After being publically outed for selling “gluten-free” baked goods that contained high levels of gluten, the Better Than Good bakery in Oklahoma has shut down.
The once-touted “dedicated gluten-free bakery” sold its products at farmer’s markets in Oklahoma, Kansas, and online, as well as at its store-front in Suite 102 of the City Central Building in Ponca City, Oklahoma, which opened on December 12, 2022.
The owners, Bex (Rebecca) and Jesse Casillas, told The Blackwell Journal-Tribune in May 2022 that their ingredients were “carefully vetted and locally sourced,” although current circumstances say otherwise.
Customer Gets Sick; Suspects Gluten
After her celiac son became ill after eating a baked good from the Better Than Good bakery, Rachelle Monica tested one of the products with her Nima Sensor.
Nima is a portable gluten-detecting device that enables users to test their food for hidden gluten in the privacy of their own homes. It takes 1-2 minutes for Nima to reveal if a product sample contains gluten or is gluten-free.
Nima displayed a “Gluten Found” message, confirming Monica’s suspicions that Better Than Good products contained gluten.
Monica then alerted The Gluten-Free Watchdog (TGFW) of her findings. TGFW is a website whose owner sends products suspected of containing hidden gluten for further lab testing. The site owner agreed to send samples of Better Than Good’s products for further testing.
In March 2023, The Gluten-Free Watchdog announced on Facebook that the lab found one of the samples contained over 80 parts per million (ppm) of gluten and another over 170,000 ppm.
For a product to be labeled “gluten-free,” it must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten.
The high level of gluten may suggest that Better Than Good’s products were made with wheat flour and were not a minor cross-contamination issue, although only the Casillas couple knows for sure.
The Fall Out
Since being outed for selling gluten-free products that contained gluten, Better Than Good has vanished online and disconnected its phone line.
Fox23 News in Tulsa reported on Better Than Good’s allegedly deceitful practice, which included interviews with local customers who say they were “poisoned” by the bakery’s owners.
“The testing proves that it wasn’t cross-contamination; the testing proves that their stuff was regular wheat,” Michelle Beard, a bakery customer, told Fox23. “I one hundred percent view it as poisoning me.”
Fox23 interviewed Monica as well. “My initial reaction as a parent is how can somebody poison your child like that,” she said.
Several Better Than Good customers share their stories on TGFW’s Facebook post, which has amassed over 700 comments.
In addition to the bakery shutting down, the owners are being sued in small claims court for an unpaid loan that the couple reportedly refuses to pay.
Try This Bakery Instead
Morning Maple Co is a home-based gluten-free bakery that is doing gluten-free right. The owner, Aubrey Bushyhead, says she hopes to give Tulsa’s gluten-free community safe baked goods and help fill the gap left by the Better Than Good debacle.
Bushyhead says, “Our family suffers from food allergies and intolerance. We know the battle of facing anything from food allergies to autoimmune disorders and chronic illnesses. We truly believe that food is fuel and medicine.”
The bakery just launched its first treat, the morning maple donut, and they’re in the process of developing a proprietary gluten-free flour blend as well.
Most notably, Bushyhead says she purchased a Nima Sensor “to not only ensure the safety of our consumers but also to put their minds at ease.”
“We believe in full transparency in our ingredients and products as we know how challenging it is for our allergen community. You can always view our full story and menu with the ingredient list on our website,” she says.
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