So I had written a few instagram posts about gluten free baked goods at Gerados in West Boylston, MA. I have done the Nima test on them which all came back with a big smile! They have been offering gluten free items for some time now, however I did have some questions to see if they were deemed safe for those with celiac disease. I reached out to the bakery via email, but hadn’t received a response in a few weeks. I then tried to reach them via facebook and said that I was trying to compile a list of places that people with celiac disease could visit. It took about another 3 days before getting a response asking what those questions were.
Here is a list of the questions that I have been sending not only to this bakery but other establishments in the area. Their answers are below the question:
1.How long has your establishment offered gluten free food?
About 5 Years
2. What was your backstory for deciding to offer gluten free items?
There were a lot of requests.
3..Would you consider this facility safe for those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease?
All of our customers who ask for gluten free are told the items are gluten free but not made in a gluten free environment, so they can decide. (From personal experience, everytime I have ever asked for gluten free items, nothing was told to me that the items are not made in separate area or anything. The establishment has never made it outright known)
4.Have any of your staff completed any gluten-free training programs?
Yes, the owner has (so for me this is just the owner, but I feel like the rest of the staff should be trained in that area as well. Personal opinion only)
5. Does your staff change their gloves without being asked when a gluten free order comes in?
Yes (Again everytime we have ordered gluten free I have never seen gloves changed, and I have to actually request that it be put in a separate box.)
6. Do you have a separate preparation area for the food that people ask to be gluten free?
No (obviously for people with celiac, this is a huge problem)
8. If not, Is there a risk for flour to be cross contaminated with food that is being made gluten free? Aka even if regular wheat flour is being used it gets in the air. Any particles made in the same area as an order with gluten can get on a person’s gluten free food can make that person become ill.
Yes there is always a risk. Every customer with any allergy is warned whether tree nut or gluten that is could of been in contact with other items in our facility. (Again, from personal experience only, I have never been warned or told, granted this could common sense but for those wanting to dig deeper to see how things are made you would ask)
9. Do you share bowls and baking pans for both gluten free items and non gluten free?
10. Why are the gluten free products not in a separate case as they used to be?
As we started making more gluten free products, we could fit them all in one spot.
(Again, personal opinion only… this establishment has always had a large case with two shelves of gluten free items. Then one day, the entire case was gone and combined with that of gluten containing items which does not make it safe for people with celiac disease.)
SO here is my issue, as much as I LOVE this bakery and their gluten free items, which have always tested negative for gluten in their gluten free products, and the fact that I have never gotten sick from their products, the answers to these questions make me very nervous. Like I said above, everytime I have ever asked for gluten free items, they never say anything about how it’s made, or the result of possible cross contamination. I do not want by any means to bash this company or give a negative review but being a person with celiac disease the risk is huge, and I feel as though even those people who eat gluten free because of gluten sensitivity are still at risk. It almost makes me think this would only be good enough for those who are still on the “gluten free fad” or just trying to eat gluten free for no medical reasons. I will reiterate that I have never gotten sick from their gluten free items, but now that I know the high chances of cross contamination, it does make me a little weary.
I hope this interview with the establishment helps those with celiac disease. I also hope that if anyone from an establishment reads something like this realizes how sensitive something like this is to people with celiac. I wish more places would jump on board with how things are made and unfortnatley I understand it is hard to kep up with that with most places.
So the question is will I keep going there knowing such a high risk of cross contamination?? To be honest, I probably will refrain from now on unless someone brings me something from their on occasional visits and then I will use my Nima sensor. I just feel though having celiac disease, we have tob e well aware of what is going into our body and how it will affect our intestinal track even with the smallest amount of gluten!