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Amy's "Gluten Free" Foods Might Not Be So Gluten Free
10 Replies
January - June 21

For anyone on a strict gluten free diet, I want to share my experience with Amy's foods. They make products that say GLUTEN FREE across the front labels. READ THE ENTIRE LABEL (especially the fine print on the back) no matter what claims are made. Apparently the government does not have "gluten free" clearly defined - and I sometimes have trouble with food that claims to be gluten free. Now I am adding Amy's gluten-free foods to my list of foods to avoid because, IMO, it's not really gluten-free.

Recently, it's been hard to get my usual brands of gluten-free frozen dinners (mainly Caesar and Kettle Cuisine), so I've been eating "Amy's GLUTEN FREE" frozen dinners. I slowly realized I had the typical symptoms of a gluten exposure - severe joint pain, extreme fatigue and exhaustion, insomnia, nightmares, brain fog, depressed mood and feeling overly "full." I finally realized I must somehow be getting gluten and double-checked my food supply.

I was at the store, looking at Amy's frozen dinners - the rice lasagna and the mac and cheese that scream GLUTEN FREE across the front. I turned the package over and, in very small print, that I couldn't read without glasses, a disclaimer says "this product is made in a factory that also processes WHEAT, SOY, TREE NUTS AND SEEDS." That means the food could be contaminated with any of these products. WHEAT IS GLUTEN. Wheat... IS... gluten!

I AM ALLERGIC TO WHEAT - THAT IS WHY I DON'T EAT GLUTEN! So I started checking ALL the other Amy's foods that I've used, including the enchiladas that I've been eating recently, and Amy's "gluten-free" Indian meals, Palak Paneer and Mattak Paneer, that I have in my freezer. I can't eat them too often because I don't feel well afterwards. I thought it was the spices. Now I wonder if it may be cross contamination with wheat! ALL these dinners have the disclaimer on the back in small print. ALL of the Amy's frozen dinners that I have seen are potentially contaminated with wheat. So, even though they say GLUTEN FREE, they may NOT be gluten free.


IF YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE, or are very sensitive to wheat, you should know that Amy's "Gluten Free" foods might be making you sick. For a celiac patient (and 99% of you are undiagnosed) 1/8 of a teaspoon of wheat can set up an inflammation in your small intestine that can take a couple of months to heal.

If you are trying to maintain a strictly gluten free diet as I am - perhaps we all have to call our congress people and the FDA and demand truth in advertising. Companies are jumping on the bandwagon to sell "gluten free" products because there's money to be made as people become aware of the health problems caused by gluten.

But how can they advertise "gluten free" and still have "some" gluten!!? THIS IS RIDICULOUS!! It's not a problem for people are gluten free by CHOICE, and do not have allergies. They're paying extra money for nothing. But it is NOT FAIR to those of us who MUST avoid gluten to stay healthy! We're paying extra to avoid illness - and it's making us ill anyway. JMO, but that is a scam!

So, some of you may THINK you've been on a gluten free diet - when you really haven't. It's not like we have a wide variety of packaged food to choose from! I've had the same problem with so-called "gluten-free" rice cakes - they made me sick. One company told me the government allows 15 parts per million of gluten in foods that are labeled "gluten free." Your reaction depends on how sensitive you are.

I hope this helps someone else out there.

 

January - June 22

I regret posting the above rant before I had all the facts. I called Amy's and they were extremely responsive to my concerns, and seemed very knowledgeable about gluten and other allergens. They told me that although their packages have the paragraph about the food being made in a factory that processes wheat, etc., they are very careful to wash equipment down and to also test their products to ensure they do not contain allergens. So they don't consider that a disclaimer. They asked for the lot number on the food packages I bought and told me they would have the lot sample tested for gluten. They also will let me know the results. As they said, it's to everyone's advantage that their food is what they say. They are committed to providing food for people with allergies of various kinds, and also committed to using non-GMO food.

After speaking with them, I was VERY impressed with this company, and their willingness to respond to my concerns. I have never before experienced this level of customer service with "large" food companies when I called with complaints.

