So…was the popcorn gluten-free?

For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting word on the Arrowhead Mills popcorn question, I have an update. I finally got around to calling their customer service line yesterday (there was no great rush since I had, after all, already eaten it all).

Photo © Joakim Wahlander | Flickr

Photo © Joakim Wahlander | Flickr

The woman I spoke to—following some appropriately corny hold music—confirmed my suspicion: the popcorn is not made on dedicated gluten-free lines or in a dedicated facility. However, she assured me that they follow “good manufacturing practices” of sterilizing lines between runs, etc. She said that any of their products that have already been found to contain less than 20 ppm gluten would have the gluten-free symbol on the bag, and that they’re working on testing their way through all of their products. They have not yet tested the popcorn.

I asked, “So, conceivably in six months’ time, the popcorn might have a gluten-free symbol?,” but she said she didn’t know and couldn’t speculate on the timeline. Fair enough, because I’m sure the last thing any company wants is some blogger hopping online and posting false promises that, say, all of their products will be gluten-free by 2020. Plus, unless I stumbled across a Time-Turner, it’s not as though knowing their product will be confirmed gluten-free in six months would do me any good.

I wondered why they would test some of their products but not others, and why it takes so long to test everything. Is testing for gluten that expensive and/or time-consuming? Does anyone have any insight into this?

A couple of you commented that most popcorn should be safe. Personally, I’ve noticed some issues after eating popcorn, but there’s a good chance my weary GI tract just isn’t happy about handling large bowls of air- and fiber-filled corn right now. That’s not going to stop me from eating it, but I am going to check around for another popcorn brand. Though the Arrowhead Mills stuff might be safe, I’d feel better knowing the popcorn was either tested for gluten or processed far, far away from gluten. I will still buy other Arrowhead Mills products that say “gluten-free” on the bag, because it sounds like they have their act together.

Since the Arrowhead answer was a resounding “I don’t know,” I don’t really know whether or not to doubt my old air-popping cauldron. It’s been starting to die anyway, so I may just take the road of “When in doubt, throw it out” and get a new one.

On to another kind of testing: this morning I got NINE vials of blood taken out of my arm, to find out if my gut is still gutting itself. (The phlebotomist assured me I still had plenty of blood left in me; I’m not so sure.) As I left the lab, I found myself thinking, “Celiac’s blood…that’s got to be an ingredient in some kind of potion.”

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12 thoughts on “So…was the popcorn gluten-free?

  1. arcavanaugh says:

    You should take an iron pill for all that blood loss. I’ve been wondering if celiac patients should be allowed to donate blood. The Internet says it’s okay, but I’m skeptical.

  2. SStitches says:

    Most Celiacs have trouble with the actual kernel of the corn, but certainly not all because it’s gluten. It’s mostly, as you assumed, because our guts have been taking years of abuse. The kernels don’t properly digest (in anyone!), so they make little pockets of suctioned irritation in the gut. Corn that has been milled no longer has the kernel intact, so cornmeal goes through smoothly. I miss popcorn, especially the nasty cinema stuff, but I know I feel so poorly when I eat it.

    • SStitches says:

      *it’s not gluten.

      • Molly says:

        Yeah, I’ve been thinking it’s more likely that than gluten that makes me feel immediately worse after eating it. For me it’s minor discomfort, not enough to make me give up popcorn! Have you been able to find any substitutes that you can eat without pain?

        • SStitches says:

          I was at the cinema just today and wanted to cry over the popcorn counter. No good substitutes yet, at least nothing that isn’t highly processed. Here, we have these little things called Hula Hoops — they are basically Pringles mashed into little ring shapes. They are not good for you by any stretch of the imagination, but they help with the need to pop something in your mouth while watching a film. My mother found some sort of popcorn chip thing when I was in the States earlier this year, which was made of milled corn. It had the taste of popcorn, but it didn’t fulfill the textural requirements.

          • Molly says:

            Do you have anything like this in your vicinity? Looks like it could be a better option! I’ve tried some milled corn snacks and was similarly disappointed. When I want popcorn, I want POPCORN.

            • SStitches says:

              Ohh, I’ve never seen that. I can try to source it, but corn products aren’t as readily available here. They also have popping sorghum on their site! SO TINY.

  3. Laurie C says:

    Nine vials! That seems excessive!

  4. […] you sick of the Harry Potter references yet? No? Good, because there’s more where that’s coming […]

  5. […] something—like popcorn—should be gluten-free, but doesn’t say it is […]

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