TellSpec: Revolutionary Device for Celiacs?

Every once in a while, I stumble upon something in the crowd funding sites.  This time, it’s on the IndieGoGo site.  It’s a campaign for something called the TellSpec.  That doesn’t really tell you much.  Especially anything about why it might be revolutionary for Celiacs.

Try this on for size:

You want to know what’s in your food before you buy it, before you order it, and before you eat it – because your health depends on what you eat.

Many foods contain chemicals and allergens that we want to avoid. But it can be difficult to know whether these chemicals and allergens are in your food or not. How can you tell if your food contains the nutrients you need? What about things like sodium, gluten or trans fats that you might be trying to avoid? Food labels can give us some information if they’re available, but they are not always intelligible and some ingredients may not even be reported.

We have invented a system called TellSpec combining a spectrometer and a unique algorithm to tell you the allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, and ingredients in your food.

It’s small enough to fit on a keyring.  It communicates with your cell phone.  You push a button, it uses it’s spectrometer to get a reading off of the food, then sends that reading to a server.  That server puts the reading through it’s database, and returns a list of ingredients based on that reading.

TellspecPotentially, you could take a reading off of the food you’re about to eat at a restaurant, and know, nearly instantaneously, whether it contains any gluten.  If it delivers on that, it really would be revolutionary for anyone with Celiac Disease.

Of course, it will depend on just how sensitive it really is.  It can find the gluten in a slice of whole wheat bread, but can it find the gluten from a cross contamination?  Can it determine if the soup you’re about to eat was thickened with flour?  Can it tell you whether the seasoning on your steak contains gluten?  If it’s sensitive enough to do those things, it will truly be one of the most revolutionary things to happen for Celiacs in years.

Right now, you can contribute to the campaign and receive a TellSpec before they’re made available to the public.  It requires a $200 contribution, and only until about 195 more of the $200 contributions are made, then it will be going up to $250.  I didn’t see anything that indicated how much the price would be once it was available to the public.


Dr. John J. Zone MD – GIG Education Conference – Fargo/Moorhead 2011

Dr. John J. Zone M.D.
University of Utah

Skin Manifestations of Celiac Disease

Starting off by polling the crowd on different skin disorders and whether they are related to Celiac or not. Seems to be quite a few who likely have DH (Dermatitis Herpetiformis), but maybe don’t know it.

Auto-immune diseases “travel in families”, if you’ve got the genes for one, you may get other auto-immune diseases that are in the same “family” of auto-immune disease. You may not have Celiac, but may have a thyroid disease. About 20% of Celiac sufferers will have thyroid disease.

Over a lifetime, women eat pounds of lipstick. What you lick, you swallow. What you breath in, you swallow. Shampoo; there is no evidence that gluten in your shampoo will affect you, through absorbtion. Unless you have a sore or lesion in your scalp. Gliadin is too large to be absorbed through the skin.

Don’t assume that it can’t be transferred however. Anything that hits a mucous membrane is likely to be absorbed. So, transfers from shampoo to hands to mouth, eye shadow that gets in the eye, etc, can be absorbed and could affect you.

HLA and Celiac Disease

90% of CD and DH patients express HLA DQ2
9% express DQ8

1 in 3 people who were self diagnosed Celiacs, were tested and did not have the gene, and could not have had the disease. (From a study of 69 people Dr. Zone tested in his lab)

It’s a lifetime disease, take the test and be sure.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

DH is a cutaneous manifestation of cd that is best diagnosed by identifying granular IgA in dermal papillae. All DH patients have some degree of CD and DH patients are likely to reflect the entire spectrum of histological and clinic CD in adults.

*Editors note. I had an appointment to keep, so had to leave the conference a bit early, and so missed the latter few minutes of Dr. Zone’s session as well as the last session of the day. Once I get a bit of time, I’ll be doing some quick articles on some of the vendors (new good food!) and on the conference overall.

Another Chef Gets Gluten Wrong

This time, at least, it’s across the pond and has little chance of poisoning you while you’re in a restaurant in the U.S.A.  Well known U.K. chef, Anthony Demetre, while on a morning television show doing a demonstration Gluten Free recipe is asked what the reasoning was for the gluten free meal.  Here’s his response:

Direct Link to YouTube video should  the embedding not work for you.

Someone from the Celiac London group spoke to Phil Vickery, another U.K. Chef and an Ceoliac U.K. food advisory group and got the following response from him:

After seeing Saturday’s BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, and receiving emails I have to make the following comments.
It just goes to prove that this awful disease is still looked on as a joke and in a very flippant way in the certain areas of the cat…ering industry, that frankly, really should know better.
This sort of ill informed advice or statement coming from a well respected chef sends out the totally wrong message. It also magnifies, just how little is known and more worryingly how much these guys actually care about Coeliac disease in the restaurant environment.
It should be compulsory for all young chefs to undergo basic training in all areas regarding diseases and allergies, sadly until that happens, we are going to have to put up with the sort of moronic comment time and time again.

Phil Vickery
Coeliac UK National Food Ambassador
10th April 2011

I couldn’t agree more.  It’s one thing to poison people with Gluten maliciously, like we saw Damian Cardone do, but this just reeks of poor education on the subject.  Here, we have a chef, who is supposed to know more about food than most of us will ever hope to know, who seems to be unknowingly poisoning himself because he doesn’t know any better.  Sad really.  I hope that Phil Vickery or someone in the U.K. Ceoliac community has reached out to him and is going to help him and educate him on the subject.  For him, it’s a matter of life and death.  Not to mention all the people who watched that show or have spoken with him or his doctor on the subject.  Which brings up another subject.  That of doctor education.  I’m still surprised, almost daily, by the lack of knowledge of such a widespread disease by those in the medical community.

