When a regulatory agency (USDA) actually enforces the gluten-free labeling rule and recalls a product containing wheat-based soy sauce
On August 30, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the recall of Heatherfield Foods Inc. pork sausage products due to misbranding. The sausage is labeled gluten-free yet contains wheat. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2019/recall-088-2019-release?permalink=35A47FAFA869093A250D7843C3A55B6D5ADD2BFB5919576B6453B59930E6CE26
Why is this recall particularly significant?
- It took place because of a consumer complaint received by USDA.
- Based on consumer photographs sent to Gluten Free Watchdog, the source of wheat in the sausage is soy sauce.
doesn’t have an agency defined gluten-free labeling rule.
- Instead they require manufacturers under their labeling jurisdiction to adhere to the gluten-free labeling rule established by the FDA.
- In 2017 Gluten Free Watchdog contacted USDA about another product labeled gluten-free yet containing wheat-based soy sauce.
- Because soy sauce is under the labeling jurisdiction of FDA, USDA reached out to FDA for clarification about the gluten-free status of wheat-based soy sauce.
- The USDA
shared the FDA’s response with Gluten Free Watchdog.
- “If a soy sauce is made from wheat and soybeans, “wheat” is a gluten-containing grain, and, therefore, cannot make the gluten-free claim.”
- Many products labeled gluten-free and containing wheat-based soy sauce have been reported to FDA by Gluten Free Watchdog, including sauces made by the manufacturer Chef Myron’s.
- Chef Myron’s sauces were first reported to FDA in 2014.
- Chef Myron’s sauces continue to be represented by the manufacturer as “gluten-free” and continue to contain wheat-based soy sauce. These sauces are sold retail and to various food service outlets, including schools, hospitals, military, and restaurants. For more information see https://chefmyrons.com/information-sheets/
We should all be asking why USDA enforces FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule when it comes to wheat-based soy sauce but the FDA does not.