Tiffany Jakubowski posted an excellent article on this site a while back, about the gluten-free rumor mill. Recently, I was reminded of how important it is to understand the many important things Tiffany mentioned in her piece. Rumors can be very dangerous things, in more ways than you might realize. It’s unfortunate if someone believes that something is gluten-free when it isn’t, or if someone avoids something that is actually safe due to an incorrect rumor about it.
Another way rumors can be particularly damaging is when untrue, outdated or incorrect information is spread about a gluten-free product. Companies don’t have to cater to our market, though more of the well run ones seem to be doing that more and more these days. Last week, on a celiac listserv post, someone reported that Fish & Chip Bites from Blue Horizon Organic were marked gluten-free/wheat-free but that the item was not gluten-free. The person stated that they they noticed malt listed on the package and that they got sick from the product. There is no reason to dispute a person’s claim about being sick, but the product the person listed in the note is tested by a third party company and is in fact, gluten-free. As a very wise listserv poster replied, the person might have gotten sick from something other than the Fish & Chip Bites.
The malt in the product is made from corn malt but that is not clearly stated in the ingredient list which is extremely unfortunate. That small mistake by the company probably cost them a good deal of business. Earlier in the year, the company took notice when so many customers called to inquire about the malt in the product. Since the company wants as many customers as possible, like most companies do, back in August 2009, they changed the formulation so no type of malt is used in the product now. As always, there is some of the older product in the marketplace. Even so, the item is gluten-free regardless of which product you find. As long as the gluten-free label is on the package, it’s gluten-free, in the case of this particular item anyway. The malt in the Fish & Chip Bites was always made from corn and was always gluten-free.
There is no problem with someone sharing helpful information with others in our community, but it’s best that we all make sure of the facts before spreading misinformation to the masses. Some people that don’t take the time to check things out for themselves will simply write off Blue Horizon Organic products, due to the listserv post. That is a loss to them and to a company that is trying to provide us with quality gluten-free items in a product category that almost always ignores the gluten-free set.
The one good thing about the recent incident was that I’d never heard of the item (or the company) and it’s apparently sold at all Whole Foods locations. I’m super excited to look for it later this week when shopping there. This is one product area where there are very few gluten-free options - frozen appetizers. In the past, I often checked out the frozen appetizer offerings at the stores near me but every package I picked up said “contains wheat” so I finally give up checking. It’s for that reason I’ve never heard of this company or product. If 99% of the products in a certain food category contain gluten, it’s really hard to find that 1% that does not. There are four gluten-free items available from this Blue Horizon Organic – Fish & Chip Bites, Salmon Cake Bites, Crab Cake Bites (yes, gluten-free crab cakes!) and Albacore Tuna Bites. In addition to them being gluten-free, the products are made without preservatives or MSG and I intend to try them all!