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Polaner All-Fruit Jam with Fiber: Is it really Gluten and Sugar Free?

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Jennifer Arrington

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Polaner All-Fruit Jam with Fiber:  Is it really Gluten and Sugar Free?

How many of us find a trusted brand and happily spend the extra money to get that brand of that product so we don’t have to decipher labels each and every time we go to the grocery store?  I think of these products as “clean” – there is nothing in them that makes me sick and I can consume them without concern. 

For years I have purchased and consumed Polaner All-Fruit Jam.  With all their delicious fruit varieties, it has been my one “comfort” in the midst of the myriad of sweet sucrose-containing foods I cannot eat.  I put it on my gluten-free waffles and pancakes and sometimes even heat it up to make a fruit syrup.

Last Sunday I noticed my stomach was “blown-up” and cramping – the tell-tale sign that I’ve consumed gluten.  My husband had made brownies the night before, so I went through my kitchen, checking which utensils he had used, and asking him if he had possibly contaminated something I wasn’t aware of.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I endured more stomach cramping, headaches, fatigue, and mental confusion.  Friday, I woke up and thought I was better.  I decided I must have inadvertently eaten gluten from an outside source, and that I had recovered.  Then, I ate breakfast, and within the hour, the symptoms had returned.  All day long I worried about what my new intolerance was, how I was to find it, and how much more refined one person could make their diet.

Friday night, while making my daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I got out the Strawberry Polaner All- Fruit and noticed for the first time that the words “with Fiber” had been added to the label.  I immediately checked the ingredients and was astounded to see “maltodextrin” as an ingredient.  Just to the right of the ingredients, however, I saw the words “gluten-free.”  And therein lies the problem:  sometimes maltodextrin makes me sick, sometimes it doesn’t.  According to the celiac.com website, it depends on the source, and obviously Polaner’s source or manufacturing practices aren’t clean enough for me.  Maybe they don’t test their maltodextrin every time, maybe the maltodextrin comes from “shared equipment”, but whatever the reason, this product now makes me sick and I am thoroughly disappointed.

It is frustrating that a company has to take a pure product such as an all-fruit jam and add something unnatural in order to tout some health benefit.  I know it’s marketing hype, but, for goodness sake, we’re talking about jam—let people get their fiber naturally and on their own terms. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am relieved to have found the culprit, but once again reminded how very careful those of us with celiac disease/gluten intolerance have to live our lives.  Snatching a favorite product off the shelves without checking labels each and every time just isn’t an option, especially when it takes someone like me up to a week to find that culprit!

I contacted the company with the following statement:

“Why ruin a wonderfully pure product – Polaner All-Fruit - by adding maltodextrin to it?  I have been sick all week and finally realized the Polaner All- Fruit with Fiber new formulation is the culprit.  Maltodextrin, even when proclaimed "gluten-free," can cause problems for those with celiac disease/gluten intolerance.   I am so disappointed - yours was the jam I trusted and now I can no longer have it.  Let people get their fiber naturally on their own terms!  In my opinion, you have taken an outstanding "clean" product and ruined it.”

Within two days I received this cordial and informative response:

Dear Ms. Arrington,

 

Thank you for your correspondence regarding our Polaner All Fruit brand. So sorry to learn that you were not feeling well after eating our newly reformulated All Fruit.

In speaking with Polaner All Fruit users in 2008 and 2009, many told us they are not getting enough fiber in their diets.   The response among these current All Fruit users to the concept of taking Polaner All Fruit and adding natural dietary fiber to the recipe was positive.  The majority told us that if the taste and texture could remain the same, they’d prefer a new version that provides a good source of fiber in every spoonful.  We often heard – “you can’t get enough fiber.”

The maltodextrin we use in Polaner All Fruit with Fiber is a soluble fiber produced under the brand name Fibersol-2.  Derived from nature, it is a concentrated form of soluble dietary fiber and remains undigested by enzymes of the human digestive system.

Fibersol-2 is produced from cornstarch, a completely natural product, using a method that results in a digestion-resistant maltodextrin. This non-digestible portion of the maltodextrin is tasteless and odorless.  It is extracted and then added to Polaner All Fruit to provide the fiber benefit.

Fibersol-2 contains a very small portion of sugar (<0.5 g total sugar per serving) making it perfect for sugar modified foods including true sugar free foods.  Based on FDA regulation, any product using this type of maltodextrin is considered sugar free.

