Product Alert Good Greens BarsTricia Thompson
Good Greens Nutrition Bars and Greek Yogurt Bars are labeled gluten-free and contain the ingredient “wheat sprout powder” or “wheat sprout” in the ingredients list according to information on the manufacturer website and product labels.
Wheat sprouts with the germinating seed still attached should not be eaten by people with gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. While sprouting starts the process of breaking down gluten, harmful gluten peptides may still remain.
I first learned about Good Greens bars from a dietitian colleague and subscriber to Gluten Free Watchdog who requested testing for this product. While looking into the product, I came across the ingredients list on the manufacturer website. “Wheat sprout powder” is included in the proprietary blend of whole food added to the bars.
I spoke with a representative of Good Greens who advised me they are working to remove wheat sprout powder from their bars. Despite correspondence with the manufacturer it is unclear to me exactly what the ingredient is that is labeled “wheat sprout powder.” Good Greens provided the statement below to be included with this alert. Gluten Free Watchdog does not make any warranties regarding the accuracy of the information provided by Good Greens. If you have any questions, please contact the manufacturer. Please note that I was very clear with Good Greens that the ingredient of concern was wheat sprout powder/wheat sprout NOT the wheatgrass juice or barley grass also included in their product. It is true that wheat grass and barley grass are allowed ingredients in labeled gluten-free food as long as the final food product contains less than 20 ppm gluten.
“Good Greens would like to thank you for your concern, and for your interest in Good Greens. We are aware that pure wheat grass (without seeds) does not contain gluten, however, if the grasses begin producing seeds prior to harvest, then the particular crop will contain gluten. Our product only uses the sprouted wheat. The Wheat Grass and Barley Grass found in our products do not contain the Gluten Allergen; only the seeds of Wheat Grass and Barley Grass contain Gluten, not the fully spouted stem and leaves. In its proposed gluten-free label rules, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has said that wheat grass and barley grass could be used to make foods labeled gluten-free, as long as they do not contain 20 parts per million or more of gluten.
As part of FDA compliance, the Quality Control team within our manufacturing facilities cannot allow any product to leave without batch testing each production run and making sure it meets the nutritional requirements of our product and packaging. This includes testing each our bar flavors to ensure the gluten content is below 20 parts per million limit. Each of our bars have been tested and passed this regulation. On the back of every bar is a batch number which we can trace back to a quality control nutritional test, which we are happy to provide to anyone who may have an allergic reaction, and claims it’s due to our gluten content. We designed our product to be free of many of the common food allergens, such as dairy, wheat and soy, and are always concerned if someone experiences a reaction and may believe that it’s due to our product. If you or any of your readers feel that they may have had a reaction due to our product, please contact Jim Clifford at (440) 670-2586.
We are taking steps to be more proactive in the celiac community by considering to replace sprouted wheat grass and barely grass in our product due to the concerns you and others have expressed. We’re in the process of reformulating and our product to offer the same nutrition and taste without those ingredients. However, there will be a lag time to change all the packaging of our product, and we expect to have the reformulated product and packaging in the market place by June of this year.”
There has been some confusion about whether these bars are certified gluten-free. Good Greens bars are NOT certified gluten-free by GFCO. According to Cynthia Kupper, Executive director of GIG, GFCO has never certified Good Greens bars. GFCO posted a statement regarding this issue on celiac.com.
Plea to manufacturers: If you are going to label your products gluten-free please make sure they are truly gluten-free as defined by the FDA’s proposed gluten-free labeling regulations. Most manufacturers appear to be doing things right based on product testing and ingredient review conducted by Gluten Free Watchdog. However, there are manufacturers who are not testing final food products for gluten. Some who test are not using the best available methodologies. And unfortunately some manufacturers continue to use ingredients that are not allowed in labeled gluten-free foods.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease. People with this disease depend on the accuracy of the gluten-free label to keep them healthy. Product not properly labeled can make them very sick. If you are going to use a gluten-free label and you are not an expert in celiac disease, the gluten-free diet, labeling law, and food testing protocols please invest in some good consulting services either through a certification organization—GIG, CSA, NFCA, CCA—or by contacting a consultant (I am happy to help).
©Copyright 2013 by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD for Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC (www.glutenfreewatchdog.org). All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without the prior written permission of Tricia Thompson.