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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Starbucks Has a New Gluten-free Breakfast Sandwich! Or Do They?

      Will Starbucks guarantee its new breakfast sandwich is gluten-free?


    Caption: Is Starbucks' new breakfast sandwich really gluten-free? Photo: Starbucks Gluten-free Breakfast Sandwich--Starbucks

    Celiac.com 03/24/2017 - Does it meet the FDA standard for a gluten-free product? Is it safe for people with celiac disease?

    Starbucks' new Gluten-Free Breakfast Sandwich looks yummy. But, why does Starbucks' website feature a disclaimer saying the company cannot guarantee the absence of allergens, including wheat?

    The sandwich itself is pretty standard fare, consisting of two slices of cherrywood-smoked Canadian bacon, an egg patty and reduced-fat white cheddar on a gluten-free roll.

    The company website uses boldface type to tout the "gluten-free"-ness of the new offering, noting that the sandwich uses a "gluten-free roll," is "prepared in a certified gluten-free environment," and sealed "in its own oven-safe parchment bag to avoid any cross-contamination." Sounds good, so far, perhaps even safe for celiacs.

    But then there's this little disclaimer at the bottom of the page saying that Starbucks "cannot guarantee that any of our products are free from allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, wheat and others) as we use shared equipment to store, prepare and serve them."

    Wheat? This product may contain wheat? Wheat contains gluten. Things that contain wheat are not gluten-free, and usually cannot be labeled as such.

    So, what's the deal? Is the sandwich gluten-free or not? Is this a bit like when Pizza Hut offered a gluten-free pizza crust, but wouldn't guarantee a gluten-free pizza? How much wiggle room is built into Starbucks' disclaimer? The questions are basic ones. Is the product gluten-free? Is it safe for people with celiac disease, or not? If it is, then Starbucks has been unclear in declaring the suitability of their product for people with celiac disease.

    If not, then Starbucks has been equally unclear in declaring the unsuitability of their product for people with celiac disease. Also, if the company can't guarantee a gluten-free product, and won't recommend it for people with celiac disease, then who is this product for?

    The Starbucks website features lots of talk about the "gluten-free," aspects of the product, and the serving process, but there is no language stating that the sandwich, as served is "under 20ppm" gluten, which is the FDA standard for advertising package goods as "gluten-free." There is no claim that the product is safe for people with celiac disease.

    The Starbucks Gluten-free Breakfast Sandwich sounds very much like something that many people in the celiac disease community might welcome…IF it's actually gluten-free. Let's hope it is. Let's hope this was just a mix-up by Starbucks, perhaps the result of an over-zealous legal department.

    Otherwise, it would seem that, without more clarity, people with celiac disease could be confused or mislead by the claims, and maybe influenced by the ubiquitousness of Starbucks and their promotional campaign into trying something that might harm them.

    Celiac.com is reaching out to Starbucks for comment. We look forward to sharing their reply.

    Until it becomes clear that this product is actually gluten-free, and suitable for everyone, Celiac.com urges celiac sufferers to use caution, and to follow the story here for more updates.

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    I had one - it was really yummy and I had no reaction to it. I was THRILLED to be able to get a breakfast sandwich and a coffee somewhere for once! I agree that the disclaimer is most likely covering their legal butts, so to speak.

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    I have celiac disease and I have eaten this sandwich. It's not only delicious but it is definitely gluten free. Because it is toasted in its own bag it avoids cross contamination in the toaster. I even tested it with my Nima sensor which confirmed it was gluten free. Most importantly I didn't get sick!

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    At first I was thinking it's just to satisfy the gluten-free movement but after looking at their page, it looks like more of a disclaimer rather than a reality. I feel it's safe to eat. rnI have been glutened at places claiming to serve gluten-free food but it was cross contaminated so now as a precaution I have a card that I give to the waitress for the chef that lists what is gluten and about the dangers of cross contamination. I feel a lot safer eating out after I got that card.

