Holy cow! Just when you thought no one was watching, the North Carolina courts show up the entire country by charging a so-called gluten-free baker with six felonies for falsely reporting the bread made by his company Great Specialty Products (GSP) was gluten-free.
The whole thing went down yesterday in a Wake County courtroom in Raleigh, NC. According to the Gluten Free Raleigh blog, Paul Seelig saw the evidence put before him which included:
- test results on Seelig’s “gluten-free” bread in Nebraska showed greater than 5,000 parts per million of gluten
- testimony from a gastroenterologist about celiac disease and the damage gluten can do to someone with celiac
- testimony from an employee who seemed to have no recollection of a gluten-free product
- the most shocking evidence from the State Department of Agriculture that found “… GSP was buying regular bread products from a company in NJ called Tribecca Oven and repackaging the products as GF [gluten free].”
Seelig is charged with six counts of “obtaining property by false pretense” and bail was set at $100,000 and he returns to court today at 2:00 p.m. eastern time.
This is an incredibly bold move by the state of North Carolina. I wonder what kind of precedence this will set for other companies. Will they be more cautious? Will they be more forthright, or will they skip trying to do gluten-free at all? Maybe this case doesn’t matter to other producers of gluten-free foods, because the companies don’t compare. This case goes BEYOND what other responsible, ethical business owners are doing with their gluten-free products. We’ll find out with time.
When it comes to the courts taking this progressive move, I think Gluten-Free Raleigh said it best back on January 21st,
“the state of North Carolina is enforcing Gluten Free product claims/labeling (via fraud) when the FDA won’t. It’s great to know that our state is actively protecting it’s citizenry, especially Celiacs who are often left fighting for themselves at every turn.”
If you would like to read more on this story or to follow future develoments, please check out the Gluten-Free Raleigh blog which has the court documents and more attached to the site. And of course we’ll be tracking the case here on The Savvy Celiac too!
Gluten-Free Raleigh, great job reporting!!