Recently Riega Foods sent me a complimentary box of their cheese sauces to sample. When it arrived I found boxes of Pepper Jack, Alfredo, Yellow and White Cheddar sauces.
I received quick and detailed email back that reassured me about their gluten safety procedures.
"Vanessa, Thank you for the email. To answer both of your emails I will explain our processes and how we ensure our products are gluten free. Please understand that I have family members and friends that cannot eat gluten and I understand the medical issues that can result from unintended digestion of gluten. I started this company with the full understanding of what needs to happen, and we do not just put gluten free on our products because we don't use wheat, rye or barley.
To ensure our products are truly gluten free we test after production every single batch after it has been packaged. We send this to a third party, because they have no interest in the outcome. We use the University of Nebraska FARRP Lab (CSA uses same lab). I have attached a recent report to this email, so you can see. To date, every batch of our finished cheese sauce has come back as below quantifiable levels (5 ppm) for gluten. To me that is the only way you can ever ensure a product is gluten free, whether it is made in a gluten free facility or not. As a note, not all companies test and not all companies with the gluten free logo's on their packages test every batch.
In regards to the product, the final mixing and packaging is done in a shared facility, but as you can see from our testing reports we take steps to ensure their is no cross contamination. The facility itself is a number of small rooms, which contain each individual piece of equipment. Each room can be closed off and once production is finished the entire equipment and room are cleaned. It is hard to explain without seeing the facility, but with our cleaning procedures and testing protocol there is no chance of any type of cross contamination. It is possible that from time to time a machine also handles a product that contains wheat, but again with the setup of facility and cleaning procedures there is no cross contamination. This is not a manufacturing environment like bread, cookies, or something where a machine is difficult to clean at some point. The machines used to mix and package can be broken down 100% and cleaned. Same for the room from top to bottom.
I hope that helps explain all and makes you feel more comfortable. Please understand that we have family members and friends with gluten issues and I take the level of gluten very seriously. It is why we disclose so much about our procedures, testing and environment. Their are ways we could build some gray areas into they reporting system, but I just will not do that.
If you still do not feel comfortable with our products, then I understand. I believe everyone must make informed choices, and I hope that we can help you do that about our products. Please just let me know.
PS. As a side note I had actually posted something about this on a facebook group earlier this morning. You can read it here."
I was really happy to hear that they test their products to ensure safety. And the levels have come back at under 5 ppm - less than the proposed standard the FDA is considering using. This made me feel comfortable trying their sauce mixes.
First, I tried the traditional yellow cheese sauce. Directions call for you to cook 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta and mix. I prefer 1 cup pasta as I like my sauce extra cheesy. Just add some butter and a little milk (or substitute of your choice if you don't eat dairy) to your cooked noodles, and "voila!" Mac and cheese. It was quite good. You could add some mixed veggies, paprika ( I LOVE paprika) and maybe a little red pepper to spice it up, or just enjoy the cheese and noodles on their own.
The other night, I tried the Alfredo sauce and mixed it with some rotini rice noodles as a side dish to my favorite dish - Chicken Piccata. The sauce was creamy, with a hint of garlic and parsley.
These would be great mixes to take camping along with some gluten free noodles, or traveling to a family or friend's house where you aren't sure if there will be something for you to eat.
Another bonus to this is that you can use your preference of pasta. Some of the pre-packaged white rice pasta mac and cheeses are a bit bland to me, so I like to buy brown rice noodles for more taste and fiber.
Riega Foods website lists where you can find their products, and they also have an online store. I've seen these at Whole Foods and Fresh and Easy, and they sell for about $1.39 a package, so they are quite affordable for people on the go.
If you want your favorite store to carry this product, download this form and take it to your grocer to make a request.
Thanks Riega for a convenient... and yummy gluten free product.
To win 4 packets of each kind of sauce, (total of 16 yummy sauce packets) please enter by Wednesday August 31 to enter for your chance to win:
- Tweet and post a link to this article
- Comment on your Facebook page (if you have one) with a link to this article, and;
- Leave a comment on this blog related to this topic
I will randomly choose and contact 2 winners by Wednesday September 7th.
- Gluten Free Chickadee