Tag Archives: walkers

Gluten Free Labelling Removed from Seabrook’s Crisps

8 Oct

UPDATE 21/03/13: Great news, gluten free labelling to be restored. This post has been superseded, see new post here

Since I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease last year, Seabrook have been one of the heroes as they labelled some flavours of their crisps gluten free.  This was particularly welcome in light of the issues we had with Walkers (packs previously labelled “suitable for coeliacs” now said contained gluten).   It has recently come to light however that Seabrook’s have removed the “gluten free” labelling from their packaging.

I contacted Seabrook’s to try to find out why the gluten free labelling had been removed, and this was their reply:

We have not put gluten into the flavours that previously didn’t have any gluten containing ingredients. A recent legislation meant changing the packaging  information and, instead,  if a packet contains ingredients which contain gluten an allergy warning will be stated on the packet.

Pretty much what I expected and not really telling us much.  I emailed some follow up questions, and here they are along with Seabrook’s answers.

Q1:  Could you give more information on the legislation that has caused the change please?  We are a knowledgeable bunch when it comes to gluten, so we know all about the 20 parts per million values that have to be met in order for the gluten free label to be applied.  I would really like to know exactly what has forced the change, and exactly how these legislations are impacting the food industry.  Sorry to be persistent here but it is a really important issue for us.

A1:  This was the Food Standards Agency Guidance on the composition and labelling of foodstuffs suitable for people intolerant to gluten Jan 2012 report.

Q2:  One concern that coeliacs had when Walkers removed the “safe for coeliacs” labelling was that although ingredients had not changed, Walkers no longer had any reason to be vigilant when it comes to cross contamination from other gluten containing products.  Are you still taking measures to prevent cross contamination from flavours that do contain gluten added ingredients, and if so what?

A2:  We still maintain the same strict standards within our manufacturing environment and our cross contamination procedures have not changed. However, as a result of the legislation we have chosen to remove the gluten free message across our range at this point in time. Instead, products that specifically do contain gluten include an allergen warning on the pack.

I also asked Seabrook’s if they could provide a list of flavours that have no gluten containing ingredients, and they sent back the following list:

Sea Salt
Cheese & Onion
Prawn Cocktail
C/Cheese & Chives
Canadian Ham
2 Chilli
Desi Curry

I would have preferred a little more info on question one, but thanks in any case to Emma from Seabrook’s for answering my questions.  So what do you think as a fellow coeliac?  Will you continue to eat Seabrook’s crisps in light of their answers, or will you be sticking to the Pom Bears in future?  I would love to hear your thoughts so please comment below.

Update 15/10/12.  Following questions posed by Alex Gazzola in comments below, here is the latest response from Seabrook’s:

At Seabrook, we have not changed our manufacturing methods or quality controls in respect of gluten cross contamination since the 2012 guidelines were issued. All our analytical results demonstrate that we have fallen within the 20ppm threshold. However, the additional testing requirements to comply with the 2012 guidelines involve a degree of rigour and cost which, at the time they were issued, the business elected not to progress and accordingly we changed our packaging to reflect this. The authorities allow a period of grace for manufacturers in this situation to change the packaging over, hence the delay in some of the new packs appearing in the market place. One thing that we did not anticipate however was the extent of interest from our gluten intolerant consumers and, as a result, the business is committed to reviewing its policy in this area and will make further announcements in due course.

I welcome the fact that Seabrook’s are reviewing this policy in light of customer feedback.  Emma from Seabrook’s has promised to let me know of any further announcements, and I will of course share any good news with you all.

Update 21/10/12. Thanks to Shirley Quarmby, who has passed on a further reply received from Seabrook’s which is below:

Until recently we were able to claim our product as gluten free but due to new legislation of this year we can no longer state that claim.

Some of our products are wheat free but because they are made in a factorywhere gluten products are also made we can only advise customer that theyhave no gluten containing ingredients.

We have not made any changes to our recipes or our manufacturing processes, our change is all down to legislation.

I’ve attached a list of all our flavours and the allergens they contain.

UPDATE 21/03/13: Great news, gluten free labelling to be restored. This post has been superseded, see new post here

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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