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    I had one of these sandwiches yesterday and it was gluten free (the tiniest crumb will get me very sick). The sandwich was delicious and I appreciate Starbuck's willingness to take all the necessary precautions. I did notice that the used the same oven tongs to grab the sealed gluten free bag that they use to grab all the gluten-filled pastries. That just meant that I had to grab the sandwich with a napkin and eat it that way.

    Thanks for the heads up on the tongs Stef. I have a gluten allergy so touching it will cause a reaction.rnI will ask them to use separate tongs or their hands when I buy one.

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    Guest Jefferson Adams

    Posted

    I purchased a gluten free sandwich from Starbucks yesterday for breakfast. It was served in a sealed wrapper marked with the CERTIFIED Gluten-Free symbol I always look for. It tasted just fine and caused no gastro discomfort! As a celiac, I feel comfortable purchasing this product. It's wonderful to have one more place to stop for a safe meal when I travel.

    Thanks for your comment. It's good to know that the sandwich has a gluten-free label. So far, the feedback looks good.

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    The sandwich is fine! If it were not for the litigious society we live in here in America, then places would not have to add such legal speak and disclaimers. I for one am happy that places are coming up with gluten-free options. We take a risk when we put anything in our mouths so do your research and get a Nima to test items if you are that concerned and we also. We'd to remember that there are other people that eat gluten-free for other health issues or desires besides those of us with celiac, we don't have the corner on that market.

    I agree with Tina that the disclaimer is most likely a CYA against the unexpected Even if the facility is monitored and cleaned, NO ONE can guarantee that somewhere along the supply chain someone might have dropped a bag of flour near some ingredient and it got dusted. Just about all products that are sold as gluten-free have a similar disclaimer. I am celiac but not real sensitive, so I don´t worry about these; just getting something with gluten free ingredients works for me. So thank god there is something other than the crispy rice marshmallow bars to eat with my latte.

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    Guest Jefferson Adams

    Posted

    This is not a well thought out post. Of course Starbucks nor any fast food chain can guarantee that there will not be cross contamination when predominantly serving products with gluten. Perhaps you could suggest they more clearly state that products may come in contact with gluten thus potentially contaminating the bun. So to answer your question, yes it is gluten free before it is removed from the package but beyond that there are no guarantees. Be thankful they provide a warning, better to be safe than sorry.

    That's not what Starbucks disclaimer says. It says that cannot guarantee that the item is gluten-free. Period. I do think Starbucks could be clearer about this matter, as it can create confusion. So far, the reports from people with celiac disease seem to be favorable.

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    This is a fear-mongering headline. The disclaimer is nothing more than a CYA. FYI Pizza Hut's pizza and preparation was certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

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    Guest Jefferson Adams

    Posted

    This is a fear-mongering headline. The disclaimer is nothing more than a CYA. FYI Pizza Hut's pizza and preparation was certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

    But Pizza Hut advises people with celiac disease to not eat their "gluten-free" pizzas, as they cannot guarantee the final product is gluten-free, and safe for celiacs. If Starbucks sandwich is safe for people with celiac disease, they need to say so. If it is not, they need to say so. This generic disclaimer does nothing to clarify the situation, and is confusing for people with celiac disease.

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    I didn't know about the labeling issues - I tried this sandwich today and thought it was decent. Did notice the gluten-free label on package. I saw one in the case, opened, and asked the clerk if it contained buckwheat or another darker gluten-free whole grain as it looked dark to me- she did not know (just checked and yes it does contain buckwheat, which to me is a plus, not commonly found in gluten-free commercial products). I find the labeling odd too though. IF it is tested gluten-free and safe for celiacs then why the disclaimer? Says is made in a gluten-free facility. So where's the gluten? Where did the ingredients come from? Is the buckwheat (and other flour) certified gluten-free? I don't know where the possible gluten would come from, if no cross-contamination and base ingredients do not contain gluten? Makes no sense- labeling. Do not think normal manufacurers would "cover their butt" this way unless it was made in facility with a cross-contamination possibility.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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