Unfortunately, from time to time, a product changes its formula to – gasp! – add gluten! In this article, I share several brands that have added gluten, changed labels, or otherwise confused the gluten-free community with their about-face moves. Please read my disclosures.
This post includes a running list of products that were once gluten-free but are no longer gluten-free. It serves as a stark reminder of the importance of continuously checking ingredient labels, even if it’s a product you’ve bought a hundred times, as labels, ingredients, and formulations can change anytime and without any notice.
Please send me a note if you hear or know of a product that should be included on this list. Last updated January 2023.
(1) PopCorners Removes Gluten-Free Certification
PopCorners was once a trusted brand by the gluten-free community as its entire line was certified gluten-free by the GFCO.
However, sometime in 2022, the company changed its formula and removed the “certified gluten-free” label from several varieties.
My friend, Casey the College Celiac, shared these changes on her Instagram page, along with a response from the company, where a spokesperson confirmed that the White Cheddar and Sweet Chili flavors no longer meet the FDA’s requirement for gluten-free labeling.
This sleight of hand has left many people in the gluten-free community confused about why PopCorners would add gluten to a line-up of products that prided itself on being 100 percent certified gluten-free.
Flavors that are NO LONGER Gluten Free:
- Sweet Chili
- White Cheddar
If you want to enjoy PopCorners, the Cinnamon Crunch, Sea Salt, Kettle Corn, Spicy Queso, and Sour Cream & Onion flavors are still certified gluten-free by the GFCO.
(2) LightLife Adds Vital Wheat Gluten, Then Removes It
You might get whiplash following the LightLight Smart Dogs saga. It all started when my friend, Wendy, told me she had been buying these plant-based hot dogs for years and even had a package of “gluten-free” Smart Dogs in her freezer.
Then, while shopping at the grocery store, something compelled her to check the label before adding it to her cart. Sure enough, she stared at the package in disbelief! LightLife changed its formula and added vital wheat gluten as an ingredient!
LightLife fielded a ton of complaints from consumers (including me). Here’s what LightLife said in a Tweet dated February 12, 2021:
Since then, LightLife Smart Dogs have returned to the original formula, saying on its website, “Our customers talked, and we listened! We learned our fans enjoy our old Smart Dogs recipe, so we’ve changed back to the recipe our fans know and love.”
The Smart Dogs are not labeled “gluten-free,” which is an issue in of itself, but as you can see from the ingredient list, they removed the vital wheat gluten:
Ingredients as of January 2023: Water, Soy Protein Isolate, Soybean Oil, Raw Cane Sugar, Salt, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, Garlic Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Oil, Glutamic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan, Garlic Powder, Guar Gum, Hardwood Smoked Sugar, Red Rice Flour (Color), Canola Oil, Oleoresin Paprika (Color). Contains: Soy.
The company says products labeled “gluten-free” are produced in a gluten-free facility. Such products include Plant-Based Burgers and Ground.
However, the company says its products that don’t contain wheat but are not labeled gluten-free are likely produced in a shared facility and are exposed to potential gluten cross-contamination.
LightLife also tells consumers to consult their physicians before consuming any of their products, as if my physician knows what LightLife puts in its products. The monkeys in charge should reconsider the wording on the company’s website.
The bottom line is LightLife Smart Dogs are not consistently gluten-free. Read labels for the latest information.
(3) Better than Bouillon
The author said that Better than Bouillon had been labeled “gluten-free,” but in 2012, she noticed the product no longer contained the “gluten-free” label.
She contacted the company, which confirmed that Better than Bouillon was no longer labeled gluten-free because the company doesn’t “test” its products for gluten and, therefore, cannot make claims about it.
(4) Pizza Hut
If you’ve been a part of the gluten-free community for a while, you might recall when Pizza Hut offered “certified gluten-free” pizzas in partnership with the Gluten Intolerance Group Gluten-Free Food Service Program.
Unfortunately, as of May 2019, Pizza Hut terminated its relationship with the Gluten Intolerance Group and no longer offers certified gluten-free pizza options.
While Pizza Hut still offers non-certified gluten-free pizza options, the restaurant chain no longer recommends its gluten-free pizza for people with celiac disease. In fact, none of the five pizza chains recommend their gluten-free pizza for people with celiac disease. What a shame.
Vigilance is Key
Unfortunately, brands will be brands. They do what they want to do. If they want to suddenly change a product’s formula or recipe, supplier, manufacturer, or labeling, they don’t owe anyone an explanation or advance notice. However, such changes bring with them great mistrust in the gluten-free and allergen communities.
Use these cautionary tales as reminders to always read labels, even when buying something from a brand you know and trust. Stay vigilant, friends. The devil is always in the details.