On September 13, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a warning to the gluten-free community in regards to the “misbranding” of Kirkland Signature Chicken Tortilla Soup.
The soup is labeled “gluten-free,” but the USDA says this is a “false negative” claim given that the product contains gluten.
The USDA says it discovered the issue during laboratory testing of a particular batch of soup, where it found gluten despite the package being labeled as gluten-free.
I spoke with Andrew Hearns of Kettle Cuisine, the manufacturer of the soup in question, to better understand what happened.
He said the public health announcement only affected a small portion of soup, and the error was caught quickly.
He assured me that the soup has been and is currently formulated to be gluten-free. This was a mistake made in one batch that they promptly corrected.
Hearns said as a result of the public health announcement and to prevent this from happening again, Kettle Cuisine has increased its testing.
They test both the ingredients used and the finished product to ensure it meets FDA gluten-free labeling guidelines, which state a product cannot contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten.
The soup is still sold in Costco stores and is labeled gluten-free (I saw it last week at my local Costco).
Again, Hearns says the product is gluten-free, and customers should feel confident consuming this product again.
Warning Vs. Recall
The soups are no longer available for purchase in stores, so the USDA did not issue a recall; instead, the agency issued a “public health warning” to warn consumers who might have cartons of this soup in their fridges or freezers.
The soups in question were produced on July 26, 2023, and sold at retail locations in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
They have a use-by date of November 23, 2023. The affected products are part of lot code 1394066, which is printed on the side of the cup just below the lip.
These products should not be used by anyone who cannot eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, including people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
The USDA advises that consumers throw the packages away or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.
There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.
Some images were provided by the USDA.
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