General Product Warning: Check Your Lentils (including certified gluten-free lentils) for Foreign GrainTricia Thompson
Bottom Line: Gluten Free Watchdog has received a number of consumer complaints about foreign grain in packages of lentils. The most recent complaints are for Edison Grainery French Green Lentils and Beluga Lentils (both certified gluten-free) and Simply Nature Organic Green Lentils distributed by Aldi and labeled “naturally gluten-free food.” Please carefully inspect and wash all lentils that you purchase (see specific recommendations below).
Edison Grainery: The three most recent consumer complaints for this manufacturer involve a single errant grain in a bag of lentils. Edison Grainery told consumers that while it is difficult to identify the grains in question they are most likely wild oat, oat, or rice.
Gluten Free Watchdog sent a consumer photo (posted) of one of the grains to an oat farmer. We were advised that the grain in question was not a wild oat but likely barley. Unlike the multiple errant grains found in the Aldi product, the sample from the Edison Grainery product is too small to test using the R5 ELISA (we need at least 0.25 g of product). The consumer has agreed to send the grain to us for testing using the Nima. This may or may not work depending upon whether the seed can be ground into “flour” form. (As an aside—testing errant grains after grinding to determine if they are wheat, barley, or rye may be a good use of Nima).
Gluten Free Watchdog reached out to Edison Grainery for comment. They have not yet responded to our email. Please see the comment section for an update from Edison Grainery.
Aldi: Information about the Aldi product is available at https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/product-alert-simply-nature-organic-green-lentils-distributed-aldi-labeled-naturally-gluten-free-food/
- Purchase lentil-based products labeled gluten-free. Lentils are allowed by law to contain a certain percentage of foreign grain, including wheat, barley, and/or rye. That said if lentils are labeled gluten-free they should contain less than 20 ppm of gluten.
- Regardless of whether the lentils you buy are labeled gluten-free please do the following:
- If the lentils are canned: rinse thoroughly under running water.
- If the lentils are dry: pour onto a cookie sheet and pick through them. Rinse thoroughly under running water.
If you have access to historical data on GFWD, please look at the test results for the following lentil-based products:
Thank you to the ever-vigilant consumers who contacted us about these products.
The email below was received from Edison Grainery on December 14, 2016. It is posted here in full and unedited by permission.
“Thanks for joining us at Edison Grainery. We are indeed concerned about each bag of ingredients that we sell. Being Celiac too, we are aligned in the effort to provide quality safe food. As with all every item – we send a sample to an independent lab for microbiological and gluten levels analysis. Our standard is <5ppms. Lot specific lab results are posted online to allow customers to make an well informed purchase – or not . Until January 20th – the target installation date of a state-of-the-art color sorter and cleaner is installed – all items from the vendor in question have been placed into our HOLD & Release program.
Managing our food safety hazards and assessing our risk is an on-going preoccupation for Edison Grain Inc. This obsession goes hand in hand with our commitment to provide high quality, healthy food to our customers. We manage our exposure by developing strict in-house policies and adhere to legal and regulatory requirements as well as specific standards set by internationally respected agencies.
Our systems are verified through a framework of internal and external audits and certification programs, HAPC certification thru NSF, Organic certification via OTCO and Kosher certification through Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc) and we have consistently met their standards.
Edison Grain Inc. allocates the necessary funds to adapt to the ever increasing scope and complexity of food safety principles. As a small family operation, we realize and respect the relative cost of a stringent food safety program and its impact on our budget, earnings and business risk. We pledge to keep pace with the ever increasing compliance burden. Our commitment includes:
• Offering only premium certified Organic Products
• Offering products containing <10ppms of Gluten. Lot specific Certificate of Analysis verified by an independent ISO Laboratory are posted on both websites
• Meeting legal and regulatory compliance demands within national and international legal frameworks
• Maintaining certification and remaining in good standing with auditing agencies
• Keeping abreast of shifting legal, social, environmental and political events that impact the food industry on local, national and international levels
• Adhering to our rigorous Standards of Operation
Foundation of Our Food Safety Program is Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment.
To determine risk and identify the need for control measures, we perform a hazard analysis on each ingredient and its condition in receiving, production, storing and shipping. To determine potential hazards we consult data from a variety of outside sources including legislation and regulatory guidelines (e.g., in identifying allergen and pathogen hazards), research and technical documents, recall and alert notifications (e.g. FDA/USDA/OTCO), general news and information outlets, and customer comments.
All Data is Reviewed and Analyzed during Our Validation Process.
Our control measures begin with vetting and approving our suppliers. In the ever increasing complexity of a verifiable food supply chain program, we pride ourselves in developing both professional and personal relationships with our suppliers. Recognizing the significant impact of globalization, we have added a Regulatory Compliance Officer to administer our Supplier Approval Program which includes obtaining, reviewing, assessing and keeping data current on vendors.
