Are nuts safe for celiacs? Some of you may be reading this and thinking, seriously? Is this gluten free traveller chick really trying to tell me that I can’t eat nuts now? She’s already made me uncertain about my morning coffee and I KNOW that nuts are gluten free. In theory, YES. Nuts themselves are of course naturally gluten free but in my experience it’s extremely difficult to find any which are free from the threat of cross contamination. And if you’re celiac then this is a real concern.
Here’s what led me to write this post..
I was at my local farmers market yesterday buying tasty fruit and veggies for the week and I noticed there were various nuts for sale. I asked the guy selling almonds whether they were safe for celiacs. He told me that they are manufactured on machinery with a whole bunch of stuff and so he couldn’t confirm that they are safe. I told him that I am celiac and therefore can’t risk eating anything which may have been cross contaminated by gluten. His response was “I wouldn’t recommend that you eat any almonds at all” I’m very happy that these lovely guys were honest with me but it leaves me with a problem. Where is a celiac to find cross contamination free, gluten free nuts?
Today I called Target to find out about the gluten free status of their Archer Farms raw mixed nuts. The lovely woman on the phone told me that whilst this product contains no gluten ingredients it was made on shared equipment with gluten containing products. She also said that the company does have procedures in place to try to prevent cross contamination but she couldn’t tell me what those procedures are. ‘Procedures in place to try to prevent cross contamination‘? Is this really the best we can hope for?
It appears that very rarely are nuts safe from possible cross contamination. I know that in Whole Foods for example all of the nuts I looked at carry a label which says ‘may contain wheat.’ or ‘made on shared equipment with wheat.’ Trader Joes have their ‘No Gluten ingredients’ symbol but again this doesn’t mean the product is free from cross contamination. And then what about the places that aren’t openly warning us about this risk? The farmers market I went to yesterday is a prime example. Many of the products there carry no labelling but they may still have been produced in a way that makes them unsafe for us celiacs. I’m sure many celiacs have bought these nuts without even considering possible cross contamination. What are we to do in situations like this? The same could be said for many other products. Dried fruit? Dried beans and lentils? And the list goes on..
I’ve recently discovered that Blue Diamond almonds are apparently produced on gluten free lines to prevent cross contamination. This sounds a lot better. But what if I want peanuts? walnuts? cashews? If you can buy nuts which are still in their shell and crack them yourself then they won’t be contaminated by evil gluten.
Where you do find your nuts? Perhaps you don’t eat nuts or perhaps you’re buying them without knowing for sure? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…