Manufacturers: No more sloppy responses when contacted by gluten-free consumers

Manufacturers: No more sloppy responses when contacted by gluten-free consumers

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month 2018,

A series of bites, barks, tail wags, face licks, and pant tugs from Gluten Free Watchdog

May 19, 2018

Gluten Free Watchdog Bark, Post # 19

In mid-April I was contacted by a member of the Gluten Free Watchdog community about a curious ingredient in a variety of Magnum ice cream–“corn syrup (wheat).” This product is NOT labeled gluten-free.

My response: “This is an FDA-regulated product. There is an FDA CFR for corn syrup: Sec. 184.1865 Corn syrup. (a) Corn syrup, commonly called “glucose sirup” or “glucose syrup,” is obtained by partial hydrolysis of cornstarch with safe and suitable acids or enzymes. It may also occur in the dehydrated form (dried glucose sirup). Depending on the degree of hydrolysis, corn syrup may contain, in addition to glucose, maltose and higher saccharides.

In other words, corn syrup should be made from cornstarch. I have no idea where the wheat is coming from (unless the manufacturer meant to list the ingredient as “glucose syrup (wheat)” but Unilever should know better).”

I reached out to Unilever (Magnum is a brand of Unilever) asking them to clarify the ingredient “corn syrup (wheat).” They responded about a month later.

Unilever Consumer Care: We appreciate the opportunity to respond to you regarding the corn syrup in our Magnum Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Tubs. The corn syrup is derived from corn, and is also known as corn sugar or dextrose. Any product that contains corn syrup will have it included on the ingredient list.

Tricia Thompson: Thanks for getting back to me but your response does not address my concern. Please explain the ingredients list on product packaging. It reads “corn syrup (wheat).”

Unilever Consumer Care: At this time, this is all the information we have regarding the corn syrup included in the ice cream. Any product that contains gluten based ingredients will list those ingredients on the ingredient list. If the natural flavor contains any Gluten, it would be called out on the label. The inclusion of (wheat) was provided to inform consumer’s (sic) that this product does contain gluten.

Tricia Thompson: Wheat is not listed after natural flavor but after the ingredient “corn syrup.” Corn syrup is defined under the FDA’s CFR for corn syrup. There is no mention of wheat. Please advise how the ingredient “corn syrup” contains wheat.

No further response from Unilever.

Why does any of this matter? There is so much confusion about ingredients. Having a manufacturer like Unilever declare wheat in corn syrup adds to this confusion. Their sloppy response to my inquiry doesn’t help.

Thank you to the consumers who reached out to me. Photo published with permission.

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Comments (12)

  • Angelica Reply

    I received this answer recently, when asking about the California specific warning on a single ingredient product:

    Thank you for your question concerning one of our products. We value your business and hope to be able to assist you. Due to the detailed nature of your question, we would appreciate it if you call the Nutritional Products Helpline …(snip).. where Product Specialists are available to help you.
    Thanks again for your inquiry!

    All I wanted to know was where they sourced their rice from and whether they did any testing for arsenic. How “detailed” is that? A place name and a yes or no question. LOL

    I’m beginning to wonder if they’re afraid of saying anything in text because it can be quoted? If so, they should be advised that any child can figure out how to record a phone call. Anyway, I find it easier to dump the brand than to stay on hold and play press 1, press 2…. for 45 minutes. There are thousands of purified protein sources and just as many brands.

    May 20, 2018 at 11:29 am
  • Tom Baaker MD Reply

    good for you girl! Go get ’em.

    May 20, 2018 at 11:31 am
  • Tiffany RN, BSN Reply


    Hope this helps…

    (Wheat): this means that the corn syrup or glucose syrup was derived from wheat and the manufacturer has either chosen to disclose that on the label or the amount of gluten exceeds the standard limit and they have to disclose to comply with standards. Although, most of the wheat derived glucose syrups contain no detectable gluten and many medical professionals would argue it is safe for those with celiac disease to consume

    August 16, 2018 at 6:43 am
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Tiffany, Thanks for commenting. Are you located in the US? I’m asking because your information isn’t quite accurate for the US market. The ingredient in question is “corn syrup (wheat).” In the US, there is a CFR for corn syrup. Corn syrup should be from corn. If the ingredient is actually wheat syrup it should be labeled “glucose syrup (wheat)” or simply “wheat syrup.” The declaration of “wheat” on US labels for ingredients like glucose syrup is due to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). Under this law if an ingredient in food is or contains protein from any of the top 8 allergens, including wheat, then the allergen must be named in either the ingredients list or Contains statement. The declaration of wheat is not due to the gluten-free labeling rule. It is the case that regardless of what glucose syrup is made from–even when the source is wheat starch–the likelihood that glucose syrup will cause an otherwise gluten-free product to contain at or above 20 ppm gluten is low.

      August 21, 2018 at 6:40 pm
  • Mariana Reply

    Thanks for this helpful information according Glucose syrup (derived from wheat). I also have this ingredient in my products, and Just wondering Can I say “glucose syrup (wheat, gluten free), and then wheat have to be in my allergen statement?!?
    My specification sheet says It`s a purified and concentrated water solution of nutritive saccharides obtained by hydrolysis of starch (from wheat).
    I`m located in US.


    August 29, 2018 at 5:56 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Mariana, My recommendation is to contact FDA with your questions. In general, a food labeled gluten-free that is made using an ingredient such as wheat starch or a wheat starch hydrolysate (e.g., glucose syrup from wheat) must make sure that the use of the ingredient does not cause the final product to contain a level of gluten at/above 20 ppm. Suppliers of wheat starch, glucose syrup made using wheat starch, etc should warrant to manufacturers that the ingredient is gluten-free under the gluten-free labeling rule.

      September 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm
  • Nicole Reply

    Thank you so much for this article.

    I had twice had an upset stomach before reading the label on my ice cream (rookie mistake, I know). I was eating the same brand and also questions HOW THE HECK DOES CORN SYRUP CONTAIN WHEAT NOW?

    Oi. This was the only relevant article I found, glad to see I’m not the only confused consumer.

    April 30, 2020 at 11:13 pm
  • Richard Savage Reply

    I’m not gluten free, I don’t need to be, but I was concerned when I recently bought Country Life Corn Syrup – the ingredients are listed as corn extract and water. But it states “contains gluten” on the label. How is this possible?!
    (Bought in Europe)

    July 29, 2020 at 5:04 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Richard. Do you still have the product?

      July 30, 2020 at 5:24 pm
      • Richard Savage Reply

        Yes, I do, Tricia.

        July 30, 2020 at 5:28 pm
  • Linda Atchinson Reply

    I recently found out that I am sensitive to gluten. Thanks for being a watchdog. I thought I had taken most steps to be Gluten free, however, the cough, throat clearing and flem continued. I was drinking what I thought was bottled green tea. Through your article I saw that it contained high fructose corn syrup. Since eliminating this bottled drink, my flem level has dropped immensely.

    August 23, 2020 at 6:13 pm

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