The Healthy Celiac Podcast

To Name and Shame Misleading Gluten Free Labeling or Not?

May 30, 2022 Belinda Whelan Season 1 Episode 60
The Healthy Celiac Podcast
To Name and Shame Misleading Gluten Free Labeling or Not?
Show Notes Transcript

Today I am discussing whether or not we should publicly name and shame businesses that are doing the wrong thing when it comes to gluten free labeling or causing accidental glutening in restaurants or cafes.


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Speaker 1:

So on today's episode, I wanna talk about what happens when a business or a company, either glutens us accidentally, or has somehow misled us so that this happens and what we need to do as not only consumers, but celiacs, so that it doesn't happen to other people. And talk about some other situations that have occurred in the past and what we think of those. So let's jump straight into it. So the first situation that I want to talk about with you is labeling. So in Australia, we have very, very strict labeling laws. And I know that in various countries, the labeling laws differ. So for example, I saw a post in one of the Facebook groups that I'm in recently, and it was about a package that had on the front of it , very, very clearly labeled gluten free . And then on the back, it had a may contain gluten statement. So here in Australia, if something's labeled as gluten free , it cannot also say may contain gluten it's. It's just, it's just not how it's done. That's not how our labeling works here in Australia. And that it sounded like they were covering their butts by saying that there could have been cross-contamination from the raw ingredients. Well, that's not okay. That's not how our labeling laws work. And this product was referred onto the , um, onto celiac Australia for them to follow up with. And that's who basically looks into these problems and sorts them out and goes to these companies and makes sure that they're labeling their products correctly. So in this instance, I think it is good to call these companies out because they are doing the wrong thing and they are misleading people by mislabeling their products. They need to label their products correctly. So in this situation, yes, I think they do need to be called out and they do need to be told. I called out a company last year. It's a brand that I've been buying from for 15 years and they were mislabeling a product. And what they were doing was it's an American company, but they import their products into Australia and they had oats in the product. So for those of us here in Australia, we know we cannot have any products with oats in it to have gluten free labeling. And what I did was I came across this product and I was going to eat it. And I realized that it had oats in it. So there was no way that I was going to eat it. So what I did was I contacted the company and I gave them the information straight away rather than, you know, calling them out and saying, Hey, you've mislabeled. This you've done the wrong thing, blah, blah, blah. I gave them the information and told them why they were incorrectly labeling their product. And that they , they were fine for America, but they were not fine for Australia. They were misleading consumers in Australia. And they were actually not following the Australian labeling guidelines here.

Speaker 2:

So lo and behold, before a blink of an eye, that company did the right thing, they followed up. They let me know that. Thank you for letting us know it was a MIS , it was a Misha in, you know, the situation they apologized profusely and they went and relabeled their products as quick as possible. So they did the right thing. So in that situation, I didn't need to call out their name. I didn't need to badmouth them on social media. It was just one of those situations where, you know, these things happen . Sometimes things slip through, but when you come across them, you can, you can approach them. You can let them know and you can follow up with them. And other times, you know, you can , you can spread it out there on social media. If you think that it's gonna keep people safe. But I knew that this company would legitimately own up to the fact that they'd done the wrong thing and that they would, they would make it right. Whereas some of these other companies, I do feel like they are, you know, trying to trick us. So it, it takes a little bit of , um, I guess what , uh , what , what would be the word? It would take your, your instincts, I guess, to , to feel what is right. Whether it needs to go straight to celiac Australia or whether you can go to the company and talk to them about it first. So it it's totally up to you how, how to go about it. But I don't think that we always need to badmouth companies because there are a lot of companies that are out there doing their best and, and wanting to do the right thing by us. And I do think that when we badmouth some companies that they're just gonna get their back up and they're not going to want to provide us with gluten-free products. So it's one of those things where we've gotta weigh up the pros and the cons, which way about it. We want to go, whether we go straight to celiac Australia, obviously here in Australia or wherever you are, what , what your , um , association is or where , whether you go straight to the labeling , um , head honchos, I dunno , in each country how that works, but for here in Australia, celiac Australia are the ones that take care of that for us. So totally up to you, which way you wanna go. Now, another situation I saw on actually Instagram. So I took some screenshots, cuz I wanted to actually read out what was said. And, and basically, I don't know if you've come across this term, but it's gluten friendly. It is terrible. I hate the term gluten , gluten friendly. That doesn't mean anything to us with celiac disease. It's a load of rubbish, but basically this business, they are a whole foods , um, bulk food company and you go in and you fill up your containers or your bags with your bulk food. And what they were advertising was a jar that was preloaded with a

Speaker 3:

