It started when Tricia Thompson began sending tweets to Boulder Canyon Foods regarding their Malt Vinegar and Sea Salt Kettle Chips and Malt Vinegar Wavy Potato Kettle Chips cooked in 100% Avocado Oil. Thompson questioned the validity of their claim that the malt vinegar chips,which contain barley, could be labeled gluten free and certified by the GFCO. Although Boulder went on to claim that these chips were indeed certified, sources at GFCO stated "the chips have not undergone an ingredient audit or label approval for GFCO, " which means they are not certified and these chips have been mislabeled gluten free by Boulder.
The result of this mislabeling is that Boulder has erroneously included GFCO's logo on their packaging, so now a Pull Back Notice has been issued requiring them to retrieve all packages of these chips from distributors and stores. No word on how many packages were produced with an inaccurate gluten-free claim, so this pull back could be a lengthy process.
This means, if you see a package of the mislabeled chips, please do not eat them and be sure to notify the store of the situation, so they can be removed from the shelf. How can this happen you ask, given that companies who work to obtain GFCO certification have to go through a thorough plant investigation, ingredient listing, and label approval for each product seeking certification. I have learned through Matthew Jackson, director of Lambert, Edwards & Associates, that
"...both malt vinegar products do test well below the parts per million(PPM) threshold set forth by the FDA and the GFCO. It was our understanding up until Thursday of this past week that these were certified based on that fact, and by the fact that our manufacturing facilities have been certified by the GFCO. We have come to understand that regardless of independent onsite tests, third-party lab tests, and our continuous internal manufacturing tests that show gluten levels for both products at less than 10 PPM, GFCO does not recognize these malt vinegar chips as gluten free."
I would like to point out that the use of malt in a gluten-free product violates the finalized FDA labeling law, which GFCO is upholding by not certifying either of these chips. When working with an organization like the GFCO, each product and its ingredients need to be approved independent of a plant/manufacturing facility inspection.
Jackson went on to say, "We regret this misunderstanding and we are taking immediate proactive steps, including removing Gluten Free language from the Malt Vinegar page of our website and from packaging, so we can eliminate any confusion among our consumers. This is an isolated labeling incident and this does not impact our other gluten-free Boulder Canyon snacks carrying the GFCO logo."
If you have questions about these products, contact Boulder Canyon directly at (866) 890-1004. The GFCO will release an official statement on Monday, January 27.