Friday, March 6, 2015

Cross Contamination of Unprocessed Grains and Legumes Starts in the Field: Answer for Linda

Red Wheat
I have an answer for Linda who asked:

My question is about cross-contamination. I have been purchasing my dry goods (seeds, dried fruit, lentils, etc.) from an organic foods distributor. Their packages have a warning on the label that says "May contain nuts, soy, sesame, wheat, mustard". I have not had an issue over the past several years, but the most recent package had what appeared to be 3 wheat kernels in it. Any recommendations? Most packages I've seen have those sorts of warnings - are there organic bulk items that guarantee no cross-contamination with gluten? Thanks.

Hulless Barley
My research tells me that it would be impossible to prevent contamination of seeds, grains, lentils or other beans, even organic, with wheat or other gluten containing grains such as barley. When I asked my office assistant, who has a degree in home economics, and has been homesteading for decades, she stated the same thing that the government says about contamination. 

Contamination can occur in any stage from planting, to harvesting, to transportation, storage and finally distribution to your house or store. Wheat kernels get stuck in the crevices and seams of the combine, in the augers and semi trailers which are used to harvest other crops. The kernels come loose spontaneously and mix in with the next crop being harvested.  I suspect the contamination rate is even higher if you were to buy grains: sorghum, millet.

I did find a study that examined the rate of contamination of oats with gluten and barley, which should reflect the contamination rate of other grains. One research group analyzed a total of 134 oat samples, collected from Europe, the United States and Canada.This study confirmed that most oats were contaminated with gluten containing grains such as barley, wheat, and rye, mostly barley. (Hernando et al. Measurement of wheat gluten and barley hordeins in contaminated oats from Europe, the United States and Canada by Sandwich R5 ELISA. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Jun;20:545-54.). I don't recommend any ingestion of oats though because they contain toxic protamines, a subject I will cover in a future blog post.  

The way I see it is you are doing the best thing to protect yourself and your family from contamination with gluten containing grains, and that is to get the non grain dry goods in their unprocessed form and organic. And then make a quick inspection for other kernels like wheat, kamut,barley or spelt that may have found its way into the the package that you bought. And remove any offending kernels that you have found. 

Buying organic is important too because of an agricultural practice ( for the last 15 years or so) of "desiccation". Desiccation uses glyphosate to improve the drying time and allows for early harvesting of many grains and legumes. This practice is quite controversial and has been implicated with the increased incidence of celiac disease and 65 other diseases.
Non organic wheat is heavily contaminated with glyphosate as are beets, lentils, sugar cane and corn. 

Find out more about the future of agriculture here where Dr. Thierry Vrain discusses GMO's.

Thank you Linda, writing and sharing. And for working so hard to keep your family well.

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara