STIRLING, N.J. — At Gluten Free Gloriously, labels mean everything. Between dealing with consumers that suffer from Celiac Disease to consumers that are highly anaphylactic to certain ingredients, reading and relying on the trust of labels is a lifeline to most of our customers.
As a certified gluten free and allergy friendly bakery, we spend countless hours auditing every ingredient within our ingredients to ensure that the process from sourcing to bringing ingredients into our facility, meet specific guidelines. The measures we take and processes we have are what our customers have come to rely on us for the safety of their health and quality of life.
Although we understand the reasoning behind the FDA’s relaxed food labeling, we cannot assume that manufacturers audit ingredients carefully enough to consider the end consumer and/or professional baker’s concerns such as the possibility of cross contamination from a facility that has not been sterile of a certain allergen.
A perfect example is the simple chocolate chip. Did you know that many chocolates are made in a facility that also uses peanuts or tree nuts? That most chocolate contains soy lecithin? For us, a chocolate chip must be sourced and verified from a peanut/ tree nut free facility and cannot contain milk or contain soy products. Although the chip itself is nut free, most are not made in a nut free environment thus increasing the risk to a life-threatening allergy that affects many.
“As a Pastry Chef and past NYC Paramedic, I walk into my kitchen every day remembering the countless anaphylactic 911 calls that I have gone to, some of which did not have positive outcomes,” says Gluten Free Gloriously owner and Chef Nick Nikolopoulos. “Every process, every precaution, and every label in my bakery represents the millions of Americans that suffer because of life threatening allergies every day including my nephew and son. To many companies, labels mean revenue because the American consumer loves fancy tags and fancy “certifications” on labels. To our consumer it is life or death,” adds Nikolopoulos.
We must do better as an industry and as a country to help make forward movements for everyone that suffers from celiac disease, food allergies and other auto immune diseases where ingredients make a difference.