Modern Table Meals and the issue of oats


I'm not sure where I first heard about Modern Table meals, but when I saw them at the Whole Foods, I was so excited to find them. These meals in a bag (think Hamburger Helper) are made with lentil pasta and delicious spices. I think I paid $9.99 for it at Whole Foods, but I noticed that Fresh Thyme Stores carry them for $6.99. That's a pretty good deal when some lentil pastas retail for almost $10 a box on their own!

I purchased the Italian Penne at Whole Foods, and was ecstatic when I received the Mediterranean Green Lentil meal in my Taste Guru box.  My husband added sausage to the Italian meal and it was beyond amazing. He added some pre-cooked chicken to the Mediterranean meal. It wasn't as good as the Italian penne, but it was tasty. The flavors were more muted in green lentil dish than the Italian penne.

My husband made both meals on Monday nights when I had to work late. He said they were simple and quick to prepare. The only "downfall" was that both meals contain pasta that is made with oat fiber. Even thought these meals are gluten free, I'm still sensitive to oats. I will admit that I ate both of them knowing this. I still felt bloated the next day, and I've decided that I won't be eating it again.

Since there is now a definition of "gluten free" by the FDA, a definition that does not contain any comments about oats, we as celiacs need to be vigilant. The FDA's defintion of gluten free states-

"In addition to limiting the unavoidable presence of gluten to less than 20 ppm, FDA now allows manufacturers to label a food "gluten-free" if the food does not contain any of the following:
Notice, no mention of oats. Why is this even an issue? Oats are often "contaminated." They get this term because they are often grown and harvested with wheat and barley, as well as processed and shipped together. As General Mills and other companies are using oats, and from non-certified sources, we need to still do our detective work. Even with naturally gluten free grains, there is still the possibility of cross contact in the facility and processing, leaving some "gf grains" higher than 20 ppm. For more on this you can read the study done by Anne Lee, Tricia Thompson et al. 

Tricia Thompson also did testing specifically on oat fiber, and has found only one that tested over 20 ppm, so it should be safe.Therefore, I am assuming that the oat fiber in this product truly is gluten free and my issues were only due to my oat intolerance. But we need to always remember that Celiac Disease is a SERIOUS auto immune disease and we need to make our food choices very wisely. And our safest bet is to always but products with a third part certification logo , such as from GFCO, CSA, or NFCA.

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