I wish I could take my post down but I can't. Something triggered a reaction in me, and I don't have the facts back yet, but I want to reiterate that the people at Amy's were absolutely wonderful about working with me, very helpful. My attitude about this company has turned around and is very positive right now. There may be some reason for my reaction other than Amy's food - or it may be some strange spice I can't tolerate - I don't have an answer yet - but from speaking with them today I do believe they are doing a very good job of running a clean factory and producing safe foods that are free of the allergens they say. The people I spoke with were knowledgeable and committed. So I WOULD recommend trying Amy's products if you have allergies - and if you have a problem, please call and tell them. They really have outstanding customer service!

 

Jocelyn - June 22

Hey, everyone can make a mistake. It is nice to see you did check into things and things are being check into. It is possible that they are having cross contamination, but don't know it. Once they do the test they will be confirming for themselves what kind of job they are doing. Hopefully, they will find they are doing a great job.

Keep us posted.

 

January - June 28

Thanks Jocelyn! They said they'd get back to me in about a week or two, so still waiting to find out. Meanwhile, the grocery store that is closest to me has dropped a lot of the gluten free packaged food I depended on. I think they aren't selling a lot because they have it badly placed - on very low or very high shelves. Someone mentioned to me that's because the food producers have to pay extra to have their food placed in the middle shelves where people will see it. Of course! This makes me so frustrated because I've sent friends to this store - and they said they couldn't find the gluten free food! The store is being dumb, I think, because they would sell a LOT of it if they'd just place it where it would be seen!

 

Jocelyn - June 30

Hi January,
I am so curious to find out how the test come out. Your right, the store should be placing it correctly. Perhaps you can mention to whomever you are talking to that, stores or not displaying this item because of the cost of putting them in a better place. Perhaps they could look into or will be willing to pay a little more to sell a lot more of their food! I'm just afraid, gluten free is going to go away or become so high priced, difficult to pay for. The more they sell the price can come down and that would be nice for the people who really need it.

 

January - July 1

The grocery store I go to the most has completely dropped the "good" gluten free brands - which, for me, were Caesar's frozen pasta dinners and Kettle Cuisine , which made chili and soups. It now has replaced everything with ONLY Amy's foods. Amy's is one of the bigger manufacturers allergen free food. I'm glad they have Amy's food. However, Amy's food does NOT agree with me. I read the ingredients over and they use cilantro in a lot of their frozen dinners. Cilantro is an herb that you either love or hate (it's genetic). I happen to be one of those who can't stand the taste of it. So perhaps, if it's not gluten contamination, it's the cilantro that is bothering me. In any case, I'm done shopping there, and I will let them know.

 

Jocelyn - July 6

Do you have a "Whole Foods Store" near you? They are expensive, so I only pick up select items that I cannot find in my grocery store.

 

January - July 8

There are a couple of other stores here that have a few gluten free foods - each one carries a couple of different brands. So I will just have to drive around and do extra shopping. Wegman's has a couple of the brands I can tolerate. My problem is I don't cook much - so I need to have frozen microwave-able food on hand. There is not a lot of that out there!

It sounds crazy, but if you buy a package of frozen vegetables (any major brand) it will probably have gluten in it! I know this because I went through a long period of calling the companies before I bought anything. I'd be standing there with a bag of frozen broccoli and the company would tell me there was gluten in the "sauce," or else it was processed in a factory where it could be contaminated with gluten!

I have to buy fresh produce - which is really healthier in the long run - but it means more frequent shopping, and of course, it doesn't store for very long.

 

Jocelyn - July 9

I understand you not cooking much. I am lucky my husband does most of the cooking because he is home first :) I do buy fresh produce, but like you say, it doesn't store well, so one can only buy a little at a time. I go to the grocery store on my lunch hour to pick up goods I need so that's helpful. I do not buy frozen dinners for myself because I have a lot of problems with spices that they put in the foods to spruce up the flavor. Some of them I am allergic to. I usually eat a very plain breakfast containing a gluten free cereal, that is made from corn, I cannot eat any wheat etc. with Rice Milk, then at lunch I have yogurt and and orange or banana, then a full dinner with sweet potatoes, chicken, and a fresh veggie whenever possible. I couldn't do it without my husbands help. I am too tired when I come home from work.

