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