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Almendra

When The Phone Call Is Different From The E-Mail (From A Company)

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Something recently happened to me that has my head spinning! It makes it harder and harder to trust companies with my health.

I e-mailed Revlon about several of their cosmetics. They took several days to respond, so I finally called them. The sweetest little customer service representative told me that every item (of 5) I asked her about was gluten free. I thanked her, and got off the phone.

Ironically, the next day, I received this:

"Thank you for your recent comments from the Revlon website and your interest in our products.

Unfortunately, because of the way cosmetic ingredients are made and transported, we cannot guarantee that a product is gluten-free."

Double-talking?

A huge difference between what they will put IN WRITING versus what can be said over the phone.

After some focus, I noticed that using their face products did proceed new breakouts over the next few days (after wearing the makeup - new zits discovered at the end of each day). These daily new eruptions stopped when I stopped using their products.

ALSO, I called Neutrogena. The representative told me that they have a list of gluten-free products, that the list is being updated. She also indicated that they "test" their products for gluten (at least periodically) by answering my query about one item and saying that it has not been tested yet.

She looked up "gluten-free" in the system, and told me that they had over 200 gluten-free products and let me know the names of the product-types I needed. She also told me that SHE DID NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO E-MAIL. ? I don't know what to believe. When an industry standard seems to be say anything over the phone - but be careful in writing...?

Has anyone else had similar experiences?

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I just had the same issue with Neutrogena when I asked about the sunscreen. They wouldn't answer the email. Said I had to call. I assume they don't want any health claims in writing. Maybe just a CYA because they have good products that appear to be gluten free.


 

 

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As I have said before, many times, NOBODY can GUARANTEE that their products are 100% gluten-free. NOBODY. There are just too many possible sources of accidental contamination that are beyond their control.


Peter

Diagnosis by biopsy of practically non-existent villi; gluten-free since July 2000. I was retested five years later and the biopsy was normal. You can beat this disease!

Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes diagnosed in March 1986

Markham, Ontario (borders on Toronto)

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator since 2007

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A few things are probably going on:

1. They are covering their own behinds in the e-mails so they are not going to say for certain either way.

2. The people you call may have no clue what "gluten free" means so they make up an answer that sounds good.

3. The people who answer the phone think "gluten free" is just a fad of some sort so they don't take it seriously enough to research.

4. At many companies the CS is outsourced, so they are not true representatives of the company and have no way of answering the question accurately if it's not in their script. The scripts often say to say yes to ambiguous questions so that the customer will be satisfied.

I wonder if you would get a different answer if you said you are "ALLERGIC" to wheat, barley, rye and oats and need to know if any of their products contain these ingredients.


A simple meal with love is better than a feast where there is hatred. Proverbs 15:17 (CEV)

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I did, in fact, let them know that these products could make me sick. After receiving an e-mail response from Oil of Olay that informed me that because their products are meant to be used externally that I should not worry - I must be the only one who ever gets food on her face and may lick it off without thinking *shame on me* (they also included some links to Celiac information, such as THIS website to educate myself!!!???), I did make sure to inform the representative that I have Celiac Disease.

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As I have said before, many times, NOBODY can GUARANTEE that their products are 100% gluten-free. NOBODY. There are just too many possible sources of accidental contamination that are beyond their control.

That does make perfect sense; however, where does that leave me/us? What am I supposed to do, then? Just give up, roll in the gluten-batter of life, and die?

Is resistance futile, Seven-of-Nine?

Signed,

A somewhat mentally exhausted person

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As I have said before, many times, NOBODY can GUARANTEE that their products are 100% gluten-free. NOBODY. There are just too many possible sources of accidental contamination that are beyond their control.

Yep! This is basically what Mary Kay Cosmetics said to me when I wrote to them recently asking for gluten information on a list of 5 specific products. While their response was received quickly within 1 week via US Mail, they politely told me that, because they use many ingredients from outside sources, they cannot guarantee that anything is 100% gluten free. They included a lengthy list of chemicals used, none of which I can pronounce, and that actually was good enough for me.

If I can't pronounce it, I don't want it on the biggest organ of my body, my skin; gluten or no gluten.

