06 September 2011

Gluten Strikes Again

Glutened. Again. This is why I haven't been online much. In my house, "glutened" means one or more of us accidentally ingested gluten - usually in a tiny amount, because we are crazy careful. This time, I suspect it was the "gluten-free" Chex cereal, because it's the only thing we all ate and because it's the only new thing any of us ate. Also, when I phoned the company, the service rep told me a flat out lie about labelling laws and then hung up on me when I asked her to check. So yeah. No more Chex.

Oh how the labelling laws infuriate me. Come mid 2012, the new rules come into effect. On the surface, they look great: "Gluten sources will need to be declared when a food contains gluten protein, modified gluten protein, or gluten protein fractions from barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat"
Fabulous, right? Well yeah. Except that they mean the food ingredients contain it. They don't include contamination from processing. So, if I get a Halloween Caramilk bar (HA! I wish) and it says gluten free, it means that none of the ingredients contains gluten. However, the chocolate may be "run off" chocolate. That is, the chocolate that was poured over other chocolate bars, like say KitKat, and the stuff that ran off underneath the line is used for the Halloween smaller sized ones. So my little Caramilk may have crumbs from the KitKat, but they can still call it gluten-free because the chocolate doesn't contain gluten. Furthermore "with this updated terminology, companies that manufacture products made with barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat but do not contain gluten protein will have the option of labelling them as gluten-free in Canada (eg: products containing pure maltodextrin derived from wheat will now be able to label themselves as gluten free). It is felt that this change will be of benefit to celiac patients, since it could further expand the availability of healthy food choices for this group".

WTF?! This is akin to saying the rate of poverty is going down because you lowered the poverty line! Food I couldn't eat before because IT IS DERIVED FROM WHEAT I can now eat because you're calling it gluten-free?! Because maltodextrin from wheat has every single molecule of protein removed? Really? Every single one? And you guarantee that? No, of course you don't.

Furthermore, the new regulations blow chunks like some of us will:

Do the new regulations cover the precautionary labelling?

The new regulations cover food allergens, gluten sources and sulphites that have been deliberately added to food products. They do not cover the inadvertent presence of these substances as a result of cross contamination.

This means that anything can say, "Gluten-Free" as long as they don't deliberately add it. So now we have to call every single company unless it says, "Processed in a gluten-free facility" and there are only a few specialized brands that do this. Is it any wonder I shy away from processed foods?!

Crackle and Pop got it the worst, and "coincidentally" they also ate the most Chex. I thought it tasted like roasted ass, so I only had two. And well, let's just say it ain't pretty. Pop can't sleep when he's glutened. His sleep becomes fractured by screams and writhing pain. The smells that emanate from him should be weaponized. DAMN. Snap is okay-ish. She's uncomfortable and grumpy, but other than that okay. And poor Crackle... this is why Crackle can't go to school. Because he's too allergic[1] to gluten. He's been a nightmare for days. He's been cycling between screaming and laughing hysterically rather rapidly. He's incontinent again. He's completely unable to sit still, even to eat, which he's not interested in doing anyway. Except that he's hungry, and so then the crying... Oh the crying. It's painful.

The school board would not work with us the way we needed. Now, I'm not about to ask that no kid be allowed gluten. There's be riots. No crackers? No sandwiches? No cookies?! OMG! Anyway, that's not reasonable, and I'm a pretty reasonable person. So I asked 
Could the kids (other than mine) could eat in a lunchroom. The way I used to when I was a kid. 
HELL NO. They eat in their classrooms, thank you! 
Um, but my kid is allergic to their lunches.
We'll clean up.
Yeah, I don't mean to be rude, but I highly doubt you have the time or resources to clean it up the way you'd need to in order to make him safe.
We manage kids with peanut allergies just fine!
See, there's a difference. A few differences. 1) My kid won't show any symptoms right away. It'll take a few hours at least. 2) There are no treatments for the symptoms. I can't give him an epipen shot and bang, he's cured. 3) You don't have a kid with a peanut allergy sitting in a classroom in which Every Single Kid is eating some form of peanuts. It's insanity. You don't say, "Oh, you just leave while we all eat peanuts and peanut butter and peanut brittle and pasta with peanut sauce and make peanut crafts. I'm sure we can clean it all up well enough that you don't react". But that's what they're saying to me.

So, no school for Crackle. There are other issues too, but that was the deal-breaker. So now I don't get to pawn him off on someone else for 6 hours he doesn't get the experience of going to school and I get to be a homeschooling Mom to a non-verbal kid with Autism. YAY. Can you smell my enthusiasm yet? No? That's just Pop's diaper.
[1] It's not an allergy. It's an intolerance. But if one says intolerance, people think lactose and "just pop a pill" or "so his tummy hurts a bit. It'll go away." No. This causes physical damage to the intestine that takes weeks to heal. Every exposure increases the risk of intestinal cancer, lymphoma, and secondary autoimmune diseases. Better to say allergy and be a bit imprecise.