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

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


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?

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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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29 Responses:

 
Paul
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
24 Mar 2017 9:49:52 AM PDT
Seems like they also left soy out of the Allergy Information list:

Allergy Information
Contains: Milk, Egg

The ingredients do list soybean oil.

 
Regina Smith
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said this on
25 Mar 2017 12:13:51 PM PDT
Which item had the soy oil?

 
Alice
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said this on
27 Mar 2017 6:19:39 PM PDT
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.

 
Stef
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said this on
24 Mar 2017 2:12:36 PM PDT
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.

 
Ella
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 1:37:24 PM PDT
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.

 
Sadiebux
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said this on
03 May 2017 3:46:31 PM PDT
It's still cooked in the same oven as the rest of the sandwiches. Our store uses separate tongs for GF.

 
Katherine Keys
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said this on
26 Mar 2017 3:55:47 AM PDT
I purchased a gluten free sandwich from Starbucks yesterday for breakfast. It was served in a sealed wrapper marked with the CERTIFIED GFree 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.

 
Jefferson Adams
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 1:49:24 PM PDT
Thanks for your comment. It's good to know that the sandwich has a gluten-free label. So far, the feedback looks good.

 
Tina
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said this on
27 Mar 2017 9:24:40 AM PDT
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 GF 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 GF for other health issues or desires besides those of us with celiac, we don't have the corner on that market.

 
Pam Lewellen
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 3:59:53 AM PDT
Tina, why do you sound so angry. The article only states facts and just wants people to be aware to always check GF foods out.

 
Jeff Adams
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said this on
27 Mar 2017 12:39:57 PM PDT
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.

 
susan
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 2:58:07 PM PDT
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 GF 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.

 
James
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said this on
27 Mar 2017 1:10:30 PM PDT
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.

 
Huntress
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said this on
27 Mar 2017 4:35:47 PM PDT
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.

 
Glutengirl
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said this on
27 Mar 2017 9:16:48 PM PDT
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.

 
Jefferson Adams
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said this on
29 Mar 2017 10:07:44 AM PDT
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.

 
Melody
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 4:58:04 AM PDT
I'm a celiac for 17 years now. Just had one yesterday. No issues at all.

 
Kelley
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 5:58:49 AM PDT
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.

 
MamaT
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 6:54:48 AM PDT
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!

 
Ella
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 1:34:19 PM PDT
At first I was thinking it's just to satisfy the GF 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 GF 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.

 
THOMAS A. STAREFOS
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said this on
28 Mar 2017 2:33:46 PM PDT
Thank you Stabucks!

 
GFDad
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said this on
29 Mar 2017 11:17:26 AM PDT
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.

 
Jefferson Adams
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said this on
30 Mar 2017 10:28:27 AM PDT
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.

 
Laura
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said this on
30 Mar 2017 11:56:17 AM PDT
I had one today and thought it was great. I am very sensitive celiac and had no problems. Very happy to have this option!

 
Jefferson Adams
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said this on
02 Apr 2017 12:59:44 PM PDT
Thanks for your comment! The early reports from people with celiac disease seem to be favorable. Starbucks seems to have worked hard to get it right. Their disclaimer is still a bit confusing, but it's good to hear that people seem to have no gluten problems so far.

 
Jane
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said this on
31 Mar 2017 10:37:16 PM PDT
I didn't know about the labeling issues - I tried this sandwich today and thought it was decent. Did notice the GF label on package. I saw one in the case, opened, and asked the clerk if it contained buckwheat or another darker GF 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 GF commercial products). I find the labeling odd too though. IF it is tested GF and safe for celiacs then why the disclaimer? Says is made in a GF facility. So where's the gluten? Where did the ingredients come from? Is the buckwheat (and other flour) certified GF? 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.

 
Gina
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said this on
04 Apr 2017 9:26:21 AM PDT
I ordered one yesterday and asked for them to keep the bag sealed. The barista stated that is how they were trained to serve it. It was very yummy.

 
Erin
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said this on
08 Apr 2017 10:40:42 PM PDT
I think the disclaimer is very clear, they are clearly stating that they are not a GF environment as a STORE but provided the AWESOME details about how the product IS Gluten Free when handled as expected. I think it's good to provide information, but this article seems to incite more panic and upset than is necessary. A Certified GF product is Certified Gluten free and if anything, all that is needed here is a pointer to the buyer to make sure they remind the person taking the order that the sandwich needs to stay in the bag it came in. This is overkill.

 
Colleen
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said this on
31 Aug 2017 11:43:49 AM PDT
I know I'm late to the discussion, but I hope to help if there is any confusion for anyone else. I have worked at Starbucks for 9 years. I have two kids who both have Celiac (one of whom is also a Type 1 diabetic). I feel so bad all the time when they see all the food and drinks that they can't have (they are 6 and 8 years old). I have noticed the prepackaged snacks that Sbux partners with are becoming more Celiac friendly. As far as the GF breakfast sandwich, the packaging states "certified gluten free" with the same label I see on foods that I buy specifically at the grocery store. The packaging is sealed, but it's cooked in the same oven as everything else there. Did I mention it's cooked in it's original paper packaging. I always use clean tongs when removing this sandwich so I don't get any other foods on the outside package. That way my kids' hands don't touch miscellaneous crumbs. But that's what I do because I'm aware of the problem. And you can always feel free to request the barista to do the same for you. So far neither one of my kids have had a reaction to this, and they love it. They can finally eat something that came from behind the counter at mommy' s work. As far as the allergen statement, I know they put that on everything. I am freely able to read ingredients lists and disclaimers on the product boxes too. But I feel confident the manufacturing of the GF sandwich is gluten free. They have to say that because the warming of it takes place in a shared oven. Just make sure you inspect the seal of the bag, that it wasn't broken during warming (I've had some that did and I either made a new one, for my kids, or asked the customer if they are ok with the broken seal). If it was broken you can always request a new one to be warmed. Hope this helps everyone!




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