We regret that you did not share the positive response to our reformulated All Fruit we’ve seen from others.

We appreciate your comments. They will be shared with management.

I wish you well.

After reading this I began to wonder if my problem was more with the <0.5g sugar content then possible gluten contamination.  If their maltodextrin is derived from cornstarch and is not produced on “shared equipment,” then it should be gluten free.  (I could buy a home ELISA kit and test it myself!)   I did appreciate their prompt and detailed response, but the knowledge that companies can label a product sugar free even when there are tiny amounts of sugar frustrated me even further. 

Regardless of the cause, now that the product contains maltodextrin, I can no longer consume it.  I went to the store and scrounged around until I found one lonely prior-to-fiber jar on the shelf.  It was a jar of Polaner Grape and maybe I can make it last long enough until they revert back to their old pure product or at least offer it as an option.

If this new product is also causing you problems, I suggest you go to http://www.polanerallfruit.com/polaner/index.html and let them know. For now, I am in the market for a new, pure, all-fruit jam!

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Thank you for sharing your experience and getting an informative response from Polaner.

I will contact the company to ask that they continue to make the former recipe without fibe.

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Fortunately I noticed the change on the label before I opened the jar and returned it. I figured I just took down the wrong product, but when I went to the shelf again there was no more all fruit to be found. I wrote the company and got the same response you did, then googled all fruit fiber and found your post. Your letter to them was better than mine. I hope that enough people write them and they notice a drop in sales large enough that they return to the original recipe with no fibersol.

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Ii had a bad reaction to the Polaner Seedless Blackberry which does not say with fiber or list that ingredient. I wonder if they are using maltodextrin as a thickening agent and now it is subsumed under pectin on the label.

Thanks for your detective work I was wondering where they source their fruit, possibly China.

best, Paul

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Thank you for sharing this. I just learned about this new formula yesterday when visiting the supermarket. I am writing to the company as we speak and thought I'd do an Internet search to see if others are upset about the change. I hope enough of us contact the company for them to consider offering their old product in addition to the new version

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Guest Alice McFetridge

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I sent B&G an e-mail complaining that I found their Polaner Sugar Free With fiber Apricot preserves to be TERRIBLE! I don't know were you found the address to write to them but I will persevere and write to them. I always LOVED Polaner jams, but this new one with fiber is just AWFUL! Thanks for sharing.

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I thought I was the only one fanatic about what goes into the jam I feed my family...I just sent a complaint email to B&G Foods, as well! I have searched high and low for the original All-Fruit and after scouring their website today, understand it has been discontinued.

 

Not only could the maltodextrin be an issue for celiacs, it is associated with MSG and is a neurotoxin. Moreover, per the author's response letter from the company, it is manufactured using cornstarch from genetically modified corn, which is toxic in and of itself.

 

So, I too, will no longer purchase Polaner until they can bring back the original recipe. Shame on them!

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Hello...

and thank you for your letter and for bringing this to a larger audience's attention. Also of note is the label now includes "natural flavors", something that had never been there before. The direction they are taking, in my opinion has little to do with consumers voicing their concerns about lacking fiber. Their customers would lean towards being conscious of their diets to the point of sourcing fiber in the manner in which you mention, natural sources. The bottom line, is in fact the bottom line. This purely a move towards cheaper ingredients and hoping it would go unnoticed. I urge everyone to continue to push B&G to abandon this change and resort back to their original recipe and charge more if needed.

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Wow...my husband just called me from the grocery store to tell me about the fiber labeling on Polaner All Fruit! I googled and found this thread- thank you all for the information. My 5-year-old son and I are gluten intolerant. I am bummed about the product change. How ridiculous of them to add the maltodextrin.

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This Polaner stuff is disappointing. I don't have a gluten problem (as far as I know) but am allergic to corn. I just switched from Simply Fruit to the Polaner because I hadn't realized that all of the Simply Fruit is and/or sweetened with pineapple which I am off the charts allergic to. Isn't there an affordable, no junk added, jam or jelly out there? 1/2 PBJ is one of my go to breakfasts because of food allergies and diabetes. Most disheartening.

