected a “Don’t worry, just another cereal type in the mix.” Unfortunately, I was told to send the flake to them. It turns out all of their cereals are processed in a shared facility on SHARED LINES. When I asked why in the world there is not a disclaimer saying the products are made in a facility that processes wheat, they said, and I quote: “Because legally we don’t have to”. Meanwhile there is a disclaimer on the package that say “produced in a facility that uses peanuts, tree nuts and soy.” When I read a disclaimer like that, I assume, if wheat was also used, it would be in the damn disclaimer. Meanwhile all of their GF cereals, including the kids ones, are labeled certified GF, all while being produced on shared lines. (Hmmmm, I guess I probably should have emailed this separately as a Celiac Rant! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Kathleen, this scares the heck out of me. I always assumed that if that marker was there – “made in a facility that processes soy, dairy, tree nuts” and it doesn’t say wheat, then the facility does not process wheat. I tend to have silent symptoms so don’t always know if I’ve been glutened. This explains why my antibodies haven’t dropped much ๐Ÿ™

      1. Sally-

        I had always made the same assumption. Now I know I can’t. Which means, I guess, that we have to call every single company EVEN if the package says certified GF and even if wheat is not listed in the disclaimer. SIGH.

        It is just crazy.

      2. Yikes, me too. Thank you for giving us that info., because I made the same assumption. I just added them to my “gf-avoid” list. grrrrr!

  4. Rule number one eliminates most GF products, you could have stopped there! That is why I rarely review products on my blog, because I don’t eat that kind of stuff. I do like to tell my viewers about products I like by using them in recipes, but they often end up not being specialty GF foods. I also will tell it like it is if I think a product is unhealthy, worthless or too expensive. I have ranted on numerous occasions about GF Bisquick! A tiny little box of rice flour with sugar and no shortening. Thanks for the laugh, I agree with your list 100%.

  5. Hey Dude! I think your very last sentence is the most important. “You have got to know your audience.” I think so many restaurants and manufacturers are so busy trying to make a buck on the gluten free “fad” that they truly have no idea who their audience is. I agree with Ken, “don’t say you’re gluten free if a Celiac can’t eat it safely.” This would apply to everyone selling a GF product!

    Thanks Dude for doing your best to educate others and keep us safe!

  6. It’s junk food where the money is. Not too many purveyors of meat, vegetables, fruit, and natural dairy are looking to give out samples.

    I’d take a rib roast.

  7. Hey GD, you know if you ever want goodies from the company I work for… you get the idea. I was blown away at a recent tradeshow as I was next to a company called Evergreen. They sell wheatgrass juice that is certified gluten free (huh?). They test their product every single day they harvest (sent to an outside lab), though I forget which organization certifies them. They are even going to be attending the upcoming GF Expo in Calgary (Canada). I can’t get my head around how this product can be certified gluten free. I’m guessing they keep the 20ppm standard, since I don’t think this product could ever be completely free of contaminants. For those who don’t know about wheatgrass, the gluten come from the grain, not the plant portion. While wheatgrass itself would technically be gluten free, any sprout that has grown to a certain point would in theory produce the grain (gluten). If this gets mixed with it, bam, contamination. The wonderful representatives for this company were very kind (super awesome, even) and knew a lot about their product, but this just isn’t something I’m willing to try. I don’t think I’m just being a gluten snob. What does everyone else don’t think?

    Their website is here: http://www.evergreenjuices.com/#!100-goodness/c2jb

  8. Crystal Yarbrough

    I’ll throw my peeves in too! Olive Garden in the town I live in (Tuscaloosa, Alabama —ROLL TIDE) is horrible when it comes to knowledge of their gluten free menu and lay the burden at the feet of the consumer. Thank goodness I had previously had the mixed grill and knew to question the demi glaze sauce that arrived on my plate THAT IS NOT MENTIONED ON THE GLUTEN FREE MENU, yet the manager told me “You should have asked for it without the glaze! GRRRR. Also, I love Buffalo Wild WIngs and they have lots of sauces that are gluten free, BUT be sure to ask that the kitchen staff “sauces” your wings in a styrofoam container rather than the usual prep bowl or you may get a “surprise” chunk of batter from the boneless wings. Has anyone tried any of PF Changs Gluten free options? I’ve never really eaten their much before diagnosis, due to the ungodly high sodium content.

