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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

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

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      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.

    Source:

     

     

     


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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.

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    Seems like they also left soy out of the Allergy Information list:

     

    Allergy Information

    Contains: Milk, Egg

     

    The ingredients do list soybean oil.

    Which item had the soy oil?

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    Guest Katherine Keys

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    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.

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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.

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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.

    Thanks for your comment. We also agree that more gluten-free options are generally a good thing. What confused us was that Starbucks seemed to be working hard to make sure the final product was gluten-free, which is great. But the disclaimer is a bit confusing for people with celiac disease. Our aim here is to make sure people with celiac disease make an informed decision about this and other "gluten-free" products they may consume.

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    I think the allergen warning is presumably because allergic reactions can occur at less than even the 20ppm that affects celiacs. So it is not necessarily contradictory to say it is gluten-free (<20ppm gluten) and and potentially an allergen risk for those allergic to wheat.

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    I agree with Tina. The disclaimers on fast food gluten-free items are necessary given the lawsuit happy lawyers. Since some people are more sensitive and others are less sensitive those who are the most sensitive to gluten need to keep in mind the reality of the situation. These foods exist and are prepared in places where non-gluten-free products are also present. The world isn't hermetically sealed and there is always a risk of some gluten cross-contamination. At least they're trying. If you're that afraid of it, then just don't order it, but it's a good option for those who are less sensitive. We shouldn't be discouraging companies like this from recognizing the needs of a segment of consumers.

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    Seems like they also left soy out of the Allergy Information list:

     

    Allergy Information

    Contains: Milk, Egg

     

    The ingredients do list soybean oil.

    Frustrating to me that dairy is included in this sandwich. Many people who are celiac are also dairy free. It would be so easy to use a dairy free milk.

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    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.

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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.

    Tina, why do you sound so angry. The article only states facts and just wants people to be aware to always check gluten-free foods out.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He 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 science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF 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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