Monday, July 1, 2013

When ingredients change...

The gluten-free world has been getting better and better ever since I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease over 5 years ago. New products are constantly being introduced, and existing products are changing their ingredients to remove gluten. Manufacturing practices are changing to eliminate the possibility of cross contamination.

Until now... 

In the past month, I keep coming across information stating products I previously enjoyed are no longer gluten-free. Other manufacturers seem to be taking the cowardly route and they are now stating that they can't guarantee their product is gluten-free because they don't know where the ingredients come from. 

Example 1: Advil Liqui-Gels
I used this product prior to going on a gluten-free diet, and I was incredibly relieved to find out it was gluten-free after my diagnosis. Tablet pain relievers often contain gluten as a binder, so it made sense that a liqui-gel wouldn't have the need for gluten. Until now. I don't even remember how I came across the information, but the other day, someone posted a link about this product.
In case you don't want to click the link, it says: 
Advil® Liqui-Gels® and Advil® Migraine and contain a wheat derivative, and are not gluten-free. You should check with your doctor if you have any concerns about taking this product.
I haven't done additional research to see if the generic versions are still gluten-free, but I have to admit I'm bummed that a product I've relied on for at least 10 years pre and post gluten-free is no longer safe for me to use. 

Example 2: Kraft
When I first was diagnosed, Kraft was named as one of those brands with exemplary labeling practices, and I knew I could always rely on the ingredient label rather than needing to call the manufacturer. That is no longer the case, which is extremely frustrating considering it is such a large company, and my opinion is that they should somewhat be setting the standard for how things are done and show other companies that it can be done. I heard someone questioned one of their products that I had always relied on as gluten-free, and they were informed that it was not considered by Kraft to be gluten-free. 
I decided to do my own research and call them. The call didn't go well. I've worked in customer service, so I always do my best to be upbeat and polite because I realize they don't make the decisions, but this one was tough. I asked if the product was gluten-free, and the response was that Kraft does not consider it to be gluten-free. I was advised that any product that contains "spices, flavorings, or coloring" is not gluten-free because they don't know how their suppliers produce these ingredients and it is proprietary information.

Often times, I am told that I need to call the manufacturer with the UPC each time I'm going to purchase a product so they can determine which manufacturing facility it was made in and where the ingredients were sourced from. This always ticks me off, and I always inform them that I will simply purchase from another company as I don't have the time to call every time I want to purchase one of their products. On a whim, I asked the Kraft representative if I could call to confirm if I needed to purchase one of their products.
Nope. They flat out don't know. Boo Kraft!

So not only was this one product no longer considered to be gluten-free, but ALL Kraft products are subject to this ridiculous rule of "spices, flavorings or coloring." 

I do my best to always stay positive about everything gluten-free, so here is my solution: we need to nicely contact these companies to let them know their changes have affected us. The gluten-free community needs to stand together and let companies know that it's not ok to suddenly change their labeling practices. When I voiced my displeasure on Facebook, a few of my friends said that I shouldn't be eating Kraft products anyway because they're full of GMO's, etc, etc, etc. For now, I'd like to focus just on the gluten-free thing though (I will cover my opinion of GMO's in an upcoming blog.) I realize there is a large portion of the population that does not care about GMO's along with a large portion that does. 

If you decide to contact Kraft, feel free to call Advil as long as you're on the phone ;)

Contact information for companies:
Kraft: 1-877-535-5666
Advil: 1-800-882-3845

Questions? Comments?.... I'd love to hear from you.

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