And this is why…

…I’m so passionate about gluten-free food and clarity.  Went to lunch at a friend’s house yesterday.  She knows I can’t eat gluten, lactose or soy and very thoughtfully provided me with some delicious pumpkin seed crackers from Waitrose instead of bread for our starter.

Within an hour or so I knew there was a problem, but I wasn’t sure whether it had been a couple of crumbs falling onto my plate from someone passing bread around or whether there was a bigger issue.

Having meant to ask whether I could see the packet from the crackers so I could buy them myself in future – because they were very tasty – the thought got lost somewhere between the Sauternes and the coffee, and so it was only on returning home that I was able to check out the crackers on the Waitrose web site.

Oops.  They were – bleeurgh! – spelt crackers.  I have nothing against spelt per se, but it is not, as many people seem to think, gluten-free.  And having eaten 3 of the darn things I was looking about 8 months pregnant before nightfall with the bloating, while today has been a cola and imodium diet just to get me through the day without having to think about eating.  From past experience, I’ve got another 24-48 hours of feeling rough, and there’s not a food in the world worth feeling this bad.  Sorry.

So I feel awful, and I have no doubt my friend would feel bad about making me ill.  Certainly, I know more than a few people with wheat intolerance who can cope with spelt quite happily, but I also know a few people who think spelt is safe for coeliacs because it’s some ancient, unsullied and non-overbred grain.  Er, no.  Where are people getting this idea?

Of course, if you read the ingredients box on the packet it will have an allergy notification stating that it contains gluten, but that’s on the back of the pack in small print.  If I had one plea, just one, to the food industry at large, it would be to put the allergens in a nice, big box on the front of the packaging so that anyone can see, next to the name of the product, whether it is safe for them or not, without even having to lift the packet from the shelf.  This is such a simple thing to do, and it could improve life for so many people.  Please?

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