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Great Specialty Company Owner Arrested for Selling Contaminated Gluten Free Bread
Celiac.com 02/04/2010 - Paul Seelig, the owner of the Great Specialty Products bread company in Durham, North Carolina, has been arrested and is facing felony charges for intentionally deceiving consumers by selling bread which he promoted as gluten free, when evidence shows it was not.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services began investigating Seelig after complaints flooded in regarding his breads that were sold at the North Carolina State Fair. An estimated 25 people have currently filed complaints against Seelig. Customers complained of reactions to his bread products ranging from rashes to vomiting & diarrhea.
State agriculture officials sent samples of Seelig's bread to a laboratory at the University of Nebraska (FDA facility), where test results confirmed the presence of gluten in his products. Tests of Seelig's products showed that his “gluten free” breads actually contained more than 5,000 parts of gluten per million; and for a product to be considered gluten free it must be less than 20 parts per million. However, Seelig still refuses to cooperate with authorities and provide information about where his breads come from. Therefor, a Judge ruled that Seelig cannot sell anymore products until he cooperates with investigators.
Seelig claims his breads have been rigorously tested for gluten. According to his website-which was shut down following a court order - it took two years of testing to make his gluten free bread. He also claims that if there was really gluten in his products, hundreds of complaints would have been filed against him.
Investigators say that Seelig is lying about his products, and at this point has not provided any evidence to prove otherwise. In fact, the investigation revealed information that Seelig's company, was buying gluten containing bread products from Tribecca Oven Company and repackaging the bread with gluten free labels. Additionally, according to Brian Long of the agriculture department, Seelig's company is run out of his house on Cardinal Lake Drive in Durham, North Carolina.
Seelig is not new to the court system. In 2001, he spent 4 months in Nebraska prison for several counts of fraud. For his current trial, Seelig has been using various stalling methods in an attempt to delay his trial date, including, claims that he has H1N1, was quarantined due to staph infection, had cancer treatment and even a heart attack. Contrary to previous Judge rulings, recent reports indicate that the hearing has now been moved to 2/24/2010, and bail is set at $100,000 due to his high flight risk.
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