A hallmark of our control process is that every lot of every ingredient is submitted to an independent ISO/IEC Standard 17025:2005 certified lab for microbiological and gluten level testing. The results serve as our lot specific Certificate of Analysis (COA). We share product information and COAs with our customers on our websites: edisongrain.com and edisongrainery.com . Edison Grain’s control program continues throughout production, including measures such as metal detection and allergen control, and does not end until the product has shipped.
Of Paramount Concern is Sanitation.
Management’s real-time observations documents that proper equipment cleaning procedures have been followed. It is an essential requirement that the procedures be monitored and validated, and clearly documented as it actually occurs. Variations are noted on daily reports. Verification of our SSOP includes visual, ATP swabs and routine 3rd party examination. Our employees are trained in all SOP categories. Full records of all training are kept as part of our protocols.
Customer Satisfaction is our Guide Post.
Edison Grain Inc. would undertake strict food safety measures regardless of regulatory mandates or commercial standards. Simply put, it is the right thing to do. To build a business dedicated to selling organic, gluten free products (tested for <10ppms) without being equally committed to the safety of that food would not make sense for us or our customers. To that end, we have allocated significant financial resources and employed aggressive risk management measures to ensure food safety and quality.
In the first quarter of 2017, we are excited to add a state-of-the-art Optical Laser Color Sorter which will detect and remove defective product and foreign material.
We run a tight ship, and we are proud of it.
The Barnes Family"
I buy buckwheat from Edison Grainery. Some of the bags have had a few foreign grains but most don’t. (I haven’t found any lately.) I visually shift through all of it to be sure nothing foreign gets into my food. I will say that their buckwheat is far less contaminated than what I used to buy from Nuts.com. (Those grains were definitely in the gluten family, as I got a strong positive when I used a home kit on them.) Since buckwheat is a rotation crop, I assume shifting through it is just something I’ll have to keep doing.
Tricia, do you know if Edison Grain was/is manually sorting their products? Once their “state-of-the-art optical sorter” is operating, will ALL of their products go through this sorter? I wonder why the manufacturers/suppliers of grains appear to have difficulty identifying foreign grains (i.e barley as opposed to oats or rice) as they are in the grain business? And it’s not just this particular company. May I suggest that if they were able to better identify the foreign grains in their products, they might be able to identify the source of the cross contamination, and therefore, minimize the risk to the consumer. I appreciate Edison Grain outlining their protocol and making it available to the public.
I don’t know any specifics about Edison Grainery but grains and legumes are mechanically sorted at least to some degree. Otherwise they would be full of sticks and stones. Keep in mind that regular grains and legumes not grown under a purity protocol (most of them) arrive at a mill or processing plant with varying degrees of “contamination” from other grains, legumes, stones, sticks, etc. While most foreign material may be caught some may slip through the cracks. If manual inspection is involved those doing the work may have been trained to spot errant grain. But grains can look alike. This is why sophisticated optical sorting machines may prove very helpful.
I recently bought a bunch of green lentils from Nuts.com that were advertised & labeled as certified organic and gluten free. Nuts.com told me that they test the lentils for gluten, but I found 33 kernels of grain in about 6 cups of lentils. I have never seen that much foreign material in lentils before. And about 30% of the lentils looked withered, rotten, or diseased, so I am currently trying to get a refund. The country of origin for the lentils was China. I think I’m going to take my chances with certified organic lentils that were grown in the US or Canada and just sort through them for any grain and rinse them really well.
Any follow-up to this? “In the first quarter of 2017, we are excited to add a state-of-the-art Optical Laser Color Sorter which will detect and remove defective product and foreign material.”
Hi Patricia, I do not have any additional information at this time.
Edison Grainery products are not certified gluten free through an organization such as the GFCO. I think stating that their products are certified gluten free is misleading. Edison’s gluten free claim is equivalent to the FDA labelling requirements for gluten free products, from their website: “Verified Gluten Free means that the product has been tested to ensure that gluten levels are below 20 parts per million (ppm), the FDA-established level for food carrying the gluten-free label”.
In comparison products certified gluten free have to be meet gluten free standards above and beyond simply testing the finished product: “GFCO Established in 2005, The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), an industry program of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), is dedicated to providing certification services to producers of gluten-free products using quality assessment and control measures throughout production, in order to provide assurance to consumers of the safety of their foods.”
Hi, Please see photos posted along with this blog and note the Certified Gluten-Free mark from GFCO on product packaging. The products in question were certified by GFCO. It is my understanding that GFCO no longer certifies products from Edison Grainery.
Any brands of gluten free lentils you’d recommend? Having a lot of trouble finding any lentils with GF certification.
Hi Emily, Avena has purity protocol lentils but they need a packer to get them into the marketplace. Fingers crossed they find one soon.
Thanks – I’ll keep my eye out! There is such a need for this, fingers crossed.