Yesterday while at work, I went looking for something extra to eat with my lunch. I discovered several Jelly Belly products were listed "gluten free". In looking over the ingredients, I couldn't find anything that looked dangerous, so I bought a few items:
- Sunkist Fruit Gems: A Fat Free, Gluten Free Food
- JB Fruit Snacks (Made with 7 Real Fruit Juices): Naturally Gluten Free
- (NEW!) Jelly Bean Chocolate Dips (Very Cherry): A Gluten Free Food
The Sunkist package is the only one that carried an additional allergen warning. "Manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts." Given that, I figured they were safe. Clearly, they were labeling for other allergens.
Well, they're not.
This morning I woke up feeling very lethargic/groggy and my stomach hurt (both of these went on for hours. The stomach pains have eased off - for now - but the extreme lethargy continues, even after coffee).
Last night, before these "fun" feelings hit, I pursued their website to find out if anything else was gluten free. The only statement on their site refers to the JB beans (no other JB candy):
All flavors of Jelly Belly beans are free of gluten. We do not use any wheat, rye, barley, or oats in the basic recipe for Jelly Belly jelly beans. The modified food starch listed on the package is cornstarch.
So, I dropped them an e-mail to find out if other things (namely the Chocolate Mints and Mint Cremes) were safe, but then added in: Do any of your products have gluten?
Almost all items we manufacture are Gluten free. The only items that contain gluten are the items that contain real licorice pieces or our malt balls. Please see the attached document for the items we make the contain gluten.
Thank you for writing.
Consumer Affairs Representative
Thank you very much for your reply and for the attachment. One more question? Are the gluten-containing items made on their own lines, or is it shared equipment?
Yes, the candy is produced on the same line as our other products at one point or another in the process. While we do clean and chemically wash all machinery between products, we cannot 100% guarantee that cross contamination would not not occur, although it is unlikely. We make over 100 different types of confections and only those listed contain gluten.
Hope this helps.
Have a nice day.
Consumer Affairs Representative
Thank you for your reply. I just threw away the Jelly Belly products I bought yesterday, and definitely won't be buying it again. Now I know why my stomach hurt so much this morning and why I've been feeling so lethargic. Labeling products gluten free but NOT telling consumers (unless they ask) that you used SHARED lines is a dangerous move on JB's part.
I'll also be sharing this on my gluten free blog. Even if you clean the lines, it is just too risky for those of us who are very, very sensitive (which is a LOT of people with Celiac Disease).
Considering how many things you make, and how many places JB products are sold, would JB ever consider opening up new, dedicated gluten free facilities and getting certified by GFCO? (http://www.gfco.org/) (It would HAVE to be new facilities -- washing the old ones and moving the small batch of gluten-containing products somewhere else would NOT cut it.)
As of this posting, I have not yet received a response from anyone at Jelly Belly. If I do, I will post a follow-up entry.
Here are the Jelly Belly products which specifically contain gluten:
Item# Item Description Gluten Source
6030 Chocolate Malt Balls Wheat and Barley
6032 Christmas Chocolate Malt Balls Wheat and Barley
1415 Christmas Deluxe Mix Wheat and Barley
64909 Classic Candies Gift Box Wheat
64913 Classic Licorice Box Wheat
1715 Deluxe Easter Mix Wheat and Barley
1295 Deluxe Halloween Mix Barley
88857 Hodgepodge Wheat and Barley
1075 Licorice Bridge Mix Wheat
3015 Licorice Pastels Wheat
4750 Speckled Chocolate Malted Eggs Wheat and Barley