Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kosher for Passover can mean gluten-free but read labels

It's nearing Passover, which for folks like myself who live near a large Jewish community, means that the Kosher for Passover items are hitting the shelves. Passover for 2008 begins at sunset on Saturday, April 19, and runs 7 days until April 26.

During Passover, observant Jews avoid chametz -- any food that's leavened and/or allowed to ferment or rise. That means no yeast, baking soda or powder, but also anything made from wheat, spelt, oats, rye and barley, such as pasta, cereal and beer (unless it is made with matzoh.) Matzoh, matzoh meal, and farfel are, of course, entirely off limits because they are made with wheat flour and are a major source of gluten.

However, some manufacturers make potato starch-based products that are matzo- and gluten-free. Many kosher manufacturers even label their potato starch-based mixes as GF. However, you still must read the ingrediants label and decide for yourself whether you want to chance it.

For example, I found a kosher-for-Passover frozen pizza at my local grocery store. It was clearly marked "Gluten-Free!" and I rejoiced.

However, I flipped over the box and read the ingrediants. After potato starch, sugar, blah, blah, blah, the label specified modified food starch.


Modified food starch can be wheat-based and, in my experience, is often contaminated with enough gluten to cause a major reaction. I skipped the pizza. It's not worth the risk or the tummyache.

I did, however, find a KfP cake mix that I'm dying to try and will report on.


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