I have been gluten-free for the past 5+ years. Some people have been gluten-free much longer, others shorter. Often times we rely on information from product lists or restaurant websites to find what is safe to eat. While these lists & menus are a great resource, it is important to find out how old that list is.
While this seems like common sense, it really hit home when I went to Quaker Steak & Lube this past week to dine with some friends. I was presented with a menu that had last been updated in 2007. I asked to speak with the manager, who assured me that they had one that was more recent, but it was never presented to me. Instead we ended up talking about the marinade for the chicken, a baked potato & steamed veggies. The mild sauce is gluten-free, so I chose that as my sauce for my boneless chicken tenders. The point is that you always have to take the time to speak with the manager. Ask those questions. Do you realize how many times the food supplier is likely to have changed in the past 4 years? Even if the supplier hasn’t changed, have the ingredients changed? We all know that companies love to make their products more marketable by making them “new & improved”, right? Does that mean the addition of gluten in some shape or form?
The same goes for products you buy in the grocery store. Yes, labeling has improved over the past few years, but it is far from perfect. I know that I have Googled “such & such product gluten-free” before only to have information from long ago pop up. Sometimes I find current information, other times I will do the leg work by contacting the company to inquire about the gluten-free status of a product. Occasionally that job is easy, as the information is on the website under “FAQ”, other times I make a phone call.
Maybe one day we won’t have to worry about this, but until then, be your own advocate. Speak up, ask questions, do the legwork. Another important part of all of this is information sharing. If you are on Twitter or Facebook, make sure to let your friends and family know. We can all help each other on this journey to safely eating gluten-free.