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Gluten Intolerance Group — 40th Anniversary

Jules Shepard, one of the pioneers in the gluten free world, talks with Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) last week about their upcoming 40th Anniversary celebration.

Cynthia will be joined by GIG’s Director of Social Programs, Sara Vollmer, who will speak about the celebration on November 9th that is planned to honor the organization’s 40-year legacy.

Jules & Cynthia

According to the BlogTalkRadio websites:

GIG’s Mission is to support persons with gluten intolerances, celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and other gluten sensitivities, through consumer and industry services and programs that positively promote healthy lives. Among GIG’s programs is their Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which certifies products around the world as less than 10 parts per million gluten.

The show will focus on the history of the GIG organization, the climate in which gluten and celiac disease were viewed when it was formed 40 years ago, and how things have changed in the world of gluten free since then.

I was fortunate to hear Cynthia speak when she visited the Gluten Intolerance Group in Spokane, Washington  in August 2013.  The GIG is a wonderful organization with many resources and information.  You might want to check out their website for more information on their 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Here is the link for the  31 minute long interview with Jules, Cynthia and Sara.


More Info from the 2013 Gluten Summit

Over the last weeks, I have been sharing information from the speakers at the Gluten Summit. I was not able to attend nor listen to the talks, but  have copies of the lectures.

Gluten Summit 2013

A Grain of Truth: The Gluten Summit
Presenter: Cynthia Kupper, RD
After the Diagnosis: Supporting YOU With Making Sense of Labels, Dining out with Confidence and Transitioning Smoothly to a Gluten-Free Diet

NOTE:  I was fortunate to meet Cynthia at a GIG meeting in Spokane last summer.  Here is what she shared at the Gluten Summit in November.

…the Gluten Intolerance Group is actually a 40-year-old organization, as of 2014. I’ve only been with the organization about 18 years. The impetus for starting this organization was that the research dietitian who founded the organization, Elaine Hartsook, realized that there was no support for people with celiac disease back then. And actually, in 1974 it was still considered an orphan disease, so it was thought to be very rare. And she was looking for a way to help support people in finding a lifestyle that was gluten-free.

The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) has special camps to help children deal with gluten sensitivity:

We actually do a couple of things. We run two children’s camps across the nation. Our children’s camps are mainstream camps. That means we go to camp with 400 other children who don’t have a gluten sensitivity. And, we use that as an opportunity to not only have our children [10:00] have a wonderful camp experience, but to educate 400 other children about gluten sensitivity. And, we do that through games, through food sampling, and things like that.

Just because a food is gluten free does not necessarily mean it is good for you:

So, just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s a healthy food. So many of the gluten-free products today are still made with highly refined flours and starches, have extra sugar, possibly extra fat. And, we’re just going to add to health problems by using them.

So, even on a gluten-free diet, you need to be very selective about the foods that you eat so that you’re getting whole grains and good fiber sources and rounding it out so that you’re getting adequate vitamins and minerals through a variety of foods. I would say color your plate with a lot of colors, and that would be fruits and vegetables. And, watch these starches that we’re eating.

Gluten Free labeling in the US can be confusing.  Cynthia explained it here:

…the definition of “gluten-free” in the United States is 19 ppm gluten content or less. …So, a product that is labeled in the United States as “gluten-free”, whether it has wheat starch or oats in it, has to be 19 ppm gluten content or less. So, that’s a very strict definition. And, what we know from the research is, at that level it should be a safe product for people with gluten sensitivity.

The GIG also certified certain restaurant’s gluten free dishes:

Yes, we have a Gluten-Free Food Service Certification Program. So, we give them a manual….And these are policies and procedures that they have to have implemented.  Once they’re all ready to go–they’ve trained, they’ve implemented their policies and procedures, they’ve provided the documentation on proving that they can determine what is gluten-free, etcetera, in their menus, their recipes, their ingredients–we send an inspector into the location. And, we actually have an objective audit form. So, it’s a pass/fail at 85%. And, if you can’t pass, you have a probationary period in which you can correct.

For more information on the Gluten Intolerance Group, check out their website!


Gluten Intolerance Group Meeting

Sorry, I missed my post last week.  We were on a mini vacation with my step granddaughters in Spokane, 150 miles away.  While we were in Spokane, we took in a meeting and picnic with the Gluten Intolerance Group of Spokane.  Since we live a distance away, we don’t get to meet with these folks very often, but were happy we made this meeting.

The picnic was delicious — so many different options — and I did not need to worry about which were Gluten Free or not!  There were a few meat dishes, but most were vegan as well.  For the first time in years, I ate without worrying or asking if this dish or that dish had gluten in it!!  I was in Gluten Free heaven!!

After the evening picnic, a presentation was given by Cynthia Kupper, the head of Cynthia Kupperthe international Gluten Intolerance Group.  Cynthia, who has been involved with the GIG for over 17 years, gave an excellent presentation — mostly about understanding the new Gluten Free labeling regulations.

Before I share what she said, this is some of the programs GIG is involved in, according to their website:

What are GIG’s industry programs?

1. Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is the first and foremost gluten-free certification program in the world that has deemed more than 10,000 products produced in 15 countries safe for gluten-free persons to consume. Its GF logo signifies the independent verification of product quality, integrity and purity. Companies such as ConAgra Mills, Hains Celestial and Natures Path have GFCO certified products. Please visit www.gfco.org for additional information.

2. Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS)  is a management accreditation program designed to work with all types of food service establishments that serve gluten-free consumers. This program uses training and management strategies to teach employees proper techniques for gluten-free food preparation. Companies such as the Gaylord Resorts, Erlanger Health System and The University of Chicago Medical Center participate in this program. Please visit www.gffoodservice.org for more information.

Cynthia has really expanded the organization since the original founder passed away in 1996.

So, here are some of the points she shared with us about what to look for with Gluten Free labeling:

  1. GIG Certification:  Each ingredient used in a product is tested at no more than 10 parts per million for gluten.  Best and highest foods for safety.
  2. FDA Certification:  20 parts per million of gluten allowable.
  3. Allergen statements:  Often are not 100% accurate when they say “May contain barley, oats, rye or wheat” as companies often use that to protect themselves.  Check the label for gluten ingredients and/or the manufacturer to determine if the product is safe.
  4. USDA logo:  Watch for starch or starch ingredients that may contain gluten.
  5. ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms):  Regulates beer — most of which contain gluten.

Cynthia also shared some new research that indicates that gluten sensitivity MAY BE due to a carbohydrate issue rather than a protein issue.  More studies need to be done before an accurate conclusion can be made.