Gluten free blend of different items that would make a , um, it was a bakery item. So they had on it gluten friendly . So let's just say it was brownie mix. So gluten-free uh , gluten friendly, sorry. Brownie mix. So someone that doesn't know better would probably think, you know, maybe that's okay for a present. You know, someone might come across that and go, oh wow, that's a really nice present for Belinda. I'm gonna buy that for her. Cuz it's gluten friendly and they don't know any different. So what was said on this post was someone wrote, so it has gluten in it and they responded with none of the ingredients contained gluten, which is, is not a lie. Is it right? So someone then wrote, well, that's confusing. I'm glad it's safe though. And then they came back with another response because somebody said , um, I see what this person's saying, but because I have celiac disease and react very violently to the tiniest amounts of gluten, such as cross contamination , can you absolutely guarantee that this is a hundred percent gluten free ? Usually the term gluten friendly means it's very low gluten, but still not safe for celiac. Gluten friendly tells me to steer clear. And so the , the whole foods place has replied with, yes, you're correct. We can't guarantee this product is a hundred percent gluten free . Um, but if you have celiac disease, you can purchase these ingredients from us through buying from uh , you know, brand new open containers and fresh scoops. So that there in itself they've done the right thing. They've answered the questions. If someone hadn't asked, is this celiac safe? Then that whole thread, that whole conversation could have been quite misleading. Now it went on to , to say that someone was reporting them to celiac Australia and that this would be followed up. But again, you know, are they trying, are they trying their best? Are they, are they being educated? So this is another thing. When we come across these situations, they may never even been educated on celiac safe. They may not have ever really understood the fact that there is cross contamination . So here in Australia, we call it cross contamination . I know in many countries it's called cross con cross contact . Can't get my words out. So cross contact in Australia, we call it cross contamination . So I'm not talking about what , um , you know , cross contamination with food poisoning, things like that, basically cross contact . So in this situation, this company may this business, sorry, it's a small business, it's a family run business. They may not have had that education. So it's about helping them to learn what they need to do to keep us safe. I personally used to shop at bulk food stores. I don't anymore.

Speaker 4:

I , I just don't trust it. I was going through a very silly phase of caring, more about the environment than caring about my health. And when COVID hit, I was like, my God, I can't keep doing this anymore because it just didn't feel safe. And when I stopped that I did reflect on how silly that was, that I was putting the environment before my health. So I personally am, am gang shopping at bulk food stores now, but it's, you know, these businesses, if they are saying that you can be served safely from a new bag of product and they do it themselves. And then there's no risk of that cross contact . Then again, that's, that's really good that they're giving you that option and offering to keep us safe. So I , I wouldn't, I wouldn't DOB that company into celiac Australia. I don't think that they've done anything wrong. This is where it comes in that we need to educate them and help them to be better. Now, the next one is restaurants and cafes, things like that. So we're seeing more and more, this stupid terminology of gluten friendly. So it's basically where they're covering their butts and saying it's gluten free , but it's, it's not, <laugh> it. It's gluten friendly. And who are , who are they friendly to? They're not friendly to celiacs, are they? They're not looking after us. They're just giving a gluten free option that they're not exactly saying is gluten free . But what happens when you go to a restaurant or a cafe and you ask all the questions and you do all the right things and you get glutened and they've sworn to you that they're not gonna make you sick because this, that and the other. And they've , you know, maybe they've got a separate deep fryer. Maybe they've got a separate preparation area. Maybe they've done all of these things to keep you safe, but you still get sick. Do you then go and call out that business? Because I know of someone recently that did this and it was actually in the news and this business was plastered all over. You know, the internet, as far as news websites go and being slammed for making someone really, really sick because they went there, they asked all the right questions. They were promised that everything would be safe, but that person still got really, really sick. So this person went to the media and called that business out. Now for me, that business is not going to try. Now, they're not even going to offer any gluten free options. They're not going to improve their, their training of their staff. They're not gonna try and improve their preparation areas. They're not going to bother because they have been slammed across the internet that no one with celiac disease will go to that business. Now, people that need to eat gluten free , probably won't go to that business either. So in this situation, what are

Speaker 5:

Your thoughts? Do you think it's worth calling these businesses out publicly or do you think it's worth going to them and educating them and helping them become a better business? I, I personally have not gone back to businesses where I've been violently ill from being gluten. But having said that we are talking many, many, many years ago where I probably wasn't asking all the right questions and I probably wasn't as switched on back then. Whereas now I know what to ask. I know what to look for. I know the red flags, I know the warning signs, so touch wood much safer these days. But having said that if I did get glutened now, I would probably approach that business. Once I felt better and let them know what had happened and just educate them and let them know what they need to be changing, what they can be doing to keep people safe, like us to move forward. Because if all of these businesses get slammed that accidentally gluten people, then we are never gonna get to eat out. We're never gonna have the options. These businesses will be too scared to even offer the option of gluten free . So that's just my 2 cents . That's my thought. But I would love to open the conversation up of this on Instagram and hear what you have to say, because yeah, it , it , it can be a bit of a controversial one, but do you sort of see where I'm coming from? That if we call out all of these businesses, we will no longer have the option. They will just put their hands up and go. This is too hard. This is not worth my time or effort and no one wants to be bagged out online. Do they? No one wants to have their name flooded, you know, up in lights with, with bad news. That is not what we want. And especially when it's small businesses, I , I think when it's small businesses, it's much easier to approach them. And it's much easier to talk to them and give them feedback and ask for support and ask for more information and give them the guidance to improve their business. So I'm gonna hand it over to you guys. I would love to hear from you personally, if you've got any feedback or any experiences, any brands or products that you have , um, supported in moving forward to be a better product or a restaurant that you've given guidance to, you don't have to name and shame at all. I don't need to know names, but you know, if, if you've had a better experience because of giving positive feedback, I would love to hear from you. So my handle on Instagram is the healthy celiac. So you can send me a direct message there, or just joining the conversation on Instagram, on one of my posts that's relevant and go from there. And also if you wanna send me an email, you're more than welcome to do that as well. So my email is info Belinda wheelin.com . So as every other week, I hope you've enjoyed this episode. I would love to hear from you and thank you for being here today and sharing these insights with me. And I really look forward to talking with you again next week, have a fantastic week, and I will talk to you then take care.