Recently, an Examiner.com writer published a piece about Hershey’s chocolate. He wrote that his friend called the company and they told them that they lines are dusted with flour, so he is telling celiacs to avoid Hershey’s chocolate. I was very frustrated to read this, because I eat Hershey’s chocolate, and have checked their labels frequently for changing allergen information (as we all should). I checked the Hershey website for allergen information and found that they will label any allergen information on the package: http://www.hersheys.com/nutrition/allergens.asp They clearly state that they do not use an allergen on the line if it is not in the product (ie. dusting the line with flour if there is no flour in the product).
I went on to call the company today, to find out exactly what the customer service people are telling callers. I called 1-800-HERSHEY and asked for product information, then pressed 3 for nutrition and allergen information, then 2 for gluten information, listened to the automated message, and then pressed 0 to speak with a customer service person. I had to give my last name and zip code, and then I asked my question. I said “I read an article about the product lines being dusted with flour, is this true?”
The customer service person that I spoke to was very upset that this information is floating around because it is completely untrue. She said that they take allergens very seriously, and that “wheat is a major protein allergen, and we do not dust the lines with wheat flour.” She also said that they had a partial gluten-free product list (not complete, because they are still working on the details), that includes the milk chocolate, milk chocolate with almonds, Hershey’s kisses, Jolly Ranchers, and some others. She clarified again that they take allergens very seriously and that they do not dust the line with wheat flour. She said that if they do have anything else on the line with allergens, they will have an allergen statement on the packaging (as required by law), such as “Manufactured on shared equpiment with peanuts and wheat”. She asked why I was calling about gluten and I told her about celiac disease (probably for their call records, so they can keep track of the reasons that people call the company).
There is a HUGE lesson to learn from this; research for yourself! Never trust someone you read just because someone wrote it. Call the company for yourself and ask. Check their website. Use your brain. If something doesn’t sound right, then look further.