Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is Rice Dream Gluten-Free?

First of all, let me say that I'm so glad you found this post because many, many, many people seem to get confused with Rice Dream and its gluten-free status.

Here is the information.

Gluten Is Not an Ingredient, But It Is Used in the Processing
A barley (read: gluten) enzyme is used during the processing of Rice Dream. The barley (gluten) is not an ingredient. When the Rice Dream is done being processed, the barley (gluten) enzyme is thrown away. Again, the barley (gluten) is not an ingredient.

A Small Amount of Gluten May Remain in the Final Product
The Rice Dream company (Hain Celestial Group) states that "the final beverage might contain a minute residual amount (less than .002%) of barley protein." [Source: Rice Dream website as of July 18, 2008, click HERE to read]

So...we know that there could be "less than .002%" of gluten in your box of Rice Dream. But what does that mean?

The Math
0.002% = 0.00002 = 20/1,000,000 = 20 parts per million ("ppm")

Okay, so we know that your box of Rice Dream may contain "less than 20 parts per million" of gluten.

But . . . Is That Gluten-Free?
Well, it is and it isn't. It depends on your definition of "gluten-free."

DEFINITION #1: If "gluten-free" means FREE OF GLUTEN, as in "NO GLUTEN," then, NO, Rice Dream is NOT gluten-free.

DEFINITION #2: If "gluten-free" means "less than 20 parts per million of gluten," then, YES, Rice Dream IS gluten-free.

The Government's Definition
Currently, as of July 18, 2008, there is NO Federal definition of "gluten-free."

But, the Government has proposed a definition of "gluten-free." On January 23, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition proposed a definition of "gluten-free" [Source: 72 FR 2795, click HERE to read]. In its Proposed Rule, the FDA proposed that a product could be labeled "gluten-free" if it had less than 20 parts per million of gluten. (The proposed rule includes other criteria, but since we are talking about the Rice Dream issue, I will only discuss this one.)

So Is Rice Dream Gluten-Free or Not?
According to the FDA's proposal, if finalized as is, Rice Dream would be considered to be "gluten-free" even though the company knows and publicly states that there may be barley (gluten) in the product. According to the FDA, the Hain Celestial Group would NOT be "misbranding" their product if they called it "gluten-free."

But Here's the Problem . . .
Simply put, that "less than 20 parts per million" of barley (gluten) may be too much for your child. Indeed, many, many parents across the country have reported (on online forums) that their child does react negatively to the residual barley (gluten) in Rice Dream. Specifically, they note things like diarrhea and regression.

So, What Should I Do?
YOU need to make the decision of what you do next, based on the definition of "gluten-free" that YOU want to use in your house.

If You Are Using Rice Dream Now . . .
If you are currently using Rice Dream and are not seeing the progress on the GFCF diet that you had hoped for, or if you are even seeing regression, you might be witnessing the power of what 20 parts per million of gluten can do to our kids. A wise course of action at this point would be to completely remove the Rice Dream from your child's diet for a specific period of time (1 week? 2 weeks? a month?) and see what happens. If you start to see improvements, then you have your answer. Go find a different milk substitute.

If You Are Not Using Rice Dream But Are Considering It . . .
If you are not currently using Rice Dream but are thinking that you want to give it a try, then please keep good notes of when you introduce it into your child's diet and keep track of what reactions you see. Again, if you notice regressions, or if you see some improvements but a few months down the road feel like you're not seeing what you want to be seeing, try removing the Rice Dream and see what happens.

Next Steps
I truly, truly hope this was helpful and easy to understand. PLEASE link to this post from your blogs/websites if you think others might find it useful.

In the meantime, I will try to find out the current status on the FDA's Proposed Rule, and when it becomes a Final Rule, I will post about it and will do some sort of analysis on what it means.

To see how a definition can impact the information you receive from a company, click HERE.


On May 29, 2009, I re-checked the Rice Dream website. It still says, "Although Rice Dream Beverage is processed using a barley enzyme, the barley enzyme is discarded after use. The final beverage might contain a minute residual amount (less than .002%) of barley protein."


Hetha said...

