Wellshire Farms is in hot water today. In an exposé released today, staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Sam Roe, reports that the Wellshire Farms Kids Product line is tainted with unsafe amounts of gluten. The newspaper tested several products and found gluten in Gluten Free Chicken Corn Dogs, which tested at 116 ppm and 2,200 ppm, and Gluten Free Beef Corn Dogs which tested at 191 ppm and 1,200 ppm, and Gluten Free Chicken Bites which tested at 204 parts per million and 260 ppm.
According to Roe,
“Wellshire Farms provided the Tribune with its own testing results, conducted in the spring. Their results showed that the chicken bites tested at 200 ppm, chicken corn dogs 150 ppm, and beef corn dogs 120 ppm.”
“The nuggets,” said Steve Taylor, director of one of the nation’s leading food-allergy labs at the University of Nebraska, “are not safe for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease.”
The U.S. does not have strict guidelines for gluten free labeling, this is much unlike Europe which stands by the 20 parts per million standards across borders. As a matter of fact, gluten free foods there often have wheat starch in them and have been found to be perfectly safe for Celiac consumers based on their strict production guidelines. The FDA may adopt a 20 parts per million standard. Let’s hope Wellshire Farms does. People with celiac don’t want to worry about how accurate a gluten free product label is. Manufacturers like Wellshire Farms need to be accountable for improper oversight. Dirty food lines and lack of governmental standards are not acceptable. The USDA does not currently have a set standard for testing foods labeled as gluten free.
Roe’s article also named other manufacturer’s in its investigative report. The Tribune discovered that 47% of products recalled for hidden allergens since 1998 were not publicly announced. The biggest offenders are cookies, candy, ice cream, or snack foods.
Allergy sufferers should always look for labeling that states it comes from a dedicated facility. Consumers need to avoid products that are made on shared lines or made in the same facility as the allergen they need to avoid. Another good habit is to limit the amount of gluten free grain products consumed. The limit is 20 ppm, but some folks are so sensitive that even 5 or 10 could cause a reaction. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Roe claims, “Weak and murky federal rules on gluten leave food companies wiggle room and consumers at risk.”
Please check out the full article for more information.