Saturday, July 08, 2006


When is a product labeled gluten-free not gluten-free? It can happen when the labeler of the product screws up--intentionally or accidentally.

Ivan F. Delbyck wrote about Wellshire Farms's Lemon Herb Turkey Breast in the April 2006 newsletter of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group. The product, found in the freezer case of the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle, was clearly labeled as gluten-free; however, after Ivan brought the turkey home, his wife Ricki checked the ingredients and found that barley malt was listed among the ingredients. Ivan and Ricki brought the discrepancy to the attention of Whole Foods, which contacted Wellshire Farms. Weeks later, wrote Ivan in a portion of the article that was truncated from the newsletter, "we were told by Whole Foods that they received a response from Wellshire Farms and were told by their corporate management that the product had been mis-labeled and did have gluten in it."

Ivan's conclusion: "The bottom line and moral of this story is to always read the label." But I'd like to point out that the bottom bottom line might be that manufacturers, food preparers, and food distributors must be vigilant and honest about labeling their foods. This goes for Wellshire Farms and Whole Foods as well as smaller operations such as Babycakes.

Sure, celiacs can read labels and search for discrepancies. But ultimately they're still reliant on the quality of the labels themselves. Every party in the food chain shares responsibility for correct labeling.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

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