James Miller - Coeliac Diary


Friday, September 28, 2007

Gluten Sensitivity: a Many Headed Hydra


This article appeared in the BMJ.

It's a good article.

My worst symptom was chronic dandruff, but my hairdresser didn’t realise there was a link until it suddenly went when I went Gluten free. It disappeared in perhaps four or five weeks.

He now looks at all his clients differently.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Food Manufacturer’s Policy On Gluten


I know nothing about the preparation of food.

But I do know a lot about eating it and I’ve spent a lifetime marketing products of one form or another.

I am also a coeliac, which means I can’t eat wheat, barley or rye, so out goes bread, beer and pasta for a start. Studies show that one in a hundred of those in the UK are coeliacs. So if you include partners, children and parents, we are one of the biggest minorities in the UK, especially as the disease is no respecter of race, colour or nationality.

So it is in a manufacturer’s interest to take note of those, who need gluten-free food. Just as it is also important, that they look after those who through a lifestyle choice want to be vegetarians.

But needing gluten-free food or nut-free food for that matter is more important, as accidental ingestion can cause illness.

So what should manufacturers do :-

1. There should be a list on the company’s web site that shows what allergens are contained in their various products. Cadburys have this on the front page of their web site and can’t be faulted.

2. Products must be clearly labelled. These labels should also be readable by your average seventy-year-old, as for example coeliac disease is often not diagnosed until later life.

3. Products must contain a contact address and phone number.

4. Products should not contain gluten, where it is not expected. For instance, there are many products that contain gluten because it is in the wheat sugar used in the product for convenience.

5. Gluten free should mean gluten free and not the level defined in the Codex. Many coeliacs have been caught in this way.

6. Product formulations should not change from gluten-free to containing gluten without a warning label.

7. Products manufactured and sold in different countries should have the same formulation.

Does your company have a policy on gluten? And if so, how many of these points are currently in force?


Food Manufacturers


It’s funny, but the older I get, the more I trust certain companies and the less I trust others.

After my spat with Proctor and Gamble, I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them. Mars are on that list too, as no matter how I try I can’t find the information I want. On the other hand you have Heinz, Kettle and Cadburys, who are always honest. It’s the same with restaurant groups. Some you trust and some you don’t.

I think that if I ran a company, then honesty and openness would be the best policy, whether I was a coeliac or not.

After all, we may think being a coeliac is serious, but I wouldn’t want to be allergic to nuts.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gluten Sensitivity: a Many Headed Hydra


This article appeared in the BMJ.

It's a good article.

My worst symptom was chronic dandruff, but my hairdresser didn’t realise there was a link until it suddenly went when I went Gluten free. It disappeared in perhaps four or five weeks.

He now looks at all his clients differently.


Getting Militant


Seriously though, coeliacs must get more militant. When something like an article in a newspaper turns up, hi-jack it.

Other interest groups do it all the time. There was a poll for the greatest Mancunian and it was won by Morrisey from The Smiths with over 60% of the vote.

I won't comment on that poll, except to say that Joule was the greatest Mancunian.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Black Farmer


We bought some of his company’s sausages from Sainsburys last week and ate them last night.

They were excellent, although they are very meaty and exceptionally filling.

But they were some of the best GF sausages I’ve ever tasted.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Familial Hypercholesterolaemia


The Times today runs an article titled, Screen babies to ensure early detection of high cholesterol, say doctors.

This is a good idea, but the disease affects only one in 500.

I am a coeliac, which means that I am allergic to the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye, so no beer or bread for me. It is not a serious disease for me, but it does lead to increased levels of cancer if undetected.

Serious studies have shown that one in a hundred of the UK population are coeliacs.

I was not diagnosed until I was 56, but I would not have suffered a lifetime of small medical problems, if such a blood test had been available when I was a baby. Incidentally, my doctor at the time, Dr. Egerton White, tried to diagnose the reason I didn't thrive, but the medical knowledge available meant he was unable to.

Now sticking to a gluten-free diet, I feel younger at 60 than I did at 50. I also have no migraines, stomach problems, skin problems and dandruff, gallstones, joint pains and many other ailments caused by undiagnosed coeliac disease.

A simple blood test would improve the lot of many.




Crunchies used to be made in the old Frys factory near Bristol and were very gluten-free then.

I just checked on the Cadburys site and you can bring up a list (long) of all their products that are gluten absent and suitable for coeliacs. Crunchies are still there. It’s an odd list though and I suspect it’s more to do with which factory they are made in rather than the ingredients.

If so they are taking cross contamination into account.

For instance, small Dairy Milks are GF, but the standard product is not.




I read a post on the UK-Coeliac List, this morning and tried to find out whether Mars is gluten-free on not from the Mars web site.

It is the worst consumer web site, I’ve ever seen, where there is virtually no information and nowhere to write to or contact the company.

It just amazes me that you were able to find out the product is not gluten-free. Incidentally, I looked at one of their bars in Waitrose today and there is no information on that either.

I’ve avoided their products for some years and I think it was a good decision.

I've written to them and I'll be interested to see if I get a reply.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Food Additives


A Professor on Victoria Derbyshire's program is right when he says that some food manufacturers will see removing additives as a marketing advantage.

I’m a coeliac and you can see a pattern with food manufacturers over gluten. Some are honest and you can trust what they say. With them gluten-free means absolutely no gluten. Others are dishonest and hide nutrition information, so that you need a magnifying glass to know if it will poison you. They also hide behind standards that allow small amounts of gluten in food.

It’s funny but the successful, open and health-conscious ones are all in the first group. The others are renowned for the products you’re talking about today.

Unless legislation is passed, there is a class of food manufacturer, who will pass off absolute rubbish as food. Unfortunately, they will fight to the last.

Did I hear Turkey Twizzlers?