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Savoring Safe Soup
November 2, 2010
Editor Alicia Woodward and I recently took a tour of the Kettle Cuisine plant in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Owners Jerry and Lorna Shafir greeted us at the door with warm hugs and hot soup. (Well, actually, we ate the soup later, but the plant’s delicious aroma helped work up an appetite.)
Although we had entered a state-of-the-art stainless steel facility, I felt like I had stopped off at a neighbor’s for a bowl of soup. These folks are passionate about their products, ten of which are gluten free. And they wanted to show us every detail--from making the stocks, to chopping broccoli and cauliflower by hand, to searing Angus beef in single layers in giant pots. As passionate as the Shafirs are about their soup, they are equally committed to creating safe gluten-free foods. Jerry and Lorna’s youngest daughter, Kate, has celiac disease, so they understand the importance of protecting against cross contamination in the plant, producing soups that are not only hearty and tasty but also completely gluten free.
They explained that they run the gluten-free line right after the sanitation and sterilization process and before they run their regular line of soups. Each batch is tested to 5 parts per million. Jerry pointed to the few gluten-containing items, segregated and stored in bright yellow containers to make sure they are never confused. “We have 140 people in the plant, and they all know the drill,” he said.
After meandering through steamy rooms and chilly refrigerated spaces, we ended up back where we had started. And then the eating began. We sampled a new Thai Curry Soup, Three Bean Chili, New England Clam Chowder, Angus Beef Steak Chili and Beans, and more. I tasted my way through seven flavors and then returned for seconds.
While the soups warmed my tummy, my heart was filled with appreciation for the gift of great, gluten-free products and the efforts taken on behalf of celiac consumers.
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