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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!