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A Storm in a Tetley Teacup

4 Apr


Long term readers of Gluten Free by the Sea may well remember my blog post about Tetley Green Tea being contaminated with gluten.  At the time this caused much shock and surprise in the coeliac community, and after it made me ill I have avoided it since.  Last week I was tipped off by Kim at Coeliac Delight that the problem may at last be resolved.

I followed this up with Tetley who have come back with this response today:

“I have spoken with our Compliance and Regulatory Team who can confirm that the accidental cross contamination is now resolved.  This means that we have found the cause and worked with suppliers to prevent any reoccurrence and we have eliminated any affected tea from our Supply Chain.

We have now removed this warning from our packs and these are filtering through the distribution system although there are still many packs in the market place and on shelf that do carry the warning so, at the moment, it would be better to check packs as you buy them.”

So it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I checked stock in my local Sainsbury’s last weekend and they still carried the warning.  Please be vigilant and make sure you check packs before purchasing, but the good news is that new boxes of Tetley Green Tea hitting the supply chain will be gluten free.  Note, the previous issue affected all blends of Tetley Green Tea.

Thanks to Tetley for the update and for getting this sorted, and to Kim for letting me know.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Guest Post: Living Gluten, Dairy and Lactose Free

19 Mar

Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2011 I have become increasingly aware of other food intolerances.  One of the more common intolerances I come across, other than gluten of course, is those who have issues with dairy or lactose.  Many coeliacs have problems with lactose in the early stages after diagnosis, and this is well explained on the Coeliac UK website here.

Being well aware that there are many Gluten Free by the Sea readers who are dairy or lactose intolerant as well as being gluten free, I was keen to be able to offer some extra advice on the subject.  So a huge thank you to Emma Louise Huthchinson of Love Free From (formerly Love Lactose Free Life) for accepting my invitation to share her wisdom with you.  Some of you may have met Emma at either of the last two Coeliac UK Plymouth Group events, or the Christmas Free From Food Fair at Ivybridge last year, which she helped to organise.

Over to Emma…

About Me!

Profile pic Coeliac UK AGMHi I am Emma of Love Free From, a small online retailer selling an extensive range of the tastiest freefrom chocolate and treats. My little business was created in 2011 after I had given up lactose, dairy and gluten for medical reasons. In 2011 I also gave birth to our little boy who has been lactose intolerant since birth.

Avoiding gluten for medical reasons is a life time challenge. One that gets easier over time but you never have a break from. I am lucky that I have not been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. However, I have been blood tested several times as I show very similar symptoms when I consume gluten to Coeliac sufferers.

I am still undergoing my diagnosis journey. For the past 6 years I have visited my GP surgery numerous times, seen several dieticians, a gastroenterologist and an immunologist. I have been told I have a virus, acute urticaria, asthma, hives, IBS, stress, anxiety, lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity. Most medical practitioners don’t believe there is anything wrong with me and I am fighting for my symptoms to be acknowledged. What I do know is that when I eat certain foods I have symptoms. These range from heartburn and reflux, nausea and brain fog, bowel problems and stomach cramps, aching joints and back ache to itchy skin and eyes, rashes and migraines. Most of these symptoms have gone after removing not only lactose but dairy and gluten from my diet.

On the bright side I love food. Even avoiding dairy, lactose and gluten I still love food. I love to cook, I love to bake and I am a complete chocoholic. It made sense to me to specialise in seeking out and selling allergen free chocolates to anyone who would otherwise miss out.

The Free From Industry

lovefreefrom logo all golden

Being involved in the freefrom industry has put me in touch with some of the most supportive people I will ever meet. Through social media you can discuss symptoms, diagnosis, recipes and eating out. You can even just chat knowing that other people understand your daily routine. It also gave me the fabulous opportunity this year to be a judge at the Free From Food Awards (winners to be announced end of March, ).

Eating with multiple food allergies, intolerances or illnesses is tricky but really follows the same principals to eating avoiding one food source.

Top Tips for Eating Freefrom

  • Read labels – religiously
  • Write a list of allergen names and sources – my list went shopping with me to begin with so I had a reference while reading labels
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – cafes and restaurants should know what is in their food
  • Research places to eat out before you get there – even give them a call ahead of time to ask questions while you both have time to think
  • Challenge yourself to eat more variety – try foods that you might not have tried before as your tastebuds will change and you will benefit from the variety in your diet
  • Make your own version – take normal recipes or watch baking programmes and have a go at making it suitable for you and you may surprise yourself
  • Enjoy making new contacts – there is nothing better than finding a new friend or company who understands your food needs.

