SPONSORED POST: Family with Celiac Disease Creates A SAFE Source of Oats

The story of how this family with celiac disease created a Gluten Free Oat Manufacturing company is truly amazing. It gives hope that high school projects really can turn into something bigger than anyone could fathom. You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

In the beginning…  Seaton and Jill Smith were married in 1985. Forrest was born in 1988 and Alyssa was born in 1992. The Smiths were living the American dream for the first few years. Until 1990, when Forrest became very ill at just 2 years of age. Jill and Seaton took their sweet boy from doctor to doctor, and no one could give them a reason as to why he would fall asleep at the dinner table, want to be carried all the time and just didn’t behave like the typical 2-year-old.

Finally, Jill was advised by a nursery caretaker that Forrest should be seen that day for his distended stomach. The Smiths were sent to Denver Children’s Hospital and after a week in and out of treatment, Forrest was diagnosed with celiac disease. Over the next 10 years, Jill and Seaton were both diagnosed with celiac disease, along with 15 members of their extended family, on both sides, being diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.

The family slowly adjusted to the gluten free way of life, relearning what foods were ok to eat and what foods needed to be avoided. Back in the 90’s, the only way to find out information on celiac disease was by attending local and national support group meetings. Fast forwarding a few years, the couple moved to Jill’s hometown of Powell, Wyoming where they decided to plant their roots and raise their family. The family was very active in the church, community, and local gluten free support group. Forrest was involved with FFA (Future Farmers of America). Little did they know that this participation in FFA would change their lives.

FFA gave Forrest an assignment while he was in high school to create an entrepreneur business. The assignment required a speech to be given on what the business would involve and a demonstration on how the company would accomplish this task. Forrest didn’t even have to think about what he wanted to do. He knew right away that he had always wanted one of his grandmother’s homemade oatmeal cookies. Because oats were known as one of the four grains that have gluten that people with celiac disease must avoid, Forrest was never able to eat oatmeal. Research was starting to come out of Europe finding oats as being gluten free but the cross contamination in the field and equipment that processed the oats made them too high in gluten to be tolerated. The actual oats were ok to eat if they were uncontaminated.

Saige Albert (right) presenting Forrest Smith (left) in 2008 the State Star in Agribusiness Award for his project

For the FFA project, Forrest purchased a table top flaking mill. He found a source to supply a bag of groats. He spread the groats out on the kitchen table and picked through them very carefully, removing any seeds which contained gluten and would make him sick. After separating the groats from the gluten containing seeds, he put the clean groats into the mill and rolled the groats into flakes. He then had his first taste of homemade oatmeal. He learned when he didn’t get sick that it worked! To start out, Forrest sold the gluten free rolled oats to the local celiac support group and the following year he sold the gluten free rolled oats to support groups around the state of Wyoming.

The FFA project was a tremendous success when Forrest earned the State Star in Agribusiness for his project. But, Forrest didn’t feel like he was done with this project. He felt like it could go so much farther. Seaton and Jill were on board. Even Alyssa was on board, being the                                                                                             only “gluten eater” in the family.

The Smiths soon realized there were so many others who could benefit from having gluten free oats in their diet. They hired their first employee in 2006 once they found an oat mill that could process their raw oat seed. The internet became available to the general public at this time, and Forrest started shipping gluten free rolled oats after contracting a field of oats from a local farmer.

In 2011, they were able to work with their town officials to apply for a grant from the State of Wyoming to build their own oat mill. GF Harvest, originally known as Gluten Free Oats, was the first dedicated gluten free oat mill in the United States and is the only oat company in North America that is owned by people with celiac disease. They developed “purity protocol”.

To this day, the Smiths personally walk each oat field that they allow in their mill. This creates traceability from planting to package. The Smiths have every combine and storage bin certified by the Wyoming Seed Certification Service prior to use. They personally test every truck load of raw oats before it enters the milling process. After the oats are processed, the products are tested for gluten again with re-verification by an independent lab. Making sure each bag of oats comes from their certified pedigree Non-GMO seed stock and is processed in their certified GF facility. 98.7% of all products test below 5 parts per million of gluten. Blending and averaging is not used at GF Harvest.

