Product Alert: If You Have Celiac Disease Please Do Not Eat Millet-Based Products from Sami’s Bakery

Product Alert: If You Have Celiac Disease Please Do Not Eat Millet-Based Products from Sami’s Bakery

Test Results

Gluten Free Watchdog recently had three products from Sami’s Bakery (Millet and Flax Chips, Millet and Flax Lavash, and Plain Millet Bread) tested for gluten. Samples tested at a level of approximately 80,000 parts per million of gluten (see photo of final test results). According to the lab, “Based on these results, Bia Diagnostics believes this product to contain 25-50% wheat flour.”

These products are NOT labeled gluten-free. Product packaging reads, “Contains traces of gluten, wheat and yeast.”

Note: To put these levels in perspective, white (wheat) bread has been reported to contain 124,000 parts per million of gluten; brown (wheat) bread has been reported to contain 114,000 parts per million of gluten; and cake flour (wheat) has been reported to contain 98,000 parts per million of gluten.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration has been provided with all testing data.

If these products are not labeled gluten-free why are we concerned?

  • Stores and delis continue to characterize Sami’s millet-based bread as either gluten-free or possibly contaminated with low amounts of gluten (see photos). Keep in mind that low gluten is defined by Codex as no more than 100 parts per million of gluten.
  • The ingredients for the millet bread are listed as, “Organic millet flour, Brown rice flour, Water, Sea salt, Aluminum free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, potato starch, monocalcium phosphate), Cultured brown rice flour and Ascorbic acid.”
    • However, the lab states that based on test results these products contain 25% to 50% wheat flour. Based on testing, the amount of gluten in these products appears to be greater than “trace” amounts and greater than what is typically observed with cross contact.

Sami’s Bakery Response

Test results have been shared with Sami’s Bakery. They state in written correspondence that their products do not contain any added wheat flour.  They also state in email correspondence that, “We are aware of the cross contamination of our products however amounts of contamination you are stating is way higher than our findings. Regardless of this, we have changed our disclaimer in March of 2016 to “Contains Gluten, Wheat and Yeast”. We also make it known to our customers that if they have a wheat allergy, sensitivity to gluten, or are celiac, NOT to consume our products.”

Note: Gluten Free Watchdog has asked Sami’s for their test results. They have not yet been provided.

Note: Contains statements are defined under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. A Contains statement refers only to actual ingredients in a food product. These statements do not refer to cross contact. All ingredients must be included in an ingredients list by their common or usual name. According to Sami’s Bakery wheat flour is not an ingredient in the millet-based products.

Note: Under the FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act, covered establishments MUST have a food safety plan in place that includes preventive controls for allergens.

Previous Test Results

Gluten Free Watchdog tested three millet-based products from Sami’s Bakery in 2011. Findings were even higher (approximately 130,000 ppm to 180,000 ppm gluten). Sami’s plain millet bread was tested at FARRP in 2007 and results were reported as > 5,000 parts per million of gluten.

Recommendations for Gluten-Free Consumers

  1. Do not eat these products. If you have a gluten-related disorder do not eat millet-based products from Sami’s Bakery that appear to free of gluten-containing ingredients but are not labeled gluten-free.
  1. Educate stores, delis, and restaurants. If you come across Sami’s Bakery millet-based bread in retail establishments and it is being sold by the store, deli, or restaurant as “gluten-free” or “low gluten” share this post with them. Feel free to give them contact information for Gluten Free Watchdog.
  1. Spread the word in the community. While issues with gluten in millet-based products from Sami’s Bakery may seem like old news and we may think no one with a gluten-related disorder eats these products anymore, a quick search on Google says otherwise.
  1. Contact FDA. If you believe a Sami’s Bakery product made you sick, contact FDA’s MEDWATCH, the Adverse Event Reporting System. You can do this online https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/index.cfm?action=reporting.homeor via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative. 

UPDATE August 18, 2016: We commissioned additional testing on this bread product. The sample tested positive for yeast. The sample also tested as containing quantifiable levels of sugar–maltose, glucose, and fructose. The ingredients listed on product packaging are, “Organic millet flour, Brown rice flour, Water, Sea salt, Aluminum free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, potato starch, monocalcium phosphate), Cultured brown rice flour and Ascorbic acid.”

Test findings were shared with Sami’s Bakery. Their response on August 19, 2016 (unedited):

“Our Plain millet bread has an naturally accuring yeast through fermentation process of rice flour with a wild bacteria in the air. This process is same as sourdough starter. Also our product has an cultured dextrose in it, which Is in the ingredient list. it is not significant enough to change the nutritional value.”

