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Is Worthenshaws Freedom gluten-free?

January 12, 2011

A few months ago I wrote about the exciting launch of Worthenshaws Freedom free-from desserts and claimed that they were suitable for coeliacs. I thought this because their website and labelling state that Freedom is free from gluten and suitable for food allergy sufferers.

However, there is some interesting chatter about Freedom on Coeliac UK’s Facebook page this week that has made me rethink that and want to double-check the facts.

A member has posted a question asking whether Worthenshaws is safe for coeliacs to consume seeing as it is produced in a factory that also handles gluten.

Freedom’s packaging states the following: “recipe free from nuts, soya, dairy, gluten, wheat, egg, added sugar (contains only fruit sugars, artificial colours and flavours.” So, that’s the recipe. But the labelling goes on to say, “ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Produced in a factory that handles nuts, soya, milk, wheat, gluten and egg” so there is the potential for contamination with allergens.

Coeliac UK has responded to the query saying they don’t list Worthenshaws because they haven’t been provided with suitable information but  add that the Worthenshaws website provides information about the risk of contamination.

The Worthenshaws statement, available here, explains that all of the ingredients used in the dessert are gluten-free. However, nuts, gluten, eggs, milk and soya are all handled on the manufacturing site.  Because of this they adopt strict procedures for segregation and handling of all allergens and for cleaning of equipment prior to production to ensure that the risk of cross-contamination is remote.

“Testing has shown that there are no traces of these allergens, to within the current sensitivity of testing at our UKAS accredited laboratory; therefore we believe that these products are safe for the allergen sensitive consumer. The addition of the statement ‘produced in a factory that handles nuts, soya, milk, wheat, gluten and egg’ is intended as information to the consumer so as not to mislead, rather than a warning.”

I’m not entirely sure that means that there are less than 20 parts-per-million of gluten in the dessert but it sounds like that’s what they mean. There are rumours in the Coeliac UK posts that some coeliacs have felt unwell after eating the dessert so if you suffer from coeliacs it would be worth keeping this in mind if you choose to eat the dessert.

I have sent an enquiry to Worthenshaws customer care to see what they say about their gluten-free labelling and will post their response.

Related posts: Dragons Den dairy-free desserts now available

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