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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Starbucks Looks to Add Better Gluten-free Options

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Starbuck looks to add more and better gluten-free options. Photo: CC--Angela Thompson

    Celiac.com 09/27/2016 - After repeated shareholder requests, and a public admission from the CEO that the company had "really screwed up the gluten free stuff," Starbucks is announcing an expansion gluten-free and other specialty options.

    Until now, Starbucks has relied heavily on packaged foods to meet the rising demand for gluten-free food raises. As part of a new effort to change that, the company recently released its latest offering, the organic gluten-free, vegan, kosher chickpea puff called Hippeas, which is currently available in white cheddar and fajita flavors.

    Over the years, numerous shareholders have demanded that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz add more food options for people who are either allergic to gluten or choose to eat gluten-free. At the 2015 shareholder meeting, Schultz said the company had plans to address the gluten-free issue because it represents a "big opportunity." He added that, to that point, the company had "really screwed up the gluten free stuff."

    Some gluten-free options are available regionally at various Starbucks, such as the Marshmallow Dream bar and the Kind Bars, but there has been little in the way of quality gluten-free options that are local, aritisanal, etc. "Items in our pastry case can be subject to cross contamination and we use shared equipment," Starbucks spokeswoman Erin Schaeffer said in an email response to questions. "So adding gluten-free options to our broader food portfolio has posed a challenge that we continue to explore."

    The market for packaged gluten-free foods is estimated at more than $3 billion and is continuing to grow.

    Last year, Starbucks launched the Retail Brand Partnership team, which is tasked with finding packaged goods that satisfy various dietary specialty needs.

    Read more in Bizjournals.com.


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    Good news! They pulled their gluten-free muffins before I even knew they were offering them when they tried to add those (at least locally here in Portland, OR). I wish they would give muffins another, better chance.

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    Please at least get gluten free packaged options. That way things are safe from cross contamination. My daughter just happens to run a Starbucks inside a grocery store and she said she gets asks no less than 10 times a day for gluten free even gluten-free/egg free offerings. She's been there a couple weeks now. At least get your drinks up to stuff for folks with allergies. PLEASE.

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    They needed to improve! When I last asked if there was anything gluten-free they pointed to a cake that had been sliced and served using the regular cake slice. It was inches away from regular cake too. In the UK Costa have gluten-free items separately wrapped, which is all we need to feel confident.

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    Last I knew the only drink they offered that was gluten free was plain black coffee. Has that changed? (And their coffee tastes awful.)

    Starbucks has the only gluten free chocolate, so mocha latte, hot chocolate, etc., are all available to you! Don't try the chocolate at Caribou, though. You will get sick. Not sure why Caribou hasn't gotten a clue yet, but it certainly gives Starbucks the edge for celiacs!

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    Finally! I'm still wondering why they can't make their specialty coffee drinks gluten-free across the board?! Grateful they are exploring more gluten-free food options and snacks!

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    Just wish they'd label things better. After some research, I discovered their Java chips are not gluten-free.That should be highlighted - who would guess chocolate chips would have flour in them?

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    The big issue is cross contamination with their beverages. I've been glutened there drinking seemingly safe drinks. Delving a little deeper I found blog posts from employees who talk about how they use shared cleaning tools for the bakery case and beverage prep areas.

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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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