Monday, December 14, 2009

Does Blue Cheese Have a Place in The Gluten Free Diet. .

During a recent episode of Dr. Oz, Elisabeth Hasselbeck included blue cheese as a source of gluten containing foods. There is conflicting information circulating around on this subject and I wanted to gather the most up to date information I could find to help you decide if you should include blue cheese in your gluten free diet. A search on the web finds variable food lists where blue cheese is listed as safe on some lists and prohibited on others. I contacted Tricia Thompson, MS,RD author of three gluten free books: The Gluten Free Nutrition Guide, Celiac Disease Nutrition Guide and The Complete Idiot's Guide Gluten Free Eating, for her recommendations. Tricia replied:
Hi Debbie,

This is the statement on blue cheese that Melinda Dennis (Nutrition Coordinator of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess) and I contributed to and reviewed for (Read my earlier post on here):

Description: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines blue cheese as, "characterized by the presence of bluish-green mold, penicillium roquefortii, throughout the cheese." The requirements of the CFR also describe the process by which blue cheese is made. This process begins by placing curds into forms and adding the mold spores of penicillium roquefortii. As the cheese ages the forms are turned and drained. When the draining is complete, the shaped curd is removed and treated with either a dry salt or brine. At this point holes are made in the surface of the curds, and it is kept at a damp and cool temperature until the characteristic blue-green mold has developed. Blue cheese must be aged for at least 60 days.

Blue cheeses include Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Danish Blue and are made from cow's milk, sheep's milk, or goat's milk cheeses that have been injected with mold. The resulting blue veining gives them their distinct flavor. At one time, most blue cheeses were made in caves by injecting the curds with bread mold. Some European blue cheese still may be injected with mold spores grown on bread made with rye flour or a wheat/rye flour mix. Blue cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment including most blue cheeses produced in the U.S. today. Most blue cheeses in the U.S. are not started with a bread mold because it is not efficient or economical.

Gluten-Free Information: If blue cheese is produced through mold grown on bread it is still highly unlikely that it would contain significant amounts of gluten (20 ppm or more gluten). Penicillium roqueforti spores should be purified before being injected into cheese. Furthermore, blue cheese is an FDA-regulated food, and under the agency's Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) if a food includes an ingredient (in this case, penicillium roqueforti) that contains wheat protein, wheat must be declared on the label, either in the ingredients list or in the "Contains" statement. If the spores contained protein from rye this would not have to be declared.

Info Last Confirmed: May 8, 2009

Canadian dietitian, Shelley Case, RD, author of Gluten-Free Diet a Comprehensive Resource Guide. Includes a very detailed article on Blue Cheese with current research on her website. This article was written by Alex Anca, MHSc, RD and published in the March, 2009 issue of the Candian Celiac Association Celiac New. As with all information on the gluten free diet I encourage everyone to make sure you are making your decisions on up to date scientific evidence not out dated information.

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