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madsunny

Major gluten-free Disappointment/a Bit Of Anxiety

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I just needed to vent a bit to some people who would (I hope) understand.

My local co-op carries a bunch of freshly-baked goods - cookies, muffins, brownies, etc - that are labeled "made without gluten" and/or "gluten free". I've been diagnosed with celiac disease & gluten-free for 2 years, and I've been eating these products for the past year. My health hasn't been perfect and I've been glutened a few times, but I've never been able to track from what...

Well, turns out, NONE of the products should have been labelled gluten-free. And they've just moved the muffins to the same case/shelf as the regular full o' wheat products. The crumbs are clearly all over the place (you can SEE this - it's not just the 'fear of crumbs'), and when I asked about it, I was told, oh yeah, nothing's at all gluten-free - it's all baked in the same place - flour, crumbs everywhere.

So, I'm mad at myself for trusting them, I'm mad at them for labeling something (clearly labeling!) gluten-free when it's not, I'm really disappointed that my local co-op, which I trusted, is apparently not trustworthy, AND damn, I'm going to miss those really, truly delicious chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin bars (like seriously, DELICIOUS, not delish for gluten-free, just plain fantastic even in comparison to regular baked goods!). And it was all local/organic too. Sigh.

And I can't help wondering how much gluten I've been eating! I feel incredibly stupid and kind of sad. It was nice to feel normal and go in and buy a fresh snack. Whole Foods and Starbucks are all frozen, and I'm not a huge fan of mass-made, pre-packaged stuff.

Anyway, I was just looking for sympathy - I'm not sure a non-gluten-free person would get why this was so upsetting.

thanks for listening!

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So what are you going to do about it ?

What kind of co- opt is this?

Who's the manager?

Who's the specific vendor who is making the falsely labeled product?

Does the baker know how the products are treated at the display case? Is the sales clerk clueless ?

Who issues them a license to sell products ?

Who do you report them to for selling a mislabeled product ?

I guarantee you will get a response out of somebody if you know what buttons need to be pushed. Start with your county Health Department.

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You have every right to be upset, what if this were your child that had been exposed to intestinal damage because of their carelessness? I've thought alot about cooking gluten free baked goods for others to sell since I love baking. But I would never take on a venture like that without knowing that whatever I cooked in and with had not been exposed to gluten. What if the "intolerance" was a peanut allergy? The result could be life threatening. I agree that they need to be "skooled" on how serious their misleading is.

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I hadn't really been thinking about doing anything, just was upset, and thinking it was mainly my fault for not suspecting or checking further into how these things were made.

I should really do what I can to make sure that their products are labeled correctly - and probably, that they put up a disclaimer saying that the food isn't gluten-free or safe for celiacs.

I don't know that I want to get the health dept involved, I think I'll see if there are some people I can talk to first. It is a local co-op that does a lot for the community and I'm a member, so I don't want them to get in a lot of trouble -- just that they change their signage and make things clear.

It's kind of sad how I tend to blame myself first - I guess I still haven't gotten over feeling guilty that I have this disease that (I feel like) inconveniences everybody around me.

Tomorrow I'm on a mission!

and thanks.

You have every right to be upset, what if this were your child that had been exposed to intestinal damage because of their carelessness? I've thought alot about cooking gluten free baked goods for others to sell since I love baking. But I would never take on a venture like that without knowing that whatever I cooked in and with had not been exposed to gluten. What if the "intolerance" was a peanut allergy? The result could be life threatening. I agree that they need to be "skooled" on how serious their misleading is.

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That's not just disappointing, it's dangerous! They are labeling something gluten free and it's making people sick. I would ask for the manager, and I would tell him or her about it, then ask what they are going to do about it. If the response is anything less than "We will immediately stop labeling these products gluten free" tell them you'll call the health department, the FDA and maybe even a lawyer if they don't immediately stop this. The labeling laws say they have to disclose wheat so they are in violation of the law, period. They also have to disclose that a product is made in a facility and/or on shared equipment with wheat even if the product itself is gluten free. Heck, you could start a boycott of the co-op and have people sign a petition that they won't shop there until they stop knowingly mislabeling products and making people sick. I know some people don't like to "make waves", but geez they could seriously hurt someone...

Sorry about the rant but I don't like to see people get sick or hurt...

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Ok, now I feel absolutely dreadful.

I don't want to see anyone get sick or hurt either.

I hadn't gotten from my emotional mess of a response to the situation to thinking logically about all the implications.

Really just found out about this tonight when I asked about the new cases. No one from the bakery was there and it was right before closing and I was just running for a quick snack after a long, long difficult day. And I **should** have figured this out sooner, if I had asked the right questions and been more careful.

I've got to get past feeling really stupid and remember that no matter how stupid I was to not figure it out sooner that doesn't absolve them for labeling things gluten-free when they simply weren't.

And I will go talk to the manager tomorrow!

(and because I have had a terrible, horrible, really bad day, I'm feeling really needy and mad at myself. so I'm sorry about seeming so self-centered in my first posts, really.)

That's not just disappointing, it's dangerous! They are labeling something gluten free and it's making people sick. I would ask for the manager, and I would tell him or her about it, then ask what they are going to do about it. If the response is anything less than "We will immediately stop labeling these products gluten free" tell them you'll call the health department, the FDA and maybe even a lawyer if they don't immediately stop this. The labeling laws say they have to disclose wheat so they are in violation of the law, period. They also have to disclose that a product is made in a facility and/or on shared equipment with wheat even if the product itself is gluten free. Heck, you could start a boycott of the co-op and have people sign a petition that they won't shop there until they stop knowingly mislabeling products and making people sick. I know some people don't like to "make waves", but geez they could seriously hurt someone...

