Sunday, 8 July 2012

Is it really gluten-free?

Hi there! Be warned before you proceed any further with your reading. I'm about to embark on one of my pet peeves - the lack of allergy and content information in foods. The latest incident to trigger of my spiel on this happened yesterday. I was at local food fair, held at one of the malls close to home standing in a long and winding line to buy rice flour cakes, when I overheard a man asking the lady behind the counter if the tapioca pancakes she was cooking on the hotplate were wheat free. Despite the crowds, his question caught my attention as this is an area very close to my heart. We of the label/disclaimer-reading lot would totally understand this guy's query, right?  Not so the lady behind the counter. Her answer was a vague, "Just sugar, water and tapioca flour. Would you like to try one?" Well, the gentleman decided to bite the bullet and bought one. But this brings me to my pet peeve. The tapioca flour used to make the pancakes was probably not certified as being wheat-free. It probably IS wheat-free but without the guarantee of certification. See where I'm going with this? There is a huge grey area here which is a real nightmare zone for those of us dealing with with allergies and food intolerance on a daily basis though a minute by minute basis would be more accurate. We are living it.

Store-bought tapioca pancakes - are they gluten-free?
Much of the local food products in Singapore, while having the ingredients listed, do not carry allergy information.  The ingredients lists can be vague as well. A packet of tapioca flour from the local market, would list under ingredients just tapioca flour, which is fine. Cheap too. But there is no assurance or disclaimers that it contains just tapioca. For that, we have to head for over-priced specialist organic food shops. Even then, the range of products available is pretty limited. This leads to a great deal of frustration for most of us with allergies to contend with in our daily lives, especially when we call home, a real food paradise! Hopefully, this will change soon and we will have a better range of well-labelled food products with all the necessary information at lower prices available at local markets.....sounds like a dream.   

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