My sweet husband innocently bought a bag of 100% tortilla chips made by Snyder’s of
Most people who are Celiac, gluten sensitive, gluten intolerant or allergic to wheat pretty much know which ingredients to avoid. For those of us who have been at this for a while, this is a no-brainer.
But, the package did carry an allergen warning: Processed in a plant that also handles peanut butter. His thinking was that since this was the only allergen warning, no other allergens were present.
Two hours later, he is in the bathroom violently ill. His waist expanded 7 inches causing a huge amount of pressure on his diaphragm. This went on for almost 12 hours when I was finally able to get him to our local doctor.
In this short time span, my husband went from a strong, healthy individual looking forward to the activities of the week to a seriously sick man. In this short time span, the gluten created much inflammation in his intestinal tract, causing enormous pain and resulting in diverticulitus and a long regimen of a strong antibiotic.
All of MY husband’s pain and suffering (and my stress) could have been avoided if Snyder’s of
had been truthful on their package labeling. Their customer representative
admitted to us that technically their 100% corn tortilla chips were gluten free
and the machines on which they were processed were cleaned between runs. This
person said that they run their “certified gluten free” products first, then
the products with no gluten containing ingredients next and then their products
that contain gluten.
The bottom line for this particular company is that they use the same machines for all of their products and rely on the integrity of the workers to properly clean the processing equipment from one run to another. This practice creates the ideal situation for the possibility of cross contamination such as my husband experienced.
If Snyder’s of Hanover had simply been truthful with a “processed on” statement that told customers the product was processed on equipment that also process wheat, my husband would have passed on the product. This company’s neglect resulted in my husband becoming very ill.
Snyder’s is not the only company that does not completely disclose vital information in “processed in” or “may contain” statements. They enjoy the spotlight with literally hundreds and hundreds of companies everywhere. American Importing, Inc. whose written response in a similar, but less severe, situation was “. . .We are sorry to hear of your situation. Obviously he is highly sensitive. In Kroger’s defense, there is no legal requirement to make a statement. All Kroger containers are packaged on shared equipment in shared air, so we recommend you pass on them in the future. . . .” This response was from their Company Support Team. Ghiradeli is another one I spoke with this week before to avoid another situation.
And, do you want to know the real sickening truth? Companies are not required to issue any allergen warning statement. Such statements are voluntary and are unregulated by FDA or USDA. That’s right folks. These statements are only as good as the integrity of the company. Folks, let’s face it. It is all about money and to heck with the health of people. The FDA rules concerning just how the paltry eight allergens recognized by FDA must be listed on food labels including “Contains” statements can be found at http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm079311.htm.
The bottom line is if one of the eight specific recognized allergens are no included in the product, the company has no further responsibility to warn consumers of the possibility of cross contamination during the manufacturing process. The consumer is basically on their own and has to become their own advocate.
There will be additional information coming later today about the steps consumers like my husband can take to protect themselves when buying groceries.
Author: Dr. Jacquelyn P. Horne.