Friday, January 23, 2009

GF Outdoor Athletes and Energy Chews

This blog post finds me in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I'm attending the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show, hosted by the Outdoor Industry Association. If you're into outdoor adventure sports, this is the place for you! Imagine taking all the companies that deal in climbing gear, ski gear, camping gear, outdoor technical clothing, and lots more, and putting them all under one very large roof. That's the winter outdoor retailer!

Many companies use the show as an opportunity to unveil their newest products that either just have hit the market, or will do so soon. Earlier today, I wandered the show floor doing some gluten-free reconnaissance specifically related to energy/sports chews. In a previous blog post, I've touted both Sharkies and Jelly Belly's Sport Beans (you can read my assessment of them both by scrolling to the bottom of this post). However, based on what I've seen at this year's winter outdoor retailer, Sharkies and Sports Beans have some competition.

First, there's Honey Stinger, a company based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They've introduced organic energy chews, which are both gluten-free and dairy-free. The Organic Energy Chews are currently available in two flavors - Fruit Smoothie (which contains cherry blossom, orange blossom, and mixed berry) and Cherry Blossom. In April 2009, they've also planning to release a new flavor option: Pomegranate Passion.

Second, GU has unveiled its new GU Chomps, touted as "pure performance energy chews." These puppies are so new they're not on the website yet. Like the Honey Stinger chews, these are also gluten-free and dairy-free. When they hit stores, they'll be available in four flavors: blueberry-pomegranate, orange, strawberry, and cranberry-apple.

Lastly, there are the Luna Sport Moons. These puppies are being billed as the "first women's organic energy chew." They come in three flavors: pomegranate, blueberry, and watermelon. (For the men, Luna is made by Clif, which also offers Shot Bloks. These come in seven flavors.) UPDATE: While neither the Luna Sport Moons nor Clif Shot Bloks contain gluten, they are made in a facility that also processes wheat, and thus has the potential for cross-contamination. Anecdotally, I've personally never gotten sick from them, but that's no guarantee that it couldn't happen in the future. UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: 3/3/09 - The Clif website is out of date, and the company has confirmed for me that both Luna Sport Moons and Shot Bloks are GLUTEN-FREE, and are made in a dedicated, allergen-free facility. Enjoy!

So there you have it, gluten-free endurance athletes. Whether your thing is ski mountaineering racing, Xterra, triathlons, marathons, or anything else, there are an increasing number of gluten-free energy chews out there to help fuel your body, and the newest offerings to come to market will make for some stiff (and tasty) competition for the old standards.

- Pete

7 comments:

GFE--gluten free easily said...

Hey, Pete--I love the different perspective you offer from so many of the other GF bloggers. This info will be so helpful to many like you who are out there competing and need to recharge safely and easily!

Best,
Shirley

peterbronski said...

Hi Shirley,

Glad you've enjoyed our perspective on the GF lifestyle. I report on it as I experience it, and you can be sure that if I have this perspective, there are others out there who do, too, and will benefit from the information!

Cheers, Pete

Kendra said...

Maybe I missed this elsewhere on your blog (I was directed by my mom to this particular post) but do you have a definition of gluten free anywhere? I ask because you mentioned Clif Shot Bloks are gluten free, but even on their website they indicate that the shot bloks are made in a facility where wheat is also processed, so many people would not consider this to be gluten free. Instead, it'd be considered "free of gluten ingredients".

peterbronski said...

Hi Kendra,

Thanks for your note. We don't have a gluten-free definition on our blog, but it's good that you ask. Our definition of "gluten-free" covers foods that do not contain gluten, AND that are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. By that measure, the Clif Luna Sport Moons and Shot Bloks are, as you say, free of gluten-containing ingredients, but not necessarily gluten-free because of the potential for cross-contamination at the production facility. I've ammended the blog post to reflect this. Thanks for alerting us!

Cheers, Pete

Kendra said...

Thanks, Pete. Good to know we're on the same page. I am hopeful that Gu products really are gluten free, because I sure miss my Clif Shot Bloks!

Am I correct in understanding that currently in the US, manufacturers are not required to specify whether or not their products are made in a facility that also makes gluten products? And the term "gluten free" isn't regulated either. In that case, couldn't a company say "gluten free" even though they really mean "no gluten ingredients"? Is there a way to know for sure?

peterbronski said...

Hi Kendra,

Currently, the term "gluten free" is undefined and unregulated in the United States. This gives companies much leeway in how they use the term. Hopefully, they're being forthright and transparent. That may all change in the near future, however, with proposed legislation for the US that would define "gluten free," including what it means and when and how companies can use the term in labeling. At present, companies are required to divulge if products contain (or are produced on equipment that handles) any of the "eight main allergens," which includes wheat. Of course, wheat isn't the only source of gluten, so there's a loophole of sorts there.

Cheers, Pete

Kendra said...

Thanks for all the info!