Have you found anything that helps your fatigue? I know how difficult that is. I have been ill this week. I caught a small cold from my son, but it just wrecks havoc on my system. I am exhausted from it. I hope to feel better this week. If there is no improvement by Tuesday, I will have to call the doctor. In then end, my immune system doesn't kick in and things linger so much longer than they should because infection sets in.

Stay well

 

January - July 10

Since I have been gluten free, my immune system is 100% improved! I was sick a LOT for most of my life - a cold meant serious bronchitis every time, needing antibiotics to prevent pneumonia. I have not had that for several years now.

However, just getting a little gluten (or other allergen) gives me insomnia and fatigue. Maybe it's aging and lack of exercise too! Yes, I have done a lot of research on fatigue and tried lots of supplements. I have let my regimen slide a bit because I have been too tired lately - but when I take all the things I should, I do feel better. I did a lot of research online at several sites and matched up my symptoms with supplements. The ones that kept coming up again and again were the ones I tried, and I did one at a time and kept a notebook to see if it worked. It was too tricky to take any kind of supplement combination.

The sites I liked were The Vitamin Shoppe and Life Extension. But there's a lot of information out there - it's just that you have to take the time to sort through it all. Then you really should research the safety of each supplement, side effects and interactions if you take any meds. Start with a small dose and see if you can handle the supplement. Just know what you're getting into. There are a lot of things that help with fatigue. Exercise is probably the best thing, and it's the hardest thing to do when you're tired!

Here are a few supplements I've taken: DHEA, Ubiquinol, SAM-e, Ginseng, Gotu Kola, gingko biloba, huperzine, vinpocetine, malic acid, magnesium threonate, sublingual Vit B-12. (And I like caffeine, no apologies, I do OK with it.) Of course, it's also good to take a daily vitamin/mineral supplement - one of the good brands, not the cheap stuff. It's better to take capsules than tablets, which are harder to break down and absorb. And fish oil - I like the Nordic brand.

But all of these need to be carefully researched. For example fish oil can thin your blood, so if you have any kind of problem with blood clotting time, you need to check with a doctor. DHEA is a hormone, and some people are against it. I take 10 mg. Some sources say 25-50 mg is OK for older people. Some sources say don't take it at all, too dangerous! So you have to educate yourself and/or talk with your doctor - and know you may be risking a reaction. One other thing that I found really helped with energy level was acupuncture. It wasn't an enormous help, but it was some help.

Hope you are feeling better! I'm really tired! But I'd rather be tired than have a cold!! They are miserable. Ask your wonderful hubby to cook you some good chicken soup with onions and garlic..? Reminds me, I don't know if you watch Dr. Oz. I was not a fan of his earlier shows - but since he had his cancer scare, it seems he has really opened up to alternative medicine (it's different when you're on the patient end of things!) and he has a lot of good information about supplements and food lately!

 

Jocelyn - July 10

Hi January,

Thanks for checking in. Believe it or not it is Tuesday and I am back at work and feeling pretty well. For the first time in umpteen years this sore throat and runny nose did not develope into a full blown chest and sinus infection. Symptoms started to go down into my brochular tubes, but then it just stopped and I am left with a mild cough and a little post nasal drip. I'm not sure what helped this visus not turn into an infection with my history, but I will say, I have been on the gluten free diet (although cheated a bit) and am taking the flaxseed oil. I am hoping that this combination has helped my immune system to fight off things like what I just got. I was so sick and tired on Saturday, I expected a long recovery, but I bounced back quickly by Monday. So, I am on the right track, as they say and I have to stay there.

I haven't had to take anymore caffiene to get through the days, I've been doing okay and sleeping pretty well at night.

Things are looking brighter, so take care of yourself too!

 

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