Is it Really Gluten Free….Consumers Beware

Through my travels throughout the US over the past 3 1/2 years I have gained much insight in to this ever developing marketplace called the Gluten Free Industry.  I’ve had the opportunity to develop relationships with many of the manufacturers, distributors and brokers who initially entered the market prior to the Gluten Free Craze. No….I’m not calling those individuals maintaining a Gluten Free Lifestyle a part of the “craze” but more so those new manufacturers that have brought products to market over the past year and a half.

There are two groups which these new manufacturers actually fit in to this market.  Those who have a personal interest since they themselves or a family member or friend has been effected with Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance/Sensitivity or other Allergies or Diseases.  This type of manufacturer is truly setting out to provide a quality product and sharing these items with those in the Gluten Free Community.  However, many of these products which generally are better tasting than preexisting products may come at a higher pricing point, simply because they do not have the ability to buy the ingredients in bulk.  This will drive up the price of these products in stores, not to mention these items may not be easily accessible.  Well not for Strictly Gluten Free as we continue to travel the country to find these new up & coming Gluten Free brands and bring them to our stores first.

The second group which a new manufacturer will fall in to is the “Nouveau Rich” or “Wall Streeter” as this group is only seeking the financial benefits of “possibly” offering Gluten Free products.  I can’t tell you how many times through my travels I have heard that…..”oh our products are GF because all our ingredients are naturally GF”  or ” we are using another companies products to make ours and theirs are certified GF so we are too”.  This is yet another way Strictly Gluten Free will always and continue to separate ourselves from those big boxes who just look for the magic word “gluten free” on packaging which has become a marketing ploy.

During these encounters with such manufacturers it is always fun to kind of put them in their place on determining the validity of their Gluten Free claim.  While we set out to educate even these manufacturers its just a matter if they will tend to listen and actually do the right thing by the GF consumer…..but don’t hold your breathe as its a pure numbers game and they are looking for someone to show them the MONEY.  The whole issue with such new manufacturers products is that they clearly do not understand the CROSS CONTAMINATION that occurs in many ways.

Unlike Big Box stores who solely look for that magic word on the packaging to generate sales for the ever emerging GF market and who select products by those manufacturers who are paying for slotting fees, who can mass produce and who can do it on consignment.  At Strictly Gluten Free we have strict guidelines and follow our core values in selecting a prospective new product to carry in our stores.  When you shop our store and even online you can feel confident that each product has been hand selected and over 95% of the products carried have been personally sampled to ensure quality.  With the most reassuring point being that we select only those products where the manufacturer has either tested their products to be Gluten Free in one of three ways:

  • Self Tested – usually new start-up companies will use this method as it is the most affordable way to ensure the products are guaranteed to be Gluten Free
  • Third Party Lab Tested – Usually you will see mid-sized manufacturers and large companies using this as a way to independently test their products.  Keep in mind as some of the smaller start-ups grow they will look to make this investment
  • Utilize a GF Certifying Body – This is simply the use of a Gluten Free Not-For-Profit Organization’s trademarked logo which is recognized in the industry….here is a secret shhhh….they too use a third party lab to test the products so you just pay for the logo recognition

With the emerging GF industry there are many precautions which you should still take as there are many new manufacturers that not only claim to have developed a GF product by simply saying its ingredients are naturally GF.  We will continue to elect to properly educate all our customers so they can make educated purchasing decisions that will best be suited for them and their families.

As always we thank you for your support in our efforts……..



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Voicing Concerns

There is something we wanted to reach out to everyone about as great an event as the Vendor Fair was this past weekend there was one thing that stuck with me from what someone told me about what they heard about Strictly Gluten Free recently.

As we do strive to accomodate each and every person we do ourselves understand that we will not be able to satisfy everybody and this is why we like to hear any collective criticism from those who shop our store.

This is what someone told me at the fair just yesterday…..They were speaking with someone recently who told them not to shop at Strictly Gluten Free because we charge a fee for entering our store.

At first I thought they were misunderstanding the person speaking about the store and mistaken it for the store in Australia as this is a new policy they recently instituted in charging $5 for entering their stores. This was an article written a few weeks ago about that store. She was emphatic that they told her it was Strictly Gluten Free implementing this charge.

We do welcome collective criticism however we do not tolerate LIES……We have not and will never charge anybody seeking out to maintain a healthier lifestyle just for simply entering our store.

We understand that since entering the market we have taken a percentage of the market that was previously under serviced and those other businesses have not thought to highly of our presence of us in the market. This would not be the first time an attempt has been made to tarnish our reputation and it will not be our last as we will continue to contribute to the community in which we serve and promote Gluten Free Lifestyles.

While we grow and open up new stores throughout Long Island and other cities throughout the country these types of issues will continue to unfortunately occur. We will continue to grow the number of stores, selection, service and of course our family in positively impacting each and very persons life we are fortunate to meet.

We would ask you our very loyal family members to continue to spread our vision of Strictly Gluten Free and letting us know when you encounter those individuals and/or business trying to spread incorrect information for their own personal benefit.

Again thank you for letting me voice our concerns……..

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Back To School ….what to eat

As you all know that it is difficult enough to maintain a Gluten Free Lifestyle in your own home when it comes time to sending your kids back to school what should you do? What do you have to do to ensure your kids are safe while eating in the lunch room at school.

As if life is not already stressful you are now consumed with making sure your kids continue to maintain a gluten free lifestyle in school.  Decision…..Decisions….should you have the school accommodate and prepare the meals that are truly gluten free for your kids or elect to prepare their lunches daily for them to bring to school or…….yes there is yet another option a combination of them both.

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Go for the Gold: Gluten Free Athletes!

For 16 days we watched some of the world’s greatest athletes compete in the 2012 London games. There were so many memorable moments of the games. As someone who swam competitively, swimming was the sport I followed the most. However, the performance of the “fab five”, the American faceoff for gold in beach volleyball, and Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian, are all moments which I will remember as I look back on these games.

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Going Out & Gluten Free…Now What??

As you all know that it is difficult enough to maintain a Gluten Free Lifestyle in your own home when it comes time to interacting in a social environment what should you do? Here are some tips and questions to consider when having a night out on the town.

Tip #1 – Always have a plan…who, what, where, when & how. Who are you going out with, if you expect your friends & family to be accommodating to your lifestyle you have to be aware of their likes and dislikes as well.  What will you be able to eat and feel confident that the meal will be Gluten Free.  Where are you willing to travel to find a quality GF meal.  When will you go out to eat during the dinner rush or during a slower time where it will limit the possibility for cross-contamination. How will you feel confident that the restaurant you choose has a complete understanding on how to prepare a quality Gluten Free meal….always ask as many questions and only then you can determine how comfortable you feel eating at that establishment. Continue reading

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