I have to say I had always been one of Bob’s Red Mill’s biggest fans. In the early days when we had first discovered we were celiac and needed to follow a gluten-free diet, they were there. I’d pour through their catalog and think about which flours to try and order. Loved seeing the gluten-free symbol and knowing that I could safely eat their foods.
Bob’s Red Mill (BRM) takes great strives to ensure their foods are gluten-free. They batch test every gluten-free product in their quality control laboratory upon delivery, during production and after packaging. And they have a separate gluten-free packaging division complete with specialized machinery to make sure that their products maintain their purity.
Bob's Red Mill Tests to 20ppm
Bob’s Red Mill tests their flours to maintain that they are gluten-free. Unfortunately, they test only to 20 ppm. And as you know if you’ve read any of my posts I have issues with this 20 ppm, 10 ppm and 5 ppm standards of testing. Who came up with this amount? And how can any ppm be safe for those who must avoid gluten? We as a family prefer to only ingest foods that are completely gluten-free or at least under 5 ppm. Taking in small amounts of gluten on a daily basis has to have some effect on the body. I just can’t see how it can’t.
The Gluten Free RN site tested Bob's Red Mill flour for gluten using the EZ Gluten Test kits and it tested positive for gluten (2 previous tests they had done tested negative for gluten.) The EZ Gluten Test sticks detect the presence of gluten at 10 ppm. BRM maintains that their flours are gluten-free up to 19 ppm. The EZ Gluten test sticks are more sensitive which explains why they showed a positive result. (And I have to add here that I SO wish these test strips were less expensive. I would use them so often and save myself a lot of pain and discomfort!) One terrific website www.glutenzap.com has combined the efforts of the gluten-free community to form a database of foods members of the community have tested for hidden gluten content.
Corn is Also Processed in Same Facility
And one other concern I do have with BRM is that they process corn on the same mills that that they process their gluten-free flours. As we're sensitive to corn, this could be a potential issue for us. But between product batches, for approximately 1.5 hours they clean the machinery using brushes & compressed air. Then as an extra precaution, they process 25 lbs. of product which is not sold before they begin processing and packaging the next product.
Time to Step Up
As I said in the beginning of this blog, I think highly of Bob’s Red Mill and all they’ve done over the years for the gluten-free community and personally, I have a great respect for the company as a whole and how it's being run. BRM line of gf products are usually priced lower than most other gluten-free product lines making them a strong option for those following a gf diet. Even their organic products (and I love that they even have organic options!) are still cost conscious so many can use them. And another big plus - Bob’s Red Mill are one of the few lines that are available in many regular grocery chains. Even Wal-Mart sells Bob’s now.
I would love to see Bob's Red Mill step up and strive just a bit further and continue to be one of the leaders in the gluten-free flour marketplace and produce gluten-free flours that have less than 5 ppm of gluten content. (I just spoke with a representative from BRM who told me their gf flours are often below 5 ppm.)
It's been almost a year since I first posted this blog about BRM. Since then, we've become more sensitive to gluten and have had to stop using their products. I didn't really want to believe it could be the flour that was bothering us, but as soon as I removed it our symptoms stopped.
In a perfect world more gluten-free companies and all products labeled gluten-free would be made on a dedicated line in a gf facility. And even better an allergen-free facility - no gluten, wheat, dairy, casein, soy, corn or nuts. Now that would be a dream!
Additional sources for the gluten-free flours in Celeste's Best Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free Recipes can be found by clicking on the Product tab on the menu bar for the Where I Buy Ingredients for Recipes page of my website.