Grading the Canyon Bakehouse RecallTricia Thompson
UPDATE: The recall has been amended to include expanded distribution for the Canyon Bakehouse Everything Bagels and now includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.
Bottom line: Canyon Bakehouse handled this recall very well. What happened should serve as a lesson for all manufacturers of gluten-free foods. Testing at risk raw ingredients for gluten before they enter the facility should be de rigueur. A dedicated gluten-free facility doesn’t matter if “dirty” ingredients are allowed inside.
My biggest concern at this point is with the supplier of the ingredient that contained enough gluten to cause a recall of the final product. If the supplier is representing product as gluten-free, they should be notifying all other manufacturers of gluten-free foods who purchased the impacted ingredient. IF the supplier sells this ingredient as a labeled gluten-free product to consumers, then the supplier should be issuing their own recall.
Recall timeline: On December 3rd, 2020 Canyon Bakehouse announced a recall on their website and on social media that they were recalling two products with certain lot numbers and UPC codes–Mountain White Bread and Everything Bagels. Their initial post stated:
“Recently, internal testing of some finished baked goods revealed the possible presence of gluten outside of GFCO standards. Unfortunately, a small quantity of this product was inadvertently shipped to the marketplace.”
A follow-up announcement on December 4th provided additional detail:
“Our team immediately flagged the affected products and put them in a separate hold area so they could be properly disposed of. We traced the issue to an isolated ingredient supplier. Where we dropped the ball is that some of the affected product was inadvertently shipped from the hold area. That should not have happened. We’re investigating to find out how it did and put additional safeguards in place to ensure it doesn’t occur again. This all started as an isolated supplier issue, though, and we’re developing an even more robust supplier audit process to ensure our standards are met. We hope to implement that soon.”
Based on many years of dealing with manufacturers, misbranding, and recalls (and refusals to issue recalls), Canyon Bakehouse handled this recall very well. They announced the recall on their website and social media, they notified their certifying body, and they notified the FDA. In addition, they thoroughly explained what happened, owned their mistake, apologized for the error, and vowed to do better.
My biggest concern at this point is not with Canyon Bakehouse, but with the supplier of the ingredient that caused the recall.
Email correspondence with the manufacturer: I reached out to Canyon Bakehouse with the following questions:
1. Do you either test incoming “raw” ingredients, such as sorghum flour and cultured brown rice flour for gluten or do you request a certificate of analysis from suppliers that includes gluten testing?
2. Can you please provide additional information on the ingredient that was found to contain gluten?
3. Is the supplier of the problematic ingredient notifying other manufacturers about potential cross contact issues?
Canyon Bakehouse replied:
Adhering to GFCO guidelines, we carefully screen our suppliers and require them to provide a Certificate of Analysis that their ingredients contain less than 10ppm (parts per million) of gluten. In this case, we are working with the supplier to determine what happened on their end and are developing a more robust supplier audit process to ensure our standards are met and this does not happen again.
My response back:
My concern is whether the supplier of the problematic ingredient has reached out to other gluten-free manufacturers about potential issues with gluten cross contact. If the ingredient is a flour, it is likely that it contains heterogeneous cross contact that may or may not be detected during testing. Is it possible for you to let me know the ingredient?
Canyon Bakehouse replied:
Regarding your question, because the supplier’s continued cooperation in this process is both needed and appreciated, we would prefer not share further specifics regarding the ingredients.
I understand the position taken by Canyon Bakehouse. They are responsible for their products. BUT if the supplier is representing product as gluten-free, then the supplier should be notifying all other manufacturers of gluten-free foods who purchased the impacted ingredient. IF the supplier sells this ingredient as a labeled gluten-free product to consumers, then the supplier should be issuing their own recall.
What happened with Canyon Bakehouse should serve as a lesson for all manufacturers of gluten-free foods. Manufacturers should consider testing at risk raw ingredients for gluten before they enter the facility. A dedicated facility doesn’t matter if “dirty” ingredients are allowed in the door.
For more information on the recall see https://canyonglutenfree.com/stories/mountain-white-everything-bagels-recall/
Will Canyon Bakehouse disclose the contaminated ingredient and supplier once the company has finished its investigation? Even more to the point, won’t the supplier in question be legally obliged to make a statement and/or recall?
Thanks so much for your work. I had not heard about the recall and I buy these products fairly often, although I don’t live in one of the states that received the contaminated goods.
I will reach back out to Canyon Bakehouse at some point. If the supplier sells this ingredient retail and it is labeled gluten-free, then yes, they should alert FDA and issue a recall. Trouble is, we really don’t have enough information at this point.
Thanks for all your good work! Even though I am in Canada, your efforts have a reach even in Canada.
You may recall my former work on the Gluten-Free Certification Program to improve the performance of gluten-free products carrying its logos to be safe. Also, being a late-diagnosed celiac, I carry on my interest when a recall happens. Using my experience, I reviewed the list of ingredients of both products and see that the only common ingredients are whole grain sorghum flour, yeast, enzymes which Canyon Bakehouse should be investigating them and their suppliers. My bet is they may find the problem in the whole grain sorghum flour as the highest risk and the one in which “wheat” was also mentioned in the official recall.
You are correct that if a supplier(s) is found to be at fault, they should be issuing their own recall. Under the USA Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the equivalent in Canada, if the supplier offers ingredients as gluten free, they are subject to the same process of investigation and required actions, if found to exceed gluten content, and same penalties would apply. More actions may be coming as FDA digs deeper.
Keep up the good work, please!!
Good reasoning, Frank. That sounds plausible.
Hi Frank, It is good to hear from you. I agree that sorghum is a likely culprit. You have a bit more faith in FDA than I do. If the ingredient is labeled gluten-free then FDA should investigate. We shall see.
Good to hear from you!!
I have seen in the recent past where further investigation by FDA has resulted in extension of investigastions to include more recalls on more products resulting from the same supplier. It does happen but the lack of transparency gives doubt as to whether enough is done. Your mission to call FDA to task on obvious failures on gluten free products attests to that. Would they have acted if the allergen wheat was not identified as well when they fail to act on obvious intentional addition of gluten in other products?. I agree that regardless of the outcome of testing, intentionally adding gluten cannot be allowed in a product that is claimed to be gluten free especially when it is contrary to FDA published policy. It is not an “if” but “when” the failures will occur to the affect the safety of people affected with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Keep up the faith but continue push hard as you have done. Bravo!!
I’ve seen this with contaminated ingredients, such as those contaminated with e. coli and salmonella. If for example a manufacturer traces e. coli contamination back to a supplier of basil grown on a specific farm, the recall extends to all products from all manufacturers that utilized the impacted basil. I have not seen this (at least that I can remember) with a gluten containing ingredient. If you know of an example please share!
Do we know if canyon bakehouse has cleaned their equipment after this? Wouldn’t this affect anything else they have made on the same equipment by cross contamination?
Email correspondence from Canyon Bakehouse: “As soon as our internal testing revealed elevated levels of gluten in these specific products, they were removed from our bakery’s production area and the surface of every piece of equipment that came in contact with them – from mixing to baking to packaging – was thoroughly sanitized and then tested to ensure absolutely no traces of the gluten remained. Not a single product was baked in our facility until we completed this two-step process.”