GFWD asked Sami’s Bakery about the type of yeast in their product and the source of cultured dextrose. Sami’s response: “Wild yeast is saccharomyces exiguous. Attached is the front and back of the plain millet bread.”

Note: The yeast tested for and detected by the lab is S. Cerevisiae (Baker’s yeast). The photo of product packaging sent by Sami’s includes the ingredient “cultured dextrose.” Dextrose is a form of glucose. The loaf of bread tested for sugars by GFWD does not include this ingredient (see photos).

Please see FDA’s warning letter to Sami’s Bakery available at https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2016/ucm528639.htm

Additional information available at https://www.law360.com/articles/862682/fda-warning-wire-gripes-over-gluten-deleted-data

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Comments (32)

  • Melinda Dennis, MS, RDN
    Reply

    Thank you, Tricia. My patients and I appreciate the valuable information that we receive from the Gluten Free Watchdog postings including this latest one about these highly contaminated baked products.

    July 18, 2016 at 5:43 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      You are most welcome, Mel! Please spread the word far and wide that folks with gluten-related disorders should not eat products from Sami’s Bakery that are not labeled gluten-free.

      July 18, 2016 at 5:53 pm
  • Amy Fothergill Reply

    Where are these products sold? I’ve never seen them. Thank you!

    July 19, 2016 at 12:56 am
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Sami’s Bakery is located in Tampa, Florida but products are shipped all over the country (e.g., New York, Massachusetts, Michigan). Consumers can also order products online.

      July 19, 2016 at 12:59 am
  • Debi Tracy Reply

    Thank you! I had not read this before. Unless I make something from scratch it seems it’s always a gamble. My system reacts to “trace” amounts of gluten, and it seems to take weeks to fully return to “normal,” I.e., pain and symptom free.

    July 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      You are welcome, Debi. Have you been eating Sami’s millet-based products?

      July 19, 2016 at 2:14 pm
  • Bonnie Reply

    Thank you Tricia for the postings and alerts. Sam’s Bakery is a good example of a manufacturer producing a product that contains no gluten ingredients in the listing yet may contain 25 – 50% wheat. Some people may not read as far as the “may contain traces…..”, or think: “Oh, how much gluten can this really contain?” Likewise, other products, and most certainly other bakeshops with similar operations and labeling, giving the impression that their product(s) are “safe”, are probably not – at least for the majority of the GF community. These kinds of manufacturing processes and labels are increasingly becoming a nightmare for vigilant members of the CD/GF community and their family and friends.

    July 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      You are welcome Bonnie. And I agree, folks may stop reading at the ingredients list.

      July 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm
  • Ann Reply

    Thank you so much Tricia for being our watch dog that is ever vigilant and apparently never sleeps!

    July 19, 2016 at 11:17 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      My pleasure Ann. Happy to get this information out there. Please spread the word about this bread.

      July 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm
  • Madeline A Martin Reply

    I have CD/GF needs and have been buying Sami’s bread for years. I thank you, Tricia, for your beneficial information. I love the Millet bread and order on line. I am so disappointed and upset with Sami’s thinking I was getting so little “traces” in my bread. I need to eliminate yeast as well as gluten in my diet, and their bread was the first one to taste so much better than most GF breads that taste like sponge. I am now upset to know this and will not buy it now.

    July 20, 2016 at 3:56 am
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Madeline, You are most welcome. How did Sami’s Bakery represent this bread to you?

      July 20, 2016 at 12:07 pm
    • Beverly Leslie Reply

      I also was buying Sami bakery breads for years. I don’t have celiac but am staying away from gluten and yeast. So can’t trust the yeast issue either. I don’t understand how companies can lie about labeling products. How can this be stopped? There are laws to protect us from wrong labeling and yet they’re getting away with it.

      August 3, 2017 at 3:21 am
  • Helen Weems Reply

    Whoa! Given the horrible experience I had with DeLand’s Millet Bread (also with no gluten ingredients and with very similar labelling, also not packaged as “gluten free,” and sold in the frozen GF section of my local store) I would guess that we are talking about similar problems. What a reality check. As always, thank you for your tireless advocacy and scientific approach to our dietary needs. Worth every penny of my subscription.

    July 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      You are most welcome, Helen. Thanks so much for your support of Gluten Free Watchdog. It is so appreciated!!

      July 20, 2016 at 6:45 pm
  • Tara Reply

    My daughter was very sick after eating Sami’s Bakery’s millet bread 6 or 7 years ago. Soon after the product was pulled from my local natural food store. I’m amazed they are still in business.