    1. I went to Buffalo Wild Wings near Bay Shore, NY yesterday. I didn’t really know if I could eat anything, but my diabetic dad needed a meal stat. I had scanned the online menu in the past but didn’t go in depth.
      I asked the server for their GF info and explained about the celiac. There was instant recognition in her face and she brought it right away. I asked her if the wings were spun in separate bowls- yes- and if the fries were cooked separately from the breaded foods. She called the manager over for the answer to the second question, which was yes.
      I said I was sorry for being a pain, and the server, Amanda, said “it’s ok, we want to make sure we don’t harm you.”
      I felt like I was able to eat peacefully and had a nice conversation with my dad. And Amanda got a nice tip.

      1. Ken, I love dining-out success stories like yours.:)

        I often have good responses from chefs and waitstaff too, (particularly in an upscale place where the chef cooks from scratch) but let’s face it, guys—some high volume chains like Olive Garden (and I did not even like their food before DX, but that’s just my palate, ok? ) are not going to “get it”.

        They do not have the time. They do not want to take the time. They want to make money, fast and pump out lots of food. Do not ever, ever expect a Pancake house or a Cracker Barrell (or any place like that )
        that says “oh yeah, we have one of those GF menu thingers” to be able to serve up a safe GF meal for a celiac.

        Bonefish Grill–now, they get it!!. ๐Ÿ™‚

        “GF menu” does not always mean safe KITCHEN practices.
        I have been burned even after conducting a very polite pseudo-Spanish Inquistion. lol

        The burden is on us and it always will be ( and that makes sense from an economical standpoint in their business heads)… unless of course, “opposite world” occurs and we become the norm…. (and in my dreams, this really happens! lol ๐Ÿ™‚ )

        1. If you’re ever in Asheville, NC, go to Posana Cafรฉ. Everything in the entire restaurant is gluten-free with the exception of about four craft beers on tap that they clearly indicate isn’t GF. (They had Omission beer on the menu when I was there a few months ago, but had a warning that it may not be safe and to drink it at your own risk.) Odd to have a menu where the non-GF items were marked rather than the opposite. Chef Pollay is the co-owner (with his Celiac wife) and executive chef. He gets it.


          1. As long as we’re sharing ๐Ÿ™‚
            Naked Oyster in Hyannis, Mass on Cape Cod. Chef is GF and he and his wife create fresh, masterful dishes. I could just live in that place.

            Bistango in NYC. Chef knows GF and the dishes are fabulous.

            Craft in NYC. Staff and chef took great care of us. Excellent food.

            Tryst in Arlington, Mass. Chef Paul has a relative with celiac and he makes sure the GF entrees are safe and man, are they delicious!!
            he wrote me a lovely message in reply to mine.

            Chef Michael’s in Key Largo FL…he knows what to do. This chef answers emails himself.

            I could go on and on, but basically, if the chef is open minded and cares about the clientele and the staff gets some training, you’re going to be safe.

            BTW, ALL of these chefs got thank you’s from me and if I emailed or called beforehand, I got prompt replies. Several wrote back and thanked me for letting them know they “did a good job”. And I wrote them all up on Find Me Gluten Free and Trip Advisor.

            I feel that If someone does a good job, we should tell them and tell fellow GeeEffers so we can keep paying it forward..

            1. That is nice to know about chef’s around the country who are knowledgable about GF, but many people are like me. I rarely travel, there is nowhere to eat out safely in my rural community and when I drive 35 miles to a bigger town to shop etc I have to bring almonds and apples and just suck it up till I get home because I can’t find anywhere safe. I heard of two places, but they are both very expensive, so I just go home. Sometimes it makes me feel bad for my husband. My daughters moved to 2 GF friendly cities, so now I will look forward to sometimes going there.

    2. I tried out Buffalo Wild Wings with great fear (only ate one bite the first time), but our local one does an awesome job and we now eat there often. I always get the wings with the dry rubs (no sauce) and haven’t had an issue yet. I haven’t tried anything on the menu but the wings. I have read mixed reviews from Celiacs so I suppose it depends on the location.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didnโ€™t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, Iโ€™ve done my job.

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