My favourite products

There are some fantastic companies making dairy free, lactose free and vegan products which also exclude gluten and other allergens. Of course chocolate is my first love. You can find all my favourites on our website.  For even more I love reading and following the Free From Food Awards,

Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Breakfast –

Udi’s Granola, Whole Earth Cornflakes

  • Lunch or dinner –

Warburtons Seeded Wraps, Tesco own garlic and coriander naan – makes a fab quick pizza base (lightly toast before topping and cooking), Venice Bakery pizza bases and flatbreads used with Mozzarisella Rice cheese – bring on the pizza

DS Gluten Free Crispbreads,

Pure Spreads

  • Milk Alternatives –

Lactofree – extensive range of real dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream) without lactose, great for our little one who is solely lactose intolerant and not dairy allergic

Alpro, KoKo, Good Hemp

  • Pudding and Ice Cream  –

Booja Booja, Swedish Glace, Co Yo, Razzle Dazzle Ices, Bessant and Drury, Pudology, Food Heaven, Lazy Day, Glamour Puds, Salcombe Dairy Sorbets

There are so many fabulous small companies that will have products suitable if you ask. We feature as many as possible on our blog. To name just a few check out these delights (please check all products with the producer for suitable flavours/variations):

  • Belinda Clark Confectioner
  • Raw Nibbles
  • Honeybuns Bakery
  • Ilumi
  • Portlebay Popcorn (sweet and salty only so far)
  • Rossinis (salts, marinades and flavouring)
  • Clives Pies
  • Pulsin
  • Hannah Banana Bakery
  • Munchy Seeds


My Coeliac Journey – Two Years On

27 Oct

Well first of all, let my apologise for the recent blog silence.  I have just had one of those periods when everything has gone wrong, one after another and unfortunately life has had to take over for a while.  Major works at both our house and our rental property, sick cats and working away have featured heavily and it’s been all go.  I’ve not had the time (or the money!) to focus on blogging.  Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m hoping normal service will be resumed soon!

During this period of silence, the second anniversary of my endoscopy, and hence eating gluten free, quietly slipped by.  Some of you may remember my blog post accounting my diagnosis and the experience of my first year living gluten free.  Year two has been much less dramatic and really quite mundane in comparison, and to be honest I thought what’s the point in writing about year two if there’s not much to say?  Then I thought to myself you know what, how much would I have given to have considered coeliac a bit mundane two years ago?

Feeling Perkier, and perhaps a bit rounder in the face...

Feeling Perkier, and perhaps a bit rounder in the face…

So here are some of my thoughts on year two, if only to show the newbies that it does get better.  Firstly, the year has passed without a major glutening.  I really regard this as a major achievement to go a whole year with no slip-ups.  The only problem I can remember having, is some minor symptoms which I put down to some contaminated draft cider whilst out.  This has obviously made a huge difference to both my physical and mental state.

It’s worth saying that I haven’t led a sheltered life to achieve this.  I’ve eaten out regularly and tried lots of great new foods.  I tend to stick to quite a small pool of restaurants when eating out though to be honest.  I’ve got my favourites in both Plymouth and London and I know I can eat at these places with confidence.  I think I’ve learned to handle the awkward questions better when I eat somewhere new though, and have some places on the list to try in Plymouth that I hope to be bringing reviews of in the next few months.

So overall it’s been a year of feeling pretty healthy.  No brain fog, no joint pain and I feel I’m getting close to where I should be.  I know others struggle so don’t want this to come across as smug, but I hope those struggling can take comfort from the fact that if you work hard and are determined at living strictly gluten free, then living with coeliac disease doesn’t have to be a constant nightmare.

I think that this year I’ve lost that feeling of being a freak.  I have immersed myself deeply into the coeliac and gluten free community via social media, and you guys really are like my extended family.  It is such a comforting feeling to know that you’re not alone, and actually there are loads of us in the same boat.  I thank each and every one of you for helping me feel this way.

Gluten free has of course gone more mainstream in the past year and this has undoubtedly helped too.  I may well have banged on a bit about gluten free pizza on this blog, but the fact that chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut have come on board really has helped to give a feeling of normality.  Being able to join in on the work pizza runs for example, it’s great to feel included instead of having to sulk in the corner with your packed lunch.

One thing I have done this year is learn to say “no thank you”.  I no longer feel the need to constantly explain myself, or the urge to tell someone being nice and offering you a piece of cake to $%@# off!  I am now able to just smile and say no thanks without feeling the need to give the person offering a ten minute lecture in coeliac disease.  Of course there is still the odd occasion when this is necessary!

Through running Gluten Free by the Sea and being part of the gluten free community on Facebook and Twitter, I have managed to find so much (largely locally produced) gluten free food that I no longer feel like I’m missing out.  Maybe I’ve just forgotten what wheat filled nasties taste like, but I’ve lost that constant hankering for a sticky bun or similar.  There’s great gluten free food out there, and I feel so much better so why worry about it.

Gluten Free by the Sea has grown over the year, and this has also led to me being invited to join the committee of the Coeliac UK Plymouth Voluntary Support Group.  It has been highly rewarding being able to help people through these mediums and it is not lost on me that I would never have done anything like that pre-coeliac.  I firmly believe getting diagnosed with coeliac disease has helped me come out of my shell and grow as a person.

Two failings of the year following my one year post though are my failure to make that first trip abroad, and I haven’t really pushed myself enough in developing my cooking skills.  These will have to stay on the list of goals for year three.

I realise, and am very grateful for, the fact that I only need to avoid gluten.  My thoughts are always with those who have to battle multiple allergies and intolerance, and I hope during year three things will get better for all of us.  For those who are newbies or simply still struggling I hope you can find your “normal”, your “mundane” soon.

Finally I just wanted to say a big thank-you to my wife, Abby, my family and my friends.  You’ve all worked so hard to understand and be accommodating and it is appreciated.  Others are not so fortunate.

Thanks for listening.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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