    July 21, 2016 at 10:59 am
  • Amanda Reply

    I have been buying this bread and now I know why every time I used the product I had a reaction to it.
    Please remove all millet base products from all stores
    They obviously have been cheating about this product for many many years all you have to do is check on Google history,
    Thanks for all your hard work , you work so hard to save us from those monsters

    July 23, 2016 at 7:20 pm
  • Martha Reply

    I get lupus and fibromyalgia symptoms if I have gluten.It is very painful for a week.I’ve been eating sami’s for 13 years with no problem.l can’t eat a cup of soup in a restaurant without having a severe reaction.can’t have too much gluten

    August 11, 2016 at 12:07 am
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      If you have celiac disease or another medically diagnosed gluten-related disorder you should not eat millet-based products from Sami’s Bakery.

      August 11, 2016 at 12:52 am
    • Carole Reply

      I saw a well known Gluten Physician in Atlanta Ga years ago. I was not Celiac -but was Gluten intolerant. I was having all kind of problems with digestive upsets . However Sami’s was rec by a nutritionist that worked with this physician. I have been using the Millet and Flax Bread with no issues at all since about 2014. However thank yo for you write up and for your exploring the problems. I have had problems with medications that contain Gluten?

      August 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm
  • Katrina Reply

    Thanks for this posting. I’m only seeing it now but I think it just answered a mystery for me. My son has had celiac for about 4 years and last fall his TTG number came back high in his annual blood draw. We couldn’t figure out what he had eaten with gluten. However, earlier that summer we were vacationing and stopped at a little health food store to buy some gf food, and the clerk handed us the Sami bagels and said, “they’re not certified gluten free but every ingredient is gf.” We hesitated but gave them a try and he at the whole bag of them on that vacation, over the course of 10 days or so. i know I can’t pinpoint it, but it eases my mind a bit to know this could be the answer. Thanks for your post.

    September 21, 2016 at 5:46 pm
  • Beverly Leslie Reply

    I have been buying from samis bakery for years. I don’t have celiac but was having a sensitivity to wheat bread, figured it was the gluten so I’ve been eating gluten free or friendly. I’m disappointed that samis tested so high. Not sure what I’ll do, I hope they make changes since this will hurt their business. There is nothing else that comes close to real bread, wondered how they did it. Thanks for the info!

    March 2, 2017 at 5:43 am
  • GLORIA LEVITT Reply

    Does anyone know of a bread that is gluten free, corn free, soy free and yeast free and where I can buy it. I am desperate!

    July 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm
    • Bonnie Reply

      I quickly searched online and found several possibilities: (1) Food For Life Multi-Seed Bread for sale through Gluten-Free Shoppe (website). (2) Ener-G Foods Brown Rice Yeast Free Loaf, (3) Julian Bakery (website) has a paleo bread made with almond flour. I suggest contacting these companies directly to confirm their list of ingredients and that they are certified GF. Hope this is helpful.

      July 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm
  • Carole Reply

    I am wondering on some of these products -if it is the combination of things with the Sami’s that may be an issues and not just the Millet and Flax bread???

    August 2, 2017 at 5:53 pm
  • Mary Reply

    Hi Tricia. I remember seeing the Gluten and Yeast on the ingredients online a few months back and calling sami’s right away. They said that it is bc it is not in the Millet Falx bread but possibly in others products and NOT to worry! I have a son highly affected with autism and sadly this bread could have been contributing to some of his GI issues and behaviors. Do you have any other recommendations for good gluten/dairy and egg free bread brands? or even ones to make in the oven? Many thanks for all your hard work!! Best, Mary

    September 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Mary, Thanks for sharing this information. You may want to look at Schar breads https://www.schaer.com/en-us/fw/bakery. I find them to have a nice taste and texture.

      September 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm
      • Mary Reply

        Thank you Tricia!
        Sorry for such a long overdue response! Keep up the good work!
        Mary

        November 6, 2017 at 4:36 pm
  • Karin Reply

    Thank you so much for this info! I have wheat intolerance and have been wondering why I get bloated (I look like I’m 6 months pregnant) for days after eating this bread. This explains it. Thanks again!

    October 2, 2017 at 1:44 am
  • Meredith Reply

    I have a wheat allergy. I was served this bread at a bakery, where it is sold as being gluten-free. I had such a severe allergic reaction that I had to go to the hospital. Thank you for your post. This explains a lot.

    November 27, 2017 at 4:40 pm

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