Wednesday, March 08, 2006

SPELT SPELLS TROUBLE
Don't get too excited about the fact that New York describes its favorite cupcake as being free of "eggs, dairy, sugar, and wheat." The magazine goes on to say that the Babycakes cupcake is made with spelt.

Some spelt marketers claim that the grain is not part of the wheat family, but you'd be hard pressed to find an authority who agrees. Spelt continues to be forbidden to people on medical gluten-free diets.

Here's how the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network puts it:
Spelt is an ancient wheat that has recently been marketed as safe for wheat-allergic individuals. This claim is untrue, however. Wheat-allergic patients can react as readily to spelt as they do to common wheat.
Yesterday I confirmed that Babycakes currently markets its spelt cupcakes as being wheat-free. I hope that the bakery will take remedial measures and team up with the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program to ensure that it can serve wheat-free and gluten-free people safely.

By changing its labeling, Babycakes would be acting responsibly and also protecting itself from problems such as those faced by the French Meadow Bakery, which had more than 50,000 bread loaves confiscated by the FDA because it was slow to remove the wheat-free label from its spelt breads.

6 comments:

Laura said...

I am pretty sure that Babycakes specifically differentiates between spelt and gluten-free items. When I was in and inquired about the difference, they informed me that wheat-free was made with spelt flour, which contains gluten, and gluten-free was garbanzo-fava bean flour.

David Marc Fischer said...

Thanks for writing, Laura.

As I see it, the problem is that spelt products should not be described as "wheat free." That also happens to be the stance of the FDA and advocates for celiacs and people with true wheat allergies. It seems that spelt marketers have been the main and perhaps only source of the idea that it's okay to label spelt foods as "wheat free." As of this year, the FDA is going after businesses that do so.

It is, therefore, in the interest of Babycakes to go along with the FDA position and cease its practice of describing spelt goodies as "wheat free."

Anonymous said...

When did the FDA change the "spelt" labeling practice?

David Marc Fischer said...

It seems that the FDA started cracking down as of January 2006.

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