I am on fire with frustration.The kind that burns inside you starting at the grocery store as soon as you pick up one of your staple gluten-free items and you find out – it’s no longer gluten free!What gives?You think I would be cynical enough by now to not be surprised when a manufacturer decides to add wheat or gluten to a product we’ve used often at our home: Corn Pops, Malt-O- Meal Cocoa Dynobites, Prego and now I can add another one to the list.
“Ingredients are No Longer Gluten-Free”
I hit the store yesterday to stock up on some necessities as well as some items I needed for Thanksgiving;one of the items on my list Orrington Farms Beef Flavored Base.I have been a loyal customer for about 2-3 years since I discovered it.The company had even started plastering ‘GLUTEN FREE’ on the front of the label!Now that’s commitment.
I started buying chicken first, then the beef.It was perfect.Then yesterday happened.I went down the soup aisle and I spotted the beef bouillon and grabbed it.However, that gluten-free note on the front of the label was gone.I thought that was odd and maybe they were just being more quiet about it and putting back near the ingredients.I turned the container over – sure enough – wheat – right in the ingredient listing.
My heart sank into the pit of my stomach.I think I uttered a curse word in my head, and then said “Now What?!”
Why Add Gluten to the Formula?
I have never been in the food manufacturing business, and I would be surprised if I ever would be.But I will never understand why a perfectly good product all of a sudden needs to contain “wheat starch”, “wheat gluten” or “malt”.Is it because nothing binds like wheat or the taste of malt is too wonderful to pass up?What it really probably is …the bottom line.
According to a 2007 report by Frost & Sullivan, a global market research firm, wheat is “the most profitable type of starch” for manufacturers.I am sure there are other reasons for companies to add this ingredient to their products.But in a time when many global economies are struggling, it wouldn’t surprise me that a company might add the wheat starch into a product, to save cash.
Orrington Farms wouldn’t offer me an explanation other than “there’s been an ingredient change”. The customer service person also explained to me that the website’s ingredient listing on the beef-flavored base is outdated (ingredients on there are currently all gluten-free).Clearly that doesn’t help any consumers out there looking for gluten-free products.
At this point the only recourse we have as consumers is to let companies know how their decision is impacting us and that they have lost a customer.And while our backlash may not be as big as the public outcry over New Coke in 1985 – maybe if we’re persistent enough we can get similar results.Any one for Corn Pops “Classic”? “Classic” Orrington Farms Beef Flavored Base also has a nice ring to it.