Meet FODMAP Friendly!
Whether you are new to the low FODMAP diet, or have been navigating it for a while, we certainly hope that you are aware of FODMAP Friendly as a leader in the field. We strive to bring you interviews with the trailblazers and we are thrilled to bring you Founder Tim Mottin and Charmaine Duong, Business Development and Marketing Manager, to learn more about the FODMAP Friendly brand.
It is true that many of us use the term “FODMAP friendly” to denote a food that is “allowable” and low FODMAP in content, but where did that term come from originally? Let’s dive in.
Dédé Wilson: Tim and Charmaine, we like to start at the beginning, so our community can learn directly from you about your brand. Tell us how FODMAP Friendly came to be and tell us what your roles are within the company.
Tim: My company, Stream Diagnostics, specialises in Hydrogen Methane Breath Testing, and is at the forefront of breath testing for FODMAP malabsorption. Stream Diagnostics and Dr. Sue Shepherd (founder of Shepherd Works) worked closely together to assist patients with the diagnosis and management of IBS symptoms.
Too often, Stream Diagnostics and Shepherd Works dietetics practice witnessed the frustration and lack of options for those tested for malabsorption of these sugars. Their only option was to cook their own meals with limited information, or suffer in silence.
For patients following the low FODMAP diet, reading complicated ingredient labels on packaged foods was fraught with difficultly; we wanted to provide a solution for our patients, to eliminate the guesswork from supermarket shopping.
Myself and Dr. Sue Shepherd worked closely together to co-pioneer the FODMAP Friendly Certification Program. (Editor’s Note: Sue Shepherd has retired and is no longer involved with the business). This took several years after writing the rules and criteria of the program, which then had to gain approval from the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) in Australia and relevant regulatory authorities around the world for the program to launch.
My role is administrative, regulatory and strategic relationships.
Charmaine: My role is to market manufacturer’s products, education awareness of the low FODMAP diet and assist businesses with the development of low FODMAP products to gain certification.
Your brand extends broadly. Take us through your various offerings.
Charmaine: We are best known for our certification trademark – the FODMAP Friendly logo which signifies to consumers that a product has been laboratory tested to be low in FODMAPs and therefore, safe to consume when following the low FODMAP diet. We have over 50 certified brands with over 400 FODMAP Friendly certified products.
Our FODMAP Friendly app is a great resource for anyone following the low FODMAP diet. It has a database of over 600 foods including FODMAP Friendly certified products. With our app, you can check if a food is high or low in FODMAPs from the convenience of your smart phone device.
We also provide educational seminars for dietitians and health professionals who want to specialize in the area of FODMAPs. Research suggests the low FODMAP diet is the most effective nutritional management for those with IBS. Dietitians look to us as the global experts to equip them with the knowledge they need to see IBS patients through all phases of the low FODMAP diet.
We share recipes and educational posts to the FODMAP community via our many social media channels. We have a facebook page , Instagram page, as well as a monthly newsletter which we send out to fodmappers with new certified products that they can eat safely on the low FODMAP diet. All certified products can be found on our website too.
With regards to the product certification, can you explain what the certification is signaling to the consumer when they see the certification mark on the product?
Tim: The certification signals that the product has been independently laboratory tested in an accredited laboratory to be below the criteria thresholds that would trigger IBS type symptoms. Consumers have the confidence that they can consume the product knowing that it meets the criteria when following a low FODMAP diet.
These thresholds were established by research for the acceptable amounts of all FODMAP sugars per serve.
Unlike a standard trademark, gaining a certification trademark meant rules had to be submitted for gaining certification status and these rules were submitted and approved by the relevant regulatory authority in each country where the Certification Trademark was registered.
Foods could now be tested for their FODMAP levels and identified by an approved and regulated criteria to be labelled as FODMAP Friendly – just look for the round green logo in the circle!
Can you elaborate a bit more about the independent lab(s) that you use for prepared food product certifications and testing whole foods for FODMAPs?
Tim: DTS Food Assurance is Australia’s largest food testing organization and conducts all of FODMAP Friendly’s FODMAP testing. The NATA accreditation (National Association of Testing Authorities) means they must meet high quality standards and provide evidence of this annually to maintain their accreditation. They comply with all government and regulatory requirements including quality assurance programs; they are used by multi-national food companies and the Australian government.
