Product Labeled Gluten-Free Contains Barley Malt Extract
Suzanne Simpson, dietitian at the Celiac Center at Columbia University recently alerted me to a product manufactured by The Gracious Gourmet that is labeled gluten-free but contains barley malt extract as an ingredient.
This product was NOT tested by Gluten Free Watchdog
Balsamic Four Onion Spread http://www.thegraciousgourmet.com/Balsamic-Four-Onion-Spread-v-158.html is labeled and advertised as gluten-free but according to the ingredients list on the product label and published online, it contains barley malt extract.
onions (yellow onion, leeks, shallots, red onion) sugar, balsamic vinegar, raisin, less than 2% of: vegetables and concentrated vegetables (carrots, celery, onion, tomato), yeast extract, salt, maltodextrin, canola oil, natural flavor, barley malt extract, dried onion, dried potato, dried garlic, spices, modified food starch, orange peel. Gluten free Vegan
I contacted the manufacturer and we communicated via email and phone. This is the statement she provided for this post:
“Thank you for bringing to my attention that The Gracious Gourmet’s Balsamic Four Onion Spread is not gluten free. It is my serious intention that everything represented on my labels is correct.
This question was raised last fall. At that time I had this product tested* by a laboratory who came back and said that the product was gluten free according to the FDA guidelines. It is for this reason that I left this claim on the label.
When your email came through this morning I immediately did the following:
1. Arranged with my printer to print new labels for the Balsamic Four Onion Spread without the Gluten Free claim.
2. Had my product brochure updated to eliminate this claim for this product.
3. Asked my Web site programmer to remove this representation from the balsamic Four Onion Spread.
Any Balsamic Four Onion inventory I currently have in stock has been pulled and the words “Gluten Free” have been crossed out with a black Sharpie pen.
If you have other suggestions about what I should be doing, I would welcome your input.
As the owner of The Gracious Gourmet, I want to insure the public enjoys my products and feels confident that their quality and representations are correct.
I appreciate your interest in helping companies such as The Gracious Gourmet to insure we are up to date with food regulations and selling correctly represented products.”
This manufacturer is taking the steps necessary to rectify the situation. What we hope is that all manufacturers respond in this manner when issues with labeled gluten-free products arise.
Malt ingredients are a common area of confusion for manufacturers. Some manufacturers continue to believe that under the proposed Food and Drug Administration rule for labeling of food as gluten-free these ingredients can be used in labeled gluten-free foods as long as the amount present is small. This is not the case.
As individuals with celiac disease know, barley malt, barley malt extract, and barley malt flavoring are not allowed (under the proposed rule) in foods labeled gluten-free and sold in the United States. Under the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule for labeling of food as gluten-free, these ingredients are considered among those derived from a prohibited grain that have not been processed to remove gluten. Under proposed regulations, they can not be included in a labeled gluten-free food regardless of the amount of gluten in the final food product.
The FDA proposes to define the term “gluten-free” to mean that a food bearing this claim in its labeling does not contain any one of the following:
- An ingredient that is a prohibited grain
- An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten
- An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has been processed to remove gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food or
- 20 ppm or more gluten
Examples of ingredients that are derived from a prohibited grain and that have not been processed to remove gluten include, but are not limited to:
- Farina, flour made from any of the proposed prohibited
grains, graham, and semolina
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein, vital gluten, wheat bran, and
- Barley malt extract or flavoring and malt vinegar
Because these ingredients are derived from a prohibited grain and have not been processed to remove gluten, they are presumed to contain gluten.
Please make sure to check the ingredients list of all products you purchase even if they are labeled gluten-free.
Please keep in mind that the FDA has not finalized the rule on labeling of foods as gluten free. Facets of the final rule may be different from the proposed rule.
For more information on the use of barley malt extract in labeled gluten-free food, please see http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/malt-extract-and-gluten-free-foods/
For more information on the difficulty in testing barley malt for gluten, please see http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/barley-malt-ingredients-in-labeled-gluten-free-foods/
*The product was tested using the Ridascreen Fast Gliadin assay (R7002). The validated version is the Ridascreen Gliadin (R7001). In addition, this is a sandwich ELISA. Because the product in question contains a hydrolyzed protein ingredient (barley malt extract) it should also be tested using the competitive R5 ELISA. BUT remember that regardless of test results, under proposed regulations barley malt extract is an ingredient NOT allowed in food labeled gluten-free.
Addendum (March 7, 2012): Promax Bars Nutty Butter Crunch and LS Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
After posting about Balsamic Four Onion Spread on Friday, I was alerted to another product containing barley malt extract.
Promax Nutty Butter Crunch and LS Peanut Butter Cookie Dough bars are labeled gluten-free and certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) but barley malt extract is included in the ingredients list in the soy protein crisps used in the products.
The good news: This month (March, 2012) the company begins production on reformulated bars that will no longer include a soy protein crisp containing barley malt extract. Because inventory can remain on store shelves for a period of time, if you want to avoid this ingredient in the bars you eat, please read the ingredients list carefully.
