At Little Stream Bakery, we have several policies and procedures to ensure that our gluten-free products remain gluten-free to a level below 20 parts per million (ppm), (i.e. each bread does not contain more than 20 ppm). This is the standard that is accepted by Codex* as the allowable limit to make a gluten-free claim. Also, presently this is the level that the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is enforcing for gluten-free claims.
At Little Stream Bakery, we have built our business reputation on integrity in several dimensions relating to health and ecology. As a Certified Organic producer, we are very familiar with proper sourcing and tracking. Much of this experience transfers well to gluten-free production. We are a small business with very low turnover and experienced mature staff who are conscientious and understand the need for attention to detail. There
are 11 full-time staff with an average of 8 years experience and 5 part-time staff with an average of 6 years experience. Also, the owner/founder of Little Stream, Graham Beck, maintains a presence on the production floor on a regular basis.
Outlined below are the specific steps we take to maintain our gluten-free integrity:
1) GLUTEN-FREE SOURCING - Only purchasing ingredients from tested gluten-free sources. All ingredients for gluten-free production are sourced from reliable gluten-free sources. Some ingredients such as raisins, olive oil or salt are gluten-free by their nature, as they are grown, processed and packaged in a gluten-free environment. All primary ingredients including grains, flours or material to produce flour and flax meal are tested for the presence of gluten for every lot number we use. This testing is either done on our premises or supplied from a producer who follows their own strict gluten-free protocol - where they do their own testing. If any potential ingredient tests positive for more than 10 ppm we will not use it.
Our gluten-free loaves are all made without yeast and use a sourdough starter. Each variety of gluten-free bread uses a separate starter that is always gluten-free and consistent with that loaf - for example, Rice Loaf uses a rice starter and Buckwheat Loaf uses a buckwheat starter.
2) PRODUCTION SEQUENCING - While we do produce regular baked goods made with glutinous flours, we have strict procedures to ensure there is no cross-contamination between the glutinous and gluten-free products.
All glutinous flour is removed before transitioning to gluten-free production. The transition from glutinous to gluten-free involves a thorough cleanup where all contact surfaces are wiped down and the floor is swept with a dust mop. Staff who have been in contact with gluten brush themselves off completely, wash and scrub their forearms and hands thoroughly and switch to colour-coded aprons. Gluten-free mixes and individual
products are not exposed to a room that has been used in regular glutinous production until after this transition is complete.
3) TESTING - We test our ingredients in-house, as needed, using the EZ Gluten Test from Elisa Technologies. This is a simple kit that allows us to determine if a sample is below 10 ppm. Also we test randomly using this same kit on our finished products to verify the gluten-free integrity of the finished products.
4) MILLING AND STORAGE - One of the qualities that make Little Stream Bakery unique is that we grind the flour on the premises for all of our products, with the exception of buckwheat flour. The natural granite stone mill, on which we grind our gluten-free grains, is in a separate building where no glutinous products are ever milled or stored. Further, the staff that works in our gluten-free mill/storage room does not work there if
they have been in regular bread production the same day.
All gluten-free ingredients and containers are stored in one of three gluten-free rooms.
5) SEPARATE EQUIPMENT - Contact surfaces, in the form of containers or equipment, are in most cases entirely separate, such as bread pans, bread slicer, mixing tubs, trays, flour bins, flour scoops, oven gloves, and cooling screens. Interestingly, gluten-free breads have no dough to develop - since gluten is integral to making dough – therefore, we are able to mix the gluten-free mixes entirely by hand and avoid the use of our commercial dough mixers.
*Codex standard for gluten-free foods is avaiable in PDF format here.