It’s such a simple question, isn’t it?
You would think that something either has gluten or it doesn’t have gluten and people with celiac disease wouldn’t need to jump through hoops every time they want to eat something…or drink something…or use a new toothpaste…or try a new lotion…or apply a new lipstick (ummm…not personally speaking of course.)
But the problem is that gluten is not one thing. It’s a lot of things. And it’s in a lot of things. And because the FDA has dragged their asses for years, we simply can’t be sure 100% of the time.
There is the dreaded “artificial coloring” and “natural flavorings” in many ingredients. What the hell does this even mean? It’s like they ran out of words for some of these chemically enhanced ingredients, so they gave it a generic name. And we’ll never know what is in them? Do we risk it? I used to. I don’t anymore.
I’ll tell you what. Let’s play a game. I’m going into my kitchen and grabbing a random food item and then we’ll play “Does this have gluten in it?” Be right back.
Ok…thanks for hanging with me. So here is what we have:
Crystal Light Peach Ice Tea Mix
Looks wholesome…delicious…innocent. Can’t have gluten, right? I mean, look at the image, it’s just peaches. Well, let’s take a looksie at the ingredients, shall we?
- The first ingredient is “citric acid”. Off to Google we go to see if that has gluten. (Google is a celiacs best friend). Ok, in the first five results, 3 say safe, 1 says iffy and 1 says it makes them ill. Hmmm…next.
- Instant Tea. No idea what that means but if it’s just tea, we’re good.
- Corn Syrup Solids. Ok…at this point, even if I didn’t have celiac, I wouldn’t be drinking this stuff. Google seems to think it’s ok.
- Maltodextrin. Well it depends what kind of starch it came from. If made in the U.S. should be ok.
- And here’s the rest: Natural Flavor, Artificial Flavor, Magnesium Oxide, Acesulfame Potassium (seriously???), Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1 Lake. My god…it sounds like a box of crayons.
- Ironically, “peach” is not one of the ingredients. Why am I not surprised?
So can I have this? I honestly have no idea. Will I have it? Absolutely not.
So I ask again. What is Gluten Free? And why is it so complicated to answer this simple question?