Sorry about the rant but I don't like to see people get sick or hurt...

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Yes, you can be angry and disappointed and grieve the loss of your trust - and your good foods. Shame on them. They're clueless. It makes me love, love brands that I know are safe. There's a store not far from me that sells only things that are gluten-free. The whole store. She guarantees there is no need to read any of the labels - she's done that already. Against The Grain in Taylorsville, Utah. (Are we allowed to mention specific places? Her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease and she found it so difficult to find things that are safe that she started a store. God bless her!) Heck, buy a Betty Crocker gluten-free brownie mix, make it, and then eat the whole thing. With some nuts on it. And a few chocolate chips. It'll help. So sorry...

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It sounds like the coop has corrected the issue as soon as they realized there was one. I could be wrong but what seems to have happened is that someone who is perhaps not real knowledgeable about gluten and cross contamination issues was baking the products in the same kitchen where they were making regular baked goods. Even the big companies don't realize this can be an issue. There is no legal requirement for a company to state that gluten free items are made in the same facility as gluten items are. That is done voluntarily when it is on a label. If there were gluten ingredients in the items themselves that would be a different issue.

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It's sadder when you think you can trust them! I got accidently glutened by my brother! :lol:

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I'm really sorry, I had no intention of making you feel bad. When you're not feeling well, you absolutely need to focus on yourself first, so please don't feel bad about it. There is no reason whatsoever to feel guilty. Once you are feeling better, my suggestion would be to talk to the manager. Again, I'm really sorry, it was not my intent to make you feel worse when you already have to deal with so much.

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It certainly isn't your fault. I would place the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who did the cooking/packaging/selling.

They may not know any better, but its still their fault. I would certainly address this issue at some point. Possibly even getting other local celiac's involved.

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I have been in the food business for most of my life. You know when you prepare food for the public, you have grave responsibility to make it safe. This is pounded into you by your health department and most states even require you to pass a food safety course now. I have my license and am regularly inspected to maintane it. Any person preparing specialty food for a group of people who have a disease, is required to be responsible. And I think it's morally wrong for them to prepare and offer the food without a thorough understanding of the risks to the public. Why do you think so many people fought so hard for the labeling laws?

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This is what I'm afraid of about mainstream getting "on the bandwagon" so to speak. They're gonna half-ass it because it's seen as a fad/trend/whatever and it's going to get to the point where you can't trust ANYBODY because there's a buck to be made and by gum they're gonna make it! Look how many things were labeled "Atkins" or "South Beach" just to make a buck ... but those were food CHOICES and if you cheated on Atkins, nobody but your scale and your pants knew.

I've only been dealing with this PHYSICALLY personally for about six weeks now, but have been dealing with it familial-y since 1966 due to my mother - she was undiagnosed, but if there was a textbook for Celiac, she would have been on the cover. I'm preparing to do the genetic test just to soothe my mind that SHE had it. I purposely glutened myself yesterday as a check, and believe you me, I won't be doing THAT again.

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The least you could do is write them a letter and cc it to the Health Department. It will make them be on their toes in the future.

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Update on the original post -

I went to the store today and talked with bakery manager. He was very responsive and said that the staffer I'd spoken with last night (when I found out about this) had followed up and sent out an email to the staff. They had fixed one label and, while we were talking, he took down the remainder that said "gluten-free" so now all the products say "no gluten ingredients".

I suggested that maybe in the section where they kept the baked goods formerly known as gluten-free they put up a sign explaining their policy. He also told me that he was going to look into the specifics of how the gluten-free (and vegan, for that matter) goods are produced so that he could provide it to customers and people could make informed decisions about whether they wanted to buy these products.

Organic and conventional vegetables are kept strictly separate in prep and storage areas, for example, with dedicated areas and sinks and he thought this was the same for the gluten food. I really hope so - given that I've been eating it for a year! I have to say that I *don't* think it's regularly heavily contaminated, or I would have much sicker, much more often. I don't think, however, that I will keep eating it ... if I'm going insane for baked treats I'll either go across town to Whole Foods or bake something myself (although I did like buying just one cookie - living alone, it's a bad seen for me to bake a whole pan of brownies ... because then I eat the whole pan of brownies!).

I was pleased that they had made changes even before I came in and was happy with how the conversation went. I *don't* think there was any intent to deceive, and now that they've removed the gluten-free signage, their official policy isn't crazy (the no gluten ingredients signage). It was a bit scary to go in and be calm but firm, but I'm pretty proud of myself that I was the squeaky wheel here. Thanks for the encouragement and support from the forum!

But I'll keep an eye on them ;)

ps - RESO - thanks, I appreciated your note - I didn't think you were trying to make me feel bad, I was just wound up and emo last night :)

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The least you could do is write them a letter and cc it to the Health Department. It will make them be on their toes in the future.

This isn't really a health department issue. Even though we refer to it as "cross contaminated" they don't consider it to be unless the contamination is botulism or a bacteria, etc. It's not their jurisdiction. It is directed to the labeling laws. You are not going to get anywhere with that in one little shop. I think approaching them directly was the right thing to do.

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I am so glad you have made a difference in the world for speaking up.

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