Being brand new to the gfcf diet, I found this to be extremely helpful. My son (2.5) has been drinking Rice Dream for well over a year and cannot tolerate soy. There were no alternatives to Rice Dream in my community until I moved to a city. Now I can buy Pacific and other brands. Great post!

Our Family Is His said...

I called the company and it seems none of their products marked "gluten free" are actually free. My son was on their Almond milk and it says "gluten free" on the bottom left hand side. But after hearing this from a friend, I called about the Almond milk. They said "it says Gluten-Free on the box" I told them I understood that, but I wanted to know if it was truly gluten free, meaning no gluten products at all in the milk. She told me no, there was barley in the product (though not on the ingredient list at all, no where on the box at all).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I had avoided Rice Dream in the past because it listed barley, but the new packaging doesn't so I thought it would be safe. However, I've been having DH outbreaks since I started having it on cereal a couple mornings a week. This would explain it.

Mae said...

I was glutened by Rice Dream

Even though Hain CLAIMS their rice beverage product is gluten-free, it is NOT. Since I changed from So Delicious coconut milk to Hain’s Rice Dream rice milk I have had increasingly horrific pain in my upper right flank, low-grade fever, terrible fatigue, and horrible diarrhea for the last six months. My body was acting like I had been glutened. I have spent months trying to figure out what I was eating that had gluten in it. The answer was: nothing. Apparently, I was drinking it.

Two days ago, I did a Google search for “Rice Dream rice milk gluten” and found many celiac forums and Celiac Disease experts cautioning against this brand of rice milk. Many people have written online in celiac forums about how they react badly to Rice Dream rice milk. When I started using Rice Dream rice milk, I had checked out Hain’s website to make sure that Rice Dream was gluten free before purchasing it. They said it was.

They lie – and the FDA allows this lie.

Hain uses a barley enzyme in the beginning process of making the milk. Hain is lying when they say on their site: “Is Rice Dream Beverage a gluten free product? Yes. Although Rice Dream Beverage is processed using a barley enzyme, the barley enzyme is discarded after use. The final beverage might contain a minute residual amount (less than .002%) of barley protein.” They state that they use it and then “throw it out.” But apparently it is still in the rice milk no matter what they say because I have reacted strongly to it. In fact, once the barley enzyme is in the rice milk, how in the world can it be separated out?

Hain also says that any gluten that might be in their product is below the FDA threshold of 20 ppm. But the problem is that the commercial tests for gluten contamination have some difficulty detecting hordein (the type of gluten protein found in barley) when the hordein has been broken down into smaller pieces or protein fragments.

It is also possible that there is not enough residual gluten left in the product for testing to detect (at least not with current tests), but there is plenty of gluten in Rice Dream rice milk for our bodies to detect it and be damaged by it, especially in people who tend to be very sensitive to even trace amounts of gluten.

More and more people do not trust the Rice Dream beverage – and they do indeed react like I have reacted. In fact, I drank the Rice Dream rice milk long enough to do further damage to my duodenum. It could take months and months to get over this glutening episode.

One would think that Hain would be more concerned about the dangers of gluten (and celiac disease) and not sell products that are made with anything that ever contained gluten. I will never buy Hain’s rice milk again or any of their products for that matter because I cannot trust them. And I will join others in spreading information all over the internet about the gluten dangers in Rice Dream rice milk.

Please do consider what I have said and do not trust what Hain claims their rice milk to be (gluten-free) because it is not. In fact, check out the statement I just found on the Rice Dream EU website:

The FDA is as much to blame for my glutening as Hain is. The FDA is too lax in what they allow in gluten-free products. 20 ppm is way too high for many Celiacs like myself. Celiac Disease is serious. A teensy tiny bit will make some of us truly suffer. Printing gluten free on a product that has even a smidge of gluten can be toxic for someone like me.

I have been off the Rice Dream for 2 days. Already the pain is subsiding and I am feeling a bit better.

I am so angry at Hain, I could spit nails!

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DISCLAIMER. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. I'm just a mom who has been implementing the GFCF diet since October 2007 (and soy-free about 5 weeks thereafter). Please do not rely upon my blog as your sole source of information or advice. I only offer my personal experiences for your consideration and can not be held responsible for any adverse reaction or experience you or your child may have should you choose to try something I have tried. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for mine may not work for yours.