Gluten Testing, Round 3
From Research Assistant, Alex Leung, comes a write up of the most recent round of restaurant testing.
Food Testing, Round TRES!
We’re back … here at Nima, we like food and we know how hard it is to enjoy dishes when you have dietary restrictions, food allergies, or auto-immune diseases which require a special diet. Thus, we test and gather as much data in a real life environment as we can, so you can trust and believe in our products. As previous rounds of food testing have mentioned, our current target is on gluten – although we’ve been working on other allergens in different ways.
We continue to test for gluten in the same method as previously described. We pick three local food venues, all of which have gluten-free options. We put those food samples through our product, Nima, and the gluten testing kit approved and certified by the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists International (AOAC) called R-Biopharm’s RidaScreen® Gliadin. We record both results (Nima’s binary result and AOAC’s quantitative result) and compare them alongside each other in order to see if the NIMA’s result matches the standard gluten testing kit.
The results show that every sample tested except one meets the definition for gluten free – under 20 parts per million (ppm). Although a couple dishes are below the 20 ppm threshold, people with higher sensitivity could still get sick from eating them.
One of the biggest risks of eating out is cross contamination. As you can see from the chart, Restaurant 1’s and Restaurant 3’s fries have very different results. Restaurant 1’s entire menu is gluten free, while Restaurant 3 has a couple of gf options across a broader menu. In doing so, the risk of cross contamination increases, and ordering a gluten-free option almost becomes pointless especially dealing with deep fryers. Someone with high gluten sensitivity would definitely gotten sick from eating at Restaurant 3.
Another pain point is that servers or chefs do not understand someone’s dietary restrictions. Our entire order for Restaurant 2 was “gluten-free”, yet the cooks made sure we got our “free” side order of bread. When we tested the level of gluten in the bread, it was actually beyond the dynamic range of the standard gluten testing kit. A customer could easily mistaken such bread to be gluten-free since the entire order was “gluten-free.”
This round of testing have shown the dining experience can sometimes be a hit or miss, and while trying out new food can be exciting suffering the consequences of food contamination will always be unpleasant. While you wait patiently for our product, we will continue to work on gathering data and making sure our product meet our standards and quality.