I did appreciate Mary Kay's honesty, though.


K Wylee

Gluten Intolerant, Positive test, June 2010

Casein sensitivity, Positive test, June 2010

Reactive to soy, most processed foods & preservatives, June 2010

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That does make perfect sense; however, where does that leave me/us? What am I supposed to do, then? Just give up, roll in the gluten-batter of life, and die?

Is resistance futile, Seven-of-Nine?

Signed,

A somewhat mentally exhausted person

What I do is recognize that there are no guarantees. So, I never use the word "guarantee" in a question. Nothing brings on the legal defense faster, and once you are in that mode, useful communication will not occur.

In many cases, it is better to ask if there is any wheat, barley, rye or oats in the product. With food, asking about the specific ingredient(s) that concern you will usually get a clear answer. "What is the modified food starch made from?" "Tapioca." (That is the answer most frequently, BTW.)

"We cannot guarantee" is being included in more and more cases, as a legal matter. Since I understand that the company is only being honest, I do not hold this against them if the answers are satisfactory otherwise. But, if the ONLY response is the CYA defense, skip that manufacturer completely.


Peter

Diagnosis by biopsy of practically non-existent villi; gluten-free since July 2000. I was retested five years later and the biopsy was normal. You can beat this disease!

Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes diagnosed in March 1986

Markham, Ontario (borders on Toronto)

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator since 2007

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What I do is recognize that there are no guarantees. So, I never use the word "guarantee" in a question. Nothing brings on the legal defense faster, and once you are in that mode, useful communication will not occur.

In many cases, it is better to ask if there is any wheat, barley, rye or oats in the product. With food, asking about the specific ingredient(s) that concern you will usually get a clear answer. "What is the modified food starch made from?" "Tapioca." (That is the answer most frequently, BTW.)

"We cannot guarantee" is being included in more and more cases, as a legal matter. Since I understand that the company is only being honest, I do not hold this against them if the answers are satisfactory otherwise. But, if the ONLY response is the CYA defense, skip that manufacturer completely.

Thank you, Peter!

I guess as a consumer having to suddenly seemingly try so hard to be safe, it is easy to read "We cannot guarantee..." simply as "Use at your own risk".

I rarely, if ever, use "guarantee" myself. But, because I do make it clear that it is a safety issue, I am sure my queries elicit legal defense jargon.

I am curious as to what exactly you mean by "CYA defense".

I do get plenty of lists of chemical ingredients after chemical ingredients that I need to check myself. Would this be an example? It seems to me that this ignores the possibility of cross contamination. Some company reps do not know where their tocopherols/Vitamin E's come from (or if they are gluten-free).

Acknowledging that it does seem possible that Vitamin E MAY be purchased at the lowest price possible from a distributor in bulk quantities (collected from multiple sources), companies may not even know if the tocopherols they use ARE safe for Celiacs.

I am not sure if my understanding (thus far) is correct. Please let me know.

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By the CYA defense, I meant the we can not guarantee disclaimers. If that is *ALL* you get in response to your query, go elsewhere.

Cross-contamination can occur anywhere, not just in the final manufacturer's facility. Unless they test each and every batch of each and every ingredient for gluten, they could receive contamination from an outside supplier. Even if they did test, the best available test can only detect 5 ppm. That's a very small amount, but it is not zero. This, combined with a lack of a legal definition of "gluten-free" is why most companies will not make a guarantee. Doesn't mean the product actually has gluten, though.

This article may help you understand what customer service reps are saying.

Long lists of chemical ingredients can be daunting, but but I can't think of any that are not gluten-free. (Dairy can hide there in Canada as caseinate, but in the US the work "Milk" must appear if caseinate is present.)

Many here seem to worry about tocopherols, but on the Canadian Celiac Association's list of gluten-free food additives, tocopherols appears without qualification. As a result, tocopherols are not something I worry about.


Peter

Diagnosis by biopsy of practically non-existent villi; gluten-free since July 2000. I was retested five years later and the biopsy was normal. You can beat this disease!

Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes diagnosed in March 1986

Markham, Ontario (borders on Toronto)

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator since 2007

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