Education, education, education.  We need so much more of it.

Educating the Community

In light of the Damian Cardone fiasco, I thought it was time we revisit the education part of The Gluten Free Life.  One of the most important things that a newly diagnosed Celiac can do is to educate himself/herself on what that really means.  There’s a great deal to learn about what you can and cannot eat, and all the funny names that gluten can hide behind. But, no matter how much you educate yourself, it’s clear that you still have a lot to watch out for.  And, even then, you end up getting gluten’d by people like Damian Cardone.  Which is why your education efforts don’t end with yourself, or even your friends and family.  You’ve got to attempt to educate your entire community.

Let’s start at the beginning.  You’re planning on going out to eat at a local restaurant. Don’t wait until you get to the restaurant to find out if it will be safe for you.  If you can, do it days ahead of time. Not every trip will be scheduled that far in advance, but, try to give yourself at least an hour or two.

  • Start by looking online to see if they have a website.  If they do, see if you can find any information on allergy/dietary needs or (if you’re really lucky) a gluten free menu.
  • If they don’t have any info online, call ahead, before they’re busy and discuss your visit with the chef.  You’ll likely get some wonderful advice on what you can and can’t have while visiting the restaurant.  Avoiding discussing it at the table while everyone else is trying to order will help avoid any annoyance on the part of the wait staff, and the chef.
  • If you have days before the event, offer to stop in and visit with the Chef.  You may be surprised with how many times you’ll get taken up on the offer.

Taking steps to keep yourself safe, while doing it ahead of time, and in a respectful way, can help other celiac sufferers too.  The more positive experiences that chefs have with gluten free diners, the less likely it is that they will develop an attitude towards gluten free diners like that of Damian Cardone.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if the restaurant that you’ll be visiting is one that is local to you and that you will likely be revisiting again, the more important it is to develop a relationship with the chef and staff of that restaurant.  Putting in a little time here and there to help educate them can give you a safe haven dining spot where you know that, not only is the staff attempting to deliver food that is safe for you, but that, because of the education help they’ve received from you, they likely will deliver food that is safe for you.

Additionally, many of the gluten free and celiac organizations offer educational materials and classes to help educate people, and the staff of food service companies like restaurants.

Celiac learning is an offering by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.  They have great courses for both food service professionals and medical professionals.

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) also has a wealth of information on their website, including a training/education program specifically for restaurant workers.


CNN Eatocracy Takes on Gluten

The CNN food blog Eatocracy has a semi-nice post today about gluten and what a gluten free diet is.  I say semi-nice because it doesn’t seem like there can be an article from a serious news organization that doesn’t have some modicum of inaccuracies or where it doesn’t seem like they are taking it lightly despite it’s affects.  That being said, most of the article does come across as being a serious article with some nice facts.

Celiac disease on the contrary, is an autoimmune disorder with intense gastrointestinal symptoms – like cramping and bloating – among others. When people with Celiac disease eat foods with gluten, it damages the villi of the small intestine wall – thus, preventing basic nutrients of food from being absorbed.

Simple avoiding bread doesn’t do much good. Gluten pops up in surprising places, including soy sauce, sausage, lunchmeat, some instant coffee, soups, sauces, and even Communion wafers. Sufferers often need to go to extreme measure to avoid encountering it – hence the uptick in gluten-free products, cookbooks and restaurants.

There’s also a poll at the end of the article where they’re polling your proximity to the gluten free lifestyle.  Take it, and show thank them for taking what can be a very harmful (and deadly) disease seriously.  Now, if only we could get most of the doctors to do the same…

Stubb’s Barbeque Sauces Certified Gluten Free

Stubb’s Barbeque sauces recently announced that they’ve gotten their full line of sauces certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization and will start having the seal on their labels on shipments beginning July 1, 2010.

Stubb’s all-natural barbecue sauces are available in Original, Spicy, Mild, Smokey Mesquite, Honey Pecan and Hickory Bourbon. Marinades include Beef, Chicken, Pork, Texas Steakhouse, Moppin’ Sauce and Wing Sauce. All the flavors are gluten free and use cane sugar rather than corn syrup for sweetness.

“The average consumer won’t taste any difference with the gluten-free reformulation, but those who eat gluten free will love our sauces, rubs and marinades as much as our long-time fans,” Koegler said. “Stubb’s is truly a sauce line that everyone can enjoy.”

It’s exciting to see yet another mainstream product take the effort to make their product Gluten Free and go through the certification process.  As always, make sure you buy a few bottles to support their efforts.  Dropping them a line or email doesn’t hurt either!

Delight, Gluten Free Magazine

There’s a new magazine on the block for those of us who have to eat Gluten Free (Or those that choose to).  It’s called Delight, Gluten Free.  From the looks of it, it’s going to be published quarterly with recipes and articles.  All for only $14.00 a year.

From the description on their website:

Check out this amazing new magazine! Delight gluten free is a fun food & lifestyle magazine for people with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance and food allergies. It hosts delicious gourmet recipes and easy semihomemade as well. Don’t miss the Gluten-Free Meals on a Budget either. Whatever your food allergy you should be able to find something that fits your household, in their February issue they offer gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free and even some rice-free recipes. Not only that, this magazine has a travel section coming in May that will host lots of fun ideas and good advice for when you venture out on the road. Personal stories, inspiring articles on Autism, Q & A with the Doc are among the other features of this magazine.

Sounds like a pretty good magazine to check out.  As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s hard to find good quality recipes and info.  But it’s getting better!  And magazines like Delight are a great resource for all you Celiacs out there.  You can subscribe by visiting the Delight Website: and then just click on the Subscribe Now link.  I’m going to.

We Support - Support Gluten-Free Food Labeling



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