INGREDIENTS (Nutty Butter Crunch): PROMAX® PROTEIN BLEND [SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, SOY PROTEIN CRISPS (SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, RICE FLOUR, BARLEY MALT EXTRACT, SALT), SOY PROTEIN CRISPS (SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, TAPIOCA STARCH, SALT), WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CASEIN, CALCIUM CASEINATE], CORN SYRUP, CHOCOLATE FLAVORED COATING (SUGAR, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, COCOA, WHEY, NONFAT MILK, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR), FRUCTOSE, PEANUT BUTTER (PEANUTS), SUGAR, WATER, PARTIALLY DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR, NATURAL FLAVOR, SOY LECITHIN, GUAR GUM.
INGREDIENTS (LS Peanut Butter Cookie Dough): SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, PROMAX® PROTEIN BLEND (SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, SOY CRISPS [SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, RICE FLOUR, BARLEY MALT EXTRACT, TAPIOCA STARCH, SALT], WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CALCIUM CASEINATE), PEANUT FLAVORED COATING (SUGAR, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, PARTIALLY DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR, SODIUM CASEINATE, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR), GLYCERINE, PARTIALLY DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR, CORN SYRUP, ROASTED SOYBEANS, NATURAL FLAVOR, FRUCTOSE, SUNFLOWER OIL, SUGAR, SALT, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, NONFAT MILK, SOY LECITHIN, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, HEAVY CREAM (CREAM, MILK, CELLULOSE GEL, MILK SOLIDS, CARRAGEENAN, CELLULOSE GUM), BUTTER (CREAM SALT, ANNATTO ADDED FOR COLOR), SODIUM CITRATE, STEVIA LEAF EXTRACT (REB A), CARRAGEENAN, DEXTROSE.
The manufacturer provided the following statement for this post:
Barley malt extract is included in Promax Nutty Butter Crisp & LS Peanut Butter Cookie Dough bars as a minor, sub-ingredient in the soy crisps which are purchased as a finished ingredient. The soy crisps have been tested by an independent lab at less than 3-ppm gluten*. Finished bars have also been tested with results of less than 10-ppm gluten*. Nonetheless, Promax does plan to remove the barley malt extract from these flavors starting with its next production run scheduled for March 2012. The other bars in the Promax core and LS line do not contain barley malt extract.
Note: Gluten Free Watchdog did NOT test this product for gluten.
*Promax reports using the ELISA EZ Gluten / 991.19 method to test their finished products in house. The EZ Gluten Test uses the anti-omega gliadin antibody developed by Skerritt for gluten detection. They also report sending ingredients and finished product to an outside lab for testing. The lab uses the AOAC Official Method 991.19 Gliadin as a Measure of Gluten in Foods. The 991.19 method is also known as the sandwich omega-gliadin ELISA and Skerritt ELISA. Unfortunately, this assay severely underestimates gluten from barley, having a cross reactivity with barley of only 4 to 8 percent.
More good news: After speaking with Promax they will be changing their testing methodology for out of plant testing to the R5 ELISA 7001 test. It was a pleasure speaking with this company. They took my concerns and feedback very seriously and they are taking the right steps to rectify the situation. This is how we want manufacturers to respond when we approach them with issues regarding gluten-free products.
Please see http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/sandwich-elisas-for-assessing-gluten-content-of-foods/ for much more information on the Skerritt ELISA, as well as the sandwich R5 ELISA and Morinaga ELISA. Both the R5 and Morinaga ELISAs are also included in the FDA’s proposed gluten-free labeling rule as possible methods for rule enforcement.
As I’ve written about before, it can be very difficult to test for gluten in products containing hydrolyzed gluten (e.g., barley malt extract).
“It is very tricky to test for barley contamination in food. One of the assays (sandwich omega-gliadin ELISA) severely underestimates gluten contamination from barley; the other (sandwich R5 ELISA) overestimates gluten contamination from barley by a factor of 2. And when it comes to testing for gluten in a hydrolyzed product (a product that has been partially broken down), such as barley malt extract, the test that usually overestimates barley contamination may now underestimate it. It really is a confusing situation! Fortunately, there is an assay available for testing hydrolyzed ingredients. It is called the competitive R5 ELISA.”
Thomas Grace, CEO of Bia Diagnostics, a food testing facility in Burlington, Vermont, says the following concerning the use of barley malt extract in gluten-free foods: “In my opinion until there is a reliable method that can detect all hydrolyzed hordeins (the harmful protein in barley) in these extracts and correlate them with minimal reactive thresholds, manufacturers might want to stay away from barley malt extract in gluten free labeled products. We might find that some barley malt extracts are fine for persons with celiac disease, but until we know that for sure and have a reliable method for verification one should proceed on the side of caution.”
To read more from this article please see http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/barley-malt-extract-and-vans-products/
© 2012 by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted, reposted, or republished without the express written permission of Tricia Thompson