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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- To mark Make a Difference Day, the national day of community caring celebrated on the fourth Saturday of every October, Wegmans Food Markets here will help raise awareness about celiac disease at events held at the Nature's Marketplace department of 30 Wegmans stores. On Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., registered dietitians will answer shoppers' questions about the condition at select locations in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.
Customers who attend the events will be able to sample some gluten-free foods in the Nature's Marketplace section; get information at the pharmacy or Nature's Marketplace about the symptoms and treatment of celiac disease, including a brochure provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation; pick up refrigerator magnets directing people to www.wegmans.com, where they will find a complete list of over 1,100 gluten-free Wegmans-brand products throughout the store in a printable .pdf-file format, and additional information about living with a gluten sensitivity.
Between 2 million and 3 million Americans are estimated to have celiac disease, which is now believed to be much more common than previously thought. Eliminating all gluten from one's diet is the key to managing the condition.
According to Wegmans' Consumer Affairs staff, the single most common query it receives in the area of health and nutrition is about gluten status of various foods. Typically the staff responds to 800 to 1,000 informational requests about gluten annually. Additionally, Wegmans' Web pages devoted to gluten sensitivity now average 9,000 hits a year, with 7,000 yearly downloads of the gluten-free list of Wegmans-brand products.
Wegmans' year-round gluten-free policy includes offering gluten-free products in its dedicated Nature's Marketplace section, including entrees, accompaniments, snacks, breads, and cereals, all marked by prominent signage. The section also features trained personnel who can answer common questions about gluten-free eating.
Additionally, a label consisting of a gold dot with the letter G in the center on Wegmans-brand product signifies that the item is gluten-free; Fresh News, Wegmans' free weekly e-mail, offers a gluten-free version of the meal of the week; the aforementioned list of gluten-free products is available online; and the grocer has created a booklet, "Gluten Sensitivity: Making a Special Diet Easier to Swallow," which can be found in stores.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 71 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.