Issue 138 Free from bites

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Alex Gazzola Freelance Journalist Alex is a writer specialising in food intolerance, coeliac disease, IBS, restricted diets and ‘freefrom’ food. He is the author of five books and regularly blogs at his site: www.

GLUTEN-FREE WHEAT: A STEP CLOSER? In August, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) announced the publication of the most detailed ever genome sequence for wheat. This is the result of an extraordinary combined effort by over 200 scientists from over 70 research institutions in 20 countries that has taken well over a decade. The work’s touted benefits include the future prospect of being able to develop varieties better suited to climate change, such as frost-tolerant and drought-tolerant breeds and improvements in yield, food security and nutritional quality. Inevitably, perhaps, questions have been asked as to whether this so-called Google Map for Wheat might serve as a tool to develop a wheat-allergy or coeliac-safe breed of wheat - and the answer could be encouraging. We have known about the proteins responsible for sensitivities, such as the gliadins in wheat gluten and the ATIs responsible for baker’s asthma, for some time, but what were not previously determined were the genes which encoded these proteins. They are now, thereby opening up the possibility for either new developments in selective breeding, or gene-editing to neutralise toxic gluten and other allergy-triggering wheat proteins, all the while maintaining wheat’s bread-making capabilities. Given the widespread GM controversy, much of this would need public and regulatory acceptance and, therefore, has to be seen as a long-term goal. Shorter term, however, the genome could potentially help shed light on the ongoing mystery of non-coeliac wheat sensitivity.


Two of the largest and most respected free-from brands have both launched wraps onto the market. Warburtons Gluten Free ( went first, with their new trio: High Protein Wraps with Super Seeds, White Wraps, and Beetroot Wraps. The High Protein (17%) Wraps are rich in pea protein, contain rice and tapioc, and are further enhanced with a seed/ grain mix of chia, quinoa, millet and flax. All have launched in Asda, with other retailers to follow suit in coming months and are free from all 14 designated allergens, but carry a precautionary warning for egg. RRP is £2.50 for the White Wraps, £2.79 for the other two. Packs contain four wraps. Swift on Warburtons’ heels were Genius Gluten Free (www., who have launched a pair of Fibre Fest wraps in Beetroot, and in Kale, each with 13% fibre, which is roughly three times that of an ordinary wheat-based wrap. They boast wholegrain flours, including sorghum, buckwheat, millet and teff, and are also ‘14 free’, but with no precautionary allergen labelling. Both are marketed as ‘good for the gut’, thanks to the inclusion of chicory root fibre (inulin), but are, therefore, unlikely to be suitable for some FODMAP-sensitives. Four wraps cost £2.75 from Tesco, Ocado and Sainsbury’s. October 2018 - Issue 138



Tinned ready-meal options, particularly useful for students, campers and festival goers, are tough to find with multiple ‘free from’ attributes, but Free & Easy ( make several options suitable for most restricted diets, and September saw the welcome launch of two more: Middle Eastern Chickpea Casserole, and Sweet Potato Coconut & Kale Curry. Each is vegan, gluten free and free from all EU allergens. Filling, flavoursome and nutritious, they retail for £2.35, from Ocado and independents. Corn cakes may be a gluten-free staple, but they generally struggle to excite the tastebuds. Looking to bring a new taste and nutrition dimension to them is Quinola Mothergrain (, who produce quinoa grains, flakes, kids’ ready meals and other convenience foods. They have just launched Pulses & Quinoa Cakes which are still over 50% corn, but boosted with chickpeas, peas, lentils and quinoa for higher protein. Another product which is free from all allergens. From Ocado, £1.75. I have to confess a weakness for fruit, nut and cereal bars, bites and balls! The Protein Ball Company ( have added to their tasty eight-strong gluten-free protein snack ball range with the launch of a trio of oat-based vegan Breakfast Balls, in apple & blueberry, hazelnut & cacao, and strawberry & vanilla. High fibre and over 5g protein per pack. Handy for morning rush emergencies. From H&B, Ocado and other outlets, from £1.99. A very unusual product launch this - Vegbred. Only currently available online (, it’s a milk, egg and soya-free bread with no gluten-containing ingredients, and made from sweet potato, pulses, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and rice flour. A beautiful orange colour and ideal toasted, it’s an original new addition to the ever-widening array of free-from breads on the market. Gluten grains and nuts, however, are used in the bakery. TEFF TALK

Although a few teff-based products have broken through into the UK freefrom market in the past, they’ve not managed to gain a secure foothold, and this Ethiopian staple remains firmly in the shadow of its now established gluten-free counterpart, South American quinoa, which like teff has a complete essential amino acid profile. Looking to change the fortunes of this tiniest of ancient grains is, a company called Lovegrass, founded by an Ethiopian, Yonas Alemu, who left a long banking career with the aim of bringing teff to a wider European market. His range includes grain, flour and pasta in both brown and white teff varieties, plus white teff flakes and teff waffle and pancake mix. The mix contains egg, but otherwise the products are free from all designated allergens. Prices start from £3.99. See for more information. 48 October 2018 - Issue 138

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY Food Matters Live (www., an annual combined exhibition and conference event focusing on nutrition and health, returns for a fourth year this autumn, running from 20th to 22nd November at ExCel London. Among the standout features are a series of ‘Future of Free-From’ seminars, focusing on the innovation underpinning the future growth of free-from. Topics include emerging ingredients, the role of fortification and functional food, free from in the drinks industry and new allergy research. Registration is free. Speakers include RDs Julie Thompson (The Low FODMAP Diet) and Julia Marriott (Putting Allergy Management into Practice).

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