Letters for Prepared Products
Elaine Gottschall, in Breaking the Vicious Cycle, gives us the information we need to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet 100%, giving us the chance to take back our life and heal from our irritable bowel diseases. She points out the importance of making food from scratch as a way to make sure the ingredients are pure and contain no trace illegals. Sometimes when a person says the Diet isn't working for them, our experience has shown it can actually be traced back to a small amount of something illegal that they were unintentionally ingesting. This is more likely to happen when you eat foods prepared by others - either well-meaning friends and family, restaurants, or food manufacturers.
For the first several years of being on the Diet I was on ane email list serve with people on the Diet. We asked our questions, shared our successes and learned more about the Diet in cumbersome "reply all" emails. Elaine was watching over the Long Island List Serve, commenting as needed and providing new information. She has taught all of us the fact that food manufacturers are not legally required to list trace ingredients in their products, so we need to be fairly suspicious and assume that prepared products are not compatible with the SCD since they can contain hidden ingredients.
As a way to be sure about a prepared product, Elaine said we should get a signed letter from the company, on letterhead, stating that the individual product in question contained no "illegal" ingredients before trusting it. Over time the Long Island List Serve determined through letters that certain products were safe: Martinelli's Sparkling Cider, Welch's regular purple and white grape juices, Tropicana orange juice with no vitamins added and Dole pineapple products. I started using them and have continued to this day, although I personally have no letter from these companies and time has passed since then.
Since Elaine passed away there have been two cultural shifts that have affected us. One, our entire nation has had a paradigm shift in the way people eat. The desire for fresh food, local sourcing, and short ingredient lists, the rise in serious allergies, and strict special diets of all kinds are now the norm. What an amazing change has taken place! Food manufacturers have scrambled to understand these changes and update their products accordingly. For the first time they're having to deal with consumers who could have terrible reactions to trace ingredients. Meeting the challenge, many companies are clearly labeling their products, not because they are or are not required to, but because their customers demand it. This still doesn't clear the way for us to eat everything that looks legal but it does make it easier for us to trust what we read and make a choice about whether we want to give a product a try. (I recommend waiting until your symptoms have subsided before trying a new product.)
The second cultural shift is the "paperless office" where writing a letter on letterhead is moving toward being an archaic custom. The face of most companies is now their website, where they often provide many details about the manufacturing process and ingredient lists of their products. They often provide a way to contact them where we can still write and ask our questions, getting an email response from a company representative. It's a big deal to provide this information as they could be legally liable if it proves to be inaccurate and someone is harmed. True, there's no law stating that websites and emails have to be accurate, but good business demands it in the same way good business demanded that letters written on letterhead had to be accurate.
In the spirit of recognizing these cultural changes and also wanting to help people make the Diet as easy as possible to follow, my site shows a few products with legal ingredients that I have carefully tried and found to cause no issue with my highly-sensitive-to-illegals body. On this page I want to list the products and provide any written letters, email letters, or available website information that I have.
Title for the section below.
Read an interesting excerpt about labeling law from a website (2003) concerned with strict kosher food preparation which has a similar interest in trace ingredients to the SCD.
Kosher labeling law article
"Some other examples of incidental additives are the following: A release agent, which helps food separate from equipment that it might otherwise stick to, would probably be exempt from an ingredients label because it does not playing any specific role in the food (although from a kashrus perspective its presence may be relevant). Residual product from a previous run is occasionally mixed into a different product in a new run. Such residual product would qualify as “a substance that has no technical or functional effect” in a food. Airborne particles of whey powder, although in per million, can nevertheless be present in a food. Manufacturers of chocolate, for example, have voluntarily made dairy declarations on non-dairy chocolate because of concerns for allergen reactions. Labeling laws do not require such declaration because the whey powder is present at “insignificant levels” and has no “technical or functional effect” in the food. (The dairy or non-kosher status of equipment, important in an evaluation of the kosher or pareve status of a food, is totally outside the FDA’s universe of concern). Exemptions for trace additives such as these are likely driven more by practical considerations than out of a desire to protect food manufacturers’ trade secrets. It is unrealistic to require food manufacturers to include all of these possibilities on a label."