Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Menu info from NFCA

Turkey Talk
By Christina Gentile, NFCA Volunteer Staff Writer
As the holiday season quickly approaches, many of us are beginning to plan our special dinners. The menu needs to be thought out carefully to make sure that everyone on the guest list has their dietary needs met. For those with celiac, that means no gluten. Many of us may use traditional recipes for the main course such as a turkey or ham. Preparing and cooking the actual turkey or ham may be no problem. However, the challenge lies in purchasing the right meats.
To add flavor, some manufacturers inject basting solutions into their turkeys during processing and these solutions may contain gluten. As for the ham, many are basted with a glaze that contains wheat starch or use a gluten containing flour "rub" to seal in moisture during packaging. Unfortunately, this means that manufacturers may take something that is naturally gluten-free and turn it into a product that is a source of gluten. Therefore, celiacs must proceed with caution.
The best advice I can offer is to ALWAYS read the ingredient label! Sometimes, the label may have "gluten-free" indicated somewhere on the package. However, it isn't always that plainly presented and you will have to do a little more investigation! For example, if one of the ingredients is "modified food starch" or "malt extract" find out what the specific source is—it may be a modified corn starch or a corn malt extract, which would make the product gluten-free, or it may be a modified wheat starch, which would make it not gluten-free. Furthermore, do not purchase turkeys that come pre-stuffed because the stuffing mixture most likely contains gluten. Also, be careful with the use of gravy packets that accompany turkeys because these may contain gluten as well. If you have looked over the ingredient label but are still unsure, I recommend calling the manufacturer before buying. They are the best source of information regarding the product and they can provide the specifics about the ingredients, how the product is made and if cross-contamination is possible in their facility.
I researched which manufacturers sell gluten-free turkey and ham products, and contacted several companies to get confirmation. The following are companies that carry fresh or frozen turkeys and hams that are gluten free.
Butterball: Butterball Fresh Turkey and Butterball Fresh Breast of Turkey are all-natural and contain no added ingredients. The gravy packets that come with some Butterball Turkey products contain gluten and are indicated on the gravy packet label.
Honeysuckle White: The All Natural Whole Turkey, Fresh Bone-In Turkey Breast, Frozen Whole Turkey, Frozen Bone-In Turkey Breast are gluten free.
Jennie-O: Jennie-O Prime Young Turkey—fresh or frozen (the gravy packet contains gluten), Jennie-O Turkey Oven Ready Turkey Breast (the gravy packet contains gluten).
Empire Kosher Turkey Products: Empire Whole Frozen Turkey, Empire Frozen Turkey Breast are gluten-free along with many other products. To see the complete list, visit:
Perdue: According to Perdue, "All fresh, minimally processed chicken and turkey whole bird and parts, (legs, breasts, wings and giblets) are gluten free" To see the complete list, visit:
Honey Baked Hams: According to their website, "they have reformulated their glaze to be considered free of allergens. This means their hams and turkey breasts do not contain gluten.
Dietz & Watson Meats: Nearly all of their meats are gluten-free. To see the list of their few products that are NOT gluten-free so you can avoid them, visit:

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