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How can you classify “gluten free” with “particular” or “faddish eaters?” (“Picky, picky: ‘Particular eaters’ make Shabbat meals tougher,” June 16).

People who have been medically restricted to gluten-free diets have been diagnosed with a very serious autoimmune disease called Celiac Sprue, and must follow this discipline for the rest of their lives. If not, they are susceptible to many life-threatening diseases. One in 133 Americans has this disease and most are currently undiagnosed. There are no medications available and therefore no pharmaceutical advertisements to educate the medical profession and the public with information about it.

Author Sue Fishkoff and your cover illustration trivialized it by putting it in the category of an “optional” food choice and showed ignorance and intolerance for those afflicted with it. Presently it has become more widely known because testing for it has been perfected and doctors have been more aware of its frequency in patients with digestive disorders, severe osteoporosis, certain cancers, retarded growth in children, seizures, and numerous other autoimmune afflictions. It has been found frequently in people from northern European genetic pools. It is only in the last several decades that ongoing testing and research has been expanded and it is hoped that future genetic research will find answers. Meanwhile, through expanded diligence on the part of increasing numbers of consumers and stringent FDA regulation, more “safe” foods have been produced by companies who see a whole new consumer group and seek to fulfill a need, not a “fad.”

I strongly feel that a knowledgeable article is necessary by your paper, not bemoaning the “difficulties” of Sabbath dinner hostesses, but enlightening your readership to the prevalence of Celiac Sprue in the Jewish community and the necessity of families to be tested if there are suspicions of its presence in their familial makeup.

Barbara Bickel
Monroe Township

Editor’s Note: While a chef quoted in the article did suggest that dietary restrictions are “annoying,” neither JTA’s Sue Fishkoff nor NJJN referred to gluten-free or other medical diets as “optional”; rather, Fishkoff referred throughout the article to food “restrictions,” not “options.” For those interested in Celiac Disease and gluten-free diets, see these NJJN articles: “NJY Camps raises standards to assist celiac sufferers,” (Jan 12, 2011); “What to do when keeping kosher is not enough,” (July 21, 2010); and “Activist seeks help in stamping out disease,” (June 29, 2006).

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