There will be a short pause…

while I glutenate myself.

I’d be more cross but it’s too ridiculous and I’m too tired from being unwell to jump and down too much.  But here it is, a cautionary tale.  I buy a lot of flours from my ‘local’ Asian supermarket (actually online from Bristol, but there you are) and I’ve not had a problem yet with gluten.  I expect to a have a problem with contamination at some point, but as previously mentioned (in a post long ago) superfine rice flour is just not available in the UK any other way.  Neither is sweet rice flour (well Bob’s Red Mill is from one place at four times the price) so I’m prepared to wing it a bit, see if I get sick, take note and move on.  This isn’t ideal but I guess the alternative is not to make certain things, and that’s just not for me.  Part of my coping mechanism is to try and have normal things.  Anyway, I’ve had a whole month of wellness, eating out, travelling around, by being as careful as I can without bringing my own food.  I was therefore ready for a fall I guess, but it is rather galling that I’ve done it to myself.  From British flour, sold in a packet written in my language, from a British website I’ve been using a lot and who I thought wouldn’t do me wrong.  But it turns out it was me that was wrong.  I am the trusting fool.

So here’s how it happened.  I went to said online store and bought a kilo of brown rice flour, from a webpage that says it is gluten-free.  Well yes, brown rice flour is naturally gluten-free but this flour wasn’t actually gluten-free.  A bit like how orange juice is naturally non-alcoholic until you add vodka to it, and then it’s actually not that non-alcoholic after all.  Apparently this subtlety is lost on the store selling the flour.  They confirmed that the flour I had bought was milled and packed in a place that also does gluten grains.  They said if I’d wanted an actual gluten-free flour I should have looked at the photos of the packets, as one of their offerings from a different supplier says gluten-free on the packet.  The fact that the webpages of both products say the same thing, ‘gluten-free’, and are in a section of the website titled ‘gluten-free flours’ is seemingly irrelevant.

So I suggested that to prevent someone else making the same mistake, and also getting sick, they might want to add a note to their product description, along the lines of ‘this product is milled and packed in facility that also handles wheat, barley or rye’ and they refused.  Apparently they are devising a “gluten scale” which they will apply to all their product descriptions.  So customers will one day, when they implement it, really know what they are buying.  I guess until they label which things are zero gluten on their scale we will just have to scrutinise their photos of the packets to see whether the manufacturer is making a claim to gluten-free status.  Their website, however, will continue to say that all their brown rice flour is ‘gluten-free’ because naturally it is.  Even if in actuality it is not.  Please insert your own expletive here.  As for their gluten scale, well I’d really like to know what shape it is, because I’ve got some ideas I’d love to share with them on where they can stick it.

That is all for now.  I expect normal service to be resumed shortly.


2 thoughts on “There will be a short pause…

  1. How frustrating! If they were dealing with a fatal peanut allergy, would they be so laissez faire? You would think they would understand that gluten free is more than just a dietary preference.

    • I really don’t think they get it at all unfortunately. I’ve written to the trading standards office on the off chance there is something they can say or do. But I’m aware that there might not be, because the manufacturer isn’t making any claims the flour is gluten-free, so it’s a bit buyer beware. And also, I’m sure they’re a small independent seller and I don’t want to use a sledgehammer to break the walnut and get them into serious trouble! I’m sure it is out of ignorance rather than not caring.

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