GF Harvest now proudly carries the following certifications: SQF Level 3, Certified Gluten Free, Non-GMO, USDA Organic, and                                                                                                        Kosher.

Knowing how dedicated the Smith family company is to your safety, are you comfortable using anything less? Taste the difference. Their oats have a FRESH ROASTED FLAVOR that can only come from a steamed, shelf stable product. The other oat products that say they are gluten free should be contacted and asked if they use purity protocol. They should also be asked if they mix or blend their products to get the testing results they are looking for.

Please call us with your questions at 307-754-7041, whether it’s about the company, product information or your GF diet. We would be happy to help you any way we can. We are not in the business of trying to capture the gluten free market. We are in the business of providing a superior product for people who need a “trusted” gluten free product. And you don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy our products either. GF Harvest is “Faithfully and Ferociously Gluten Free™”, Since 2003.

To learn more, click HERE.

GF Harvest is having an exclusive sale on their ever popular and extremely convenient GoPacks, which (like all their products) can be purchased on Amazon or the GF Harvest website. Enter code LIVEGF17 when you buy a 10-pack case and pay only $1.39 per pack through 11/15/17.

Canadian Celiac Association Advises Against Gluten-Free Cheerios

gluten-free cheerios

In spite of General Mills releasing five varieties of gluten-free Cheerios in Canada this summer, the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) recommends that “people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity DO NOT consume the gluten-free labeled Cheerios products at this time because of concerns about the potential levels of gluten in boxes of these cereals.”

But oats are gluten free, right?

Oats are naturally gluten free but they are highly susceptible to cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains such as wheat and barley. This can occur in the fields, during harvest and while being transported. For oats to remain gluten free, they need to be grown and processed very carefully to maintain separation, thereby preventing cross-contamination.

The CCA website endorses three brands of gluten-free oats that are grown on dedicated fields then harvested, stored, transported and processed in gluten-free facilities. “These companies have demonstrated to independent parties, trained GFCP [Gluten-Free Certification Program] auditors and GFCP technical personnel that both their processed oats and finished products meet Health Canada’s standard for gluten free and are safe for individuals with celiac disease,” according to the CCA

The oats used in gluten-free Cheerios are not kept separate from field to factory. Instead, General Mills utilizes mechanical technology to sort regular commercial oats from wheat and barley. The CCA has concerns about this method, saying “It is very difficult to remove gluten-containing grains from oats using optical and technical technology alone because barley and wheat are similar in size, shape and color as oats. Broken kernels present in the grain also add to the sorting challenge.”

Concern over hot spots

The CCA’s scientific advisors also have concerns regarding so-called “hot spots” of high contamination in the mechanically sorted oats. Gluten contamination in-oat is not distributed evenly through a batch, and questions remain about what this means from box to box and the ability to detect contamination.

“Based on the information provided to date, our scientific advisors are not convinced that the testing procedures described by General Mills are sufficient to detect these contamination ‘hot spots’ in the oats and oat flour or in the boxes of cereal that may contain contaminated oats,” says the CCA. As a result of uneven gluten distribution in a given batch, “some boxes of cereal in the market may be safe for people with celiac disease while others contain significant gluten contamination that has not been detected using current testing protocols.”

General Mills’ stance

When contacted, General Mills offered their assurance on the gluten-free status of the Cheerios. “We are confident our Cheerios that are labeled ‘gluten free’ meet the gluten-free standard in Canada, which is less than 20 parts per million of gluten in the product,” Mike Siemienas, Manager, Brand Media Relations for General Mills, wrote in an email. “At General Mills, food safety and the health of our consumers is our top priority. We perform extensive testing of our Cheerios products throughout production to ensure they meet and exceed Health Canada’s standard.”

In their published notice, the CCA states they are “receptive to evaluating any additional information that General Mills is willing to disclose. Until then, the CCA stands by its advice that people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should not consume Cheerios products in spite of the gluten-free claim.”

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