Goody Good Stuff sweeties, to be precise.
They tick lots of free from / restricted diet boxes.
They’re vegan and halal, and make free from claims for gluten, lactose and gelatine.
(‘free from gluten’ is technically a labelling infringement — it should be ‘gluten free’ — but we’ll let that one slide).
They’re also free from most of the 14 allergens, so I imagine would be safe for lots of food allergy kids.
(Or indeed non-food allergy adults. Ahem.)
So far, so sweet — or so sour, in my case.
But — hello — what’s this on the back, under the ingredients?
‘May contain traces of wheat‘?
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF WHEAT?
How can a product be both ‘free from gluten’ and yet ‘may contain traces of wheat’?
Well, because wheat and gluten are two different things.
Wheat is a grain, which happens to contain gluten, a mix of proteins — but wheat contains other stuff too, such as fibre, starch, vitamins and non-gluten proteins.
These non-gluten parts of wheat are still wheat.
Might it be a non-gluten part of wheat which is at risk of cross-contaminating this product?
No prizes for guessing — yes.
This from Goody Good Stuff:
Goody Good Stuff is completely safe for gluten-free diets. The declaration is precautionary as within manufacturing processes wheat starch (free from gluten proteins) is used as a processing aid. The gluten content within our products is below 20ppm so following EU regulation our products are safe to consume for coeliac diets.
Why the precautionary warning, then?
it’s for people with wheat allergy, who may still react to non-gluten proteins in wheat starch — potentially quite severely.
Remember, gluten is not the declarable allergen. ‘Cereals containing gluten’ is the group name for the declarable allergen — namely wheat, rye, barley, oats (including gluten-free oats).
So ingredients derived from cereals containing gluten, but no longer containing gluten, or which have been treated to remove the gluten, or protected from cross-contamination from gluten (as with oats), still have to be declared as allergens, to help protect those with allergies to them.
It’s helpful for coeliacs to bear in mind that food allergen labelling laws and messages are there for other people, besides them.
Goody Good Stuff are labelling responsibly. I’ve suggested they change that warning to ‘may contain traces of gluten-free wheat starch’ — if only to curb the grumpy queries they regularly get on Twitter about it.
Incidentally, a related situation arises with gluten-free beers made from barley — and some other foods — which I wrote about here.
I ate the whole bag in one sitting.