Celiac.com 02/04/2010 - Paul Seelig, the owner of the GreatSpecialty Products bread company in Durham, North Carolina, has beenarrested and is facing felony charges for intentionally deceivingconsumers by selling bread which he promoted as gluten free, whenevidence shows it was not.
The North Carolina Department ofAgriculture and Consumer Services began investigating Seelig aftercomplaints flooded in regarding his breads that were sold at theNorth Carolina State Fair. An estimated 25 people have currentlyfiled complaints against Seelig. Customers complained of reactions tohis bread products ranging from rashes to vomiting & diarrhea.
State agriculture officials sentsamples of Seelig's bread to a laboratory at the University ofNebraska (FDA facility), where test results confirmed the presence ofgluten in his products. Tests of Seelig's products showed that his“gluten free” breads actually contained more than 5,000 parts ofgluten per million; and for a product to be considered gluten free itmust be less than 20 parts per million. However, Seelig still refusesto cooperate with authorities and provide information about where hisbreads come from. Therefor, a Judge ruled that Seelig cannot sellanymore products until he cooperates with investigators.
Seelig claims his breads have beenrigorously tested for gluten. According to his website-which was shutdown following a court order - it took two years of testing to makehis gluten free bread. He also claims that if there was really glutenin his products, hundreds of complaints would have been filed againsthim.
Investigators say that Seelig is lyingabout his products, and at this point has not provided any evidenceto prove otherwise. In fact, the investigation revealed informationthat Seelig's company, was buying gluten containing bread productsfrom Tribecca Oven Company and repackaging the bread with gluten freelabels. Additionally, according to Brian Long of the agriculturedepartment, Seelig's company is run out of his house on Cardinal LakeDrive in Durham, North Carolina.
Seelig is not new to the court system.In 2001, he spent 4 months in Nebraska prison for several counts offraud. For his current trial, Seelig has been using various stallingmethods in an attempt to delay his trial date, including, claimsthat he has H1N1, was quarantined due to staph infection, had cancertreatment and even a heart attack. Contrary to previous Judge rulings, recent reports indicate that thehearing has now been moved to 2/24/2010, and bail is set at $100,000due to his high flight risk.