I have received accreditation from FODMAP Friendly as a recipe developer and FODMAP educator and our brand FODMAP Everyday is accredited by you as content experts. Can you describe the difference between a FODMAP Friendly product certification and your accreditations for our readers? Please touch on the difference between your circular logo and your square logo and what they signal to the consumer.
Tim: The Certification program and round logo are specifically for food products that have been laboratory tested. Unfortunately, we can’t do that for FODMAP educators! Haha.
The Accreditation, and the square logo, is to identify those organisations and persons who have the expertise, knowledge and practical understanding of FODMAPs in the general market place.
It establishes a food service best practice for the ingredients, preparation and service of FODMAP Friendly foods by food service providers, health professionals and recipe developers. These organisations and persons have to demonstrate this ability or they cannot gain accreditation and use the logo.
The logo for Accreditation is a square logo which is very similar to the green round logo, but does not specify approved food product in it. See examples below
We do a lot of consumer education around smartphone apps. They are certainly one of the easiest ways for people following the low FODMAP diet to have information at their fingertips. We know that many people choose some FODMAP apps solely based on the fact that they are free and typically do not even think about where the data is coming from. You actually test foods and are a primary source for the information you provide. Can you explain why that is important?
Tim: Testing food provides consumers and patients with the greatest confidence that the information they are relying on is accurate; it has been scientifically validated – it is not just guess work.
Charmaine: Testing the foods in a lab also provides more specific data on acceptable serving sizes. With the FODMAP Friendly app, we provide the percentage of each FODMAP sugar for each food, so you can calculate yourself how many serves of the food you can have before it exceeds acceptable low FODMAP thresholds. Additionally, it’s a great tool for those who are cooking recipes with multiple low FODMAP ingredients. Using the app gives you a tool to calculate compounding FODMAPs.
If a product manufacturer is reading this and would like to have their product FODMAP Friendly Low FODMAP Certified, what is their first step?
Tim: The first step is to complete the preliminary application form which can be found on our website – www.fodmapfriendly.com
Otherwise, they can just pick up the phone or email us and we will provide them with the guidance and direction they may require.
Of all of the aspects of the FODMAP Friendly brand, is there a main focus for you at this point?
Tim: It’s to continue the awareness and education of consumers, health professionals and food manufacturers about FODMAPs, with the objective to assist those inflicted with IBS type symptoms.
We have certainly noticed that you have had many newly certified foods hitting the shelves in Australia and the United States. At this point (spring 2019) how many products are certified and where are they available?
Tim: We have around 400 certified products with this number growing rapidly.
Charmaine: Australia and the USA have the widest range of FODMAP Friendly certified products at the moment. They are available in a variety of places including local supermarkets and online retailers. The best place to find out where you can buy certified products is via our FODMAP Friendly app, or visit our certified products page on our website. We are seeing more FODMAP Friendly products surface in the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Europe too.
The US market for low FODMAP products is growing – can you share with us your plans for further expanding FODMAP Friendly certification of products for the US market?
Tim: We will continue our efforts to provide education to USA manufacturers, including some educational and scientific collaborations will be launched over the next 12 months.
We work with dietitians in the USA and events such as FNCE (Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo) to further these causes.
Charmaine: It’s very encouraging to see so many USA manufacturers reach out to us to find out how they can service those following the low FODMAP diet.
What about products for sale in other markets such as the UK and EU market?
Tim: The global market is now catching on to the success of FODMAPs as a means of dealing with digestive symptoms which has seen a growth in our certification of products particularly in the UK.
You have over 50,000 followers on Facebook and 24K followers on Instagram – other than your website fodmapfriendly.com, are these the main places consumers should follow for the most up-to-date information about your program?
Tim: Yes, our marketing team continues to provide educational and awareness content on these platforms. I encourage those wanting to know more about FODMAPs and new certified products to follow us on our social media channels.
We have a monthly newsletter also which provides a lot of detailed information. Visit our website to sign up to our monthly FODMAP newsletter which shares new certified products, educational articles and low FODMAP recipes.
It’s great to have the opportunity of working with people like yourselves who have a genuine desire to assist those people with IBS and food intolerances. The more we can collaborate with dietitians, educators and the like the better outcomes we can achieve for sufferers. Collaboration and sharing of information is so important.