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The same thing happened to my son. He had such a bad week last week. He had terrible dark circles and what we call the "glazed-over" look he gets when he accidentally ingests gluten. When making him a pbj this morning I noticed the "with fiber" on the jelly label for the first time. My husband had done the food shopping last week and this was the only change in my son's diet. I was so mad at Polaner! The added fiber is just a marketing ploy. It seems even the basics are becoming more and more processed. If people were really interested in improving their diets they wouldn't eat "fake" sources of fiber; they'd eat foods in a more natural state.

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Guest Brigette Gallagher

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You all are correct in your statements. Maltodextrin is not natural (naturally derived does not mean natural), and based on the statements from Polaner to Ms. Arrington above, I now see that maltodextrin contains CORN STARCH! Corn starch has the potential, depending on the source, to contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that have been found to cause all kinds of health complications. When I could no longer find the ALL-FRUIT I've come to know and trust, I went organic like I have many other things that have tried to add fiber as a marketing scam. My daughter and many others I know have been having problems going to the bathroom. I kept assuming I needed to add more fiber. I just found out that the problem is that my daughter has been getting too much added fiber in the foods I thought were trustworthy. The problem is that she needs more of the fruit and vegetable fibers, and LESS of the starchy kinds of fibers found in breads and the foods with added fiber that contain maltodextrin. No wonder she can't go to bathroom! I'm sorry to say that I will no longer be purchasing All Fruit again until the added fiber goes away and they go back to truly being ALL FRUIT again. If they want to have a line of fiber added products, fine, but PLEASE provide the old stuff again for those of us who believe you shouldn't fix what is not broken!

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I too wrote the company to tell them I am profoundly disappointed in their decision to add maltodextrin to their products. The range of corn-free foods is already very narrow, and this is one more that must be deleted from my grocery list.

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I am so happy to learn I am not alone!!! I emailed the company when they changed the formula asking for the old one so I can start my own company. I couldn't be the only one out there who missed this as much as I did. I told them if I need extra fiber I will get it and it won't be in my jelly. This new product is terrible. The consistency is totally different bla bla bla bla.. I am singing to the choir. anyway I am in search of an organic product that is similar to the old one. any tips?

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There are some good "all fruit" sugar free options at Whole Foods Market They have their own 365 brand and they have 2 imported brands - Bionaturae (imported from Italy) and St. Dalfour (imported from France) which are excellent but double the price of Polaner. Apparently we can't make a pure all-fruit spread in this country!!! To me the extra cost is worth it! I hope this helps!

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I have been eating the Polaner jam with fiber and have NO adverse effects. I too have celiac disease but each individual has different tolerance levels. I obviously do not have a reaction to maltodextrin, and I do struggle to get in my fiber, so Polaner jams are a great option for me. Each individual needs to determine their tolerance level and make their OWN choices based on that.

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Dear Christine

Thank you for your reply.

Your policy on always labeling MSG is a good one.

But having unidentified flavors under "natural flavors" makes label readers suspect you of MSG.

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My first comment to Polaner's webform:

Go back to selling All Fruit. It was a simple and pure product. All Fruit with fiber is not what I want from this product. If I wanted sugar and synthetic sweeteners, I would buy preserves.

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Maltodextrin in the USA is sourced from GMO corn. GMOs, in their present incarnation, are defective products with hundreds of unintended gene mutations that can cause various illnesses. Perhaps that is why it makes you sick. See the movie, "The Future of Food."

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Guest Annette Del Rocco

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After reading all the above comments, I see I made a mistake in buying the one with fiber. I don't have to be on a gluten free diet. I loved the other fruit ones, without fiber. However, the bug really freaked me out. Please reply. I'm sure Stop & Shop will refund my money. Thank you.

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Guest Beverly Ferrigno

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I too stopped buying Polaner COMPLETELY! Although for different reasons. I am totally allergic to almost all kinds of processed sugars, one of which is maltodextrin. When I noticed the words "with fiber", I immediately read the ingredients and purchased a more expensive brand that I could ingest without having a HEART ATTACK! I also contacted Polaner with my complaint as well, stating that I believed their marketing decision was not a wise one. I used to be a chef, and I developed many recipes using their product, so now I buy another more expensive brand.

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Does Polaner market individual serving size packets like those served at diners, etc.? Our retirement community needs them but our food buyer says his wholesalers don't carry any jams or jellies with no added sugar.

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