Baking Gluten Free products in a facility that is used primarily for products containing wheat is not a simple task. Read below to see how we are doing our best to eliminate cross contamination between these products.
When we expanded and moved into our current facility in early 2014, we incorporated a self-contained gluten-free production space. This room has it’s own air intake that results in a positive air pressure and helps to ensure no air containing wheat particles enter this space.
When purchasing our ingredients we require a certificate of analysis from all suppliers confirming that they are gluten free. Upon arrival to the facility all ingredients used in our gluten-free production go directly to the gluten-free room for storage and processing.
Our gluten free room has its own dedicated utensils, pans, baking trays, equipment (mixers, scales, food processors), and it’s own sanitation station. The bakers working in this section receive special training with a strong emphasis on the dangers of cross-contamination. Like the rest of our bakery these bakers are required to wear clean uniforms, gloves, and special shoes.
Beyond satisfaction, safety is our top priority when creating our gluten free products. As such, we wanted to proceed with the utmost caution in our efforts to produce gluten-free baking in the same facility as our wheat production. With the assistance of Ellen Bayens, a diagnosed celiac, long-time volunteer with the Victoria Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association and creator of The Celiac Scene, we were able to identify potential points of cross-contamination and have worked with her to address them.
BAKING AND COOLING
After the product has been prepared it leaves the gluten-free room to be baked and packaged. As noted above we use separate utensils, pans, trays,racks and equipment when making our gluten free products. The oven however is also used to bake gluten-containing products. Once our gluten free products are removed from the oven they are transported directly onto dedicated gluten free cooling racks. To help prevent cross contamination during the cooling process we have installed a fan system that pulls the air out of this cooling area towards the wheat production area. This helps to prevent air that contains any flour dust travelling from the production area to the product during cooling. Once the products are cooled, they are sliced on a dedicated slicer, bagged, and labelled.
In order to ensure these processes are successful we perform two different types of testing. The first type of testing we do is in house testing. Every week we spot test products to ensure that they have not been contaminated with gluten. The second type of testing we do is third party testing. Once per month we send items to a lab in Vancouver to test for the presence of gluten. In both cases we are testing to ensure the gluten levels are below the allowable limit. The allowable limit is 20PPM. Since we started testing 4 years ago we have never had products score above the allowable limits.
We feel it is important to stress that Portofino European Bakery is not a strictly gluten-free bakery. The potential for cross-contamination between the two lines of baking does exist. However, stringent precautions are taken, and third-party product testing is performed to confirm that our our established protocols result in baking that consistently contains less than 20ppm of gluten. Tests results have come back without exception within Health Canada standards set for products that bear a gluten-free label.
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