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Do You Trust 'Wash Down' of Production Machinery for Gluten?

Mise
Mise

Hi, I posted last year on a nut-butter product that was produced on same line as barley malt product. The company (Meridian) stated the barley malt product is below 20ppm so suitable for coeliac. For those that this is not ok for I queried if this presented a cross contamination risk for the nut/seed butters which they term 'naturally gluten free" (eye roll).

This is their recent response:

" The Meridian Foods Manufacturing site is not a gluten free site. Our manufacturing site packs one product containing gluten – Meridian Barley Malt Extract. As a manufacturing site which handles nuts of many varieties we have a strict wash-down process to avoid cross-contamination of nuts & seeds. This strict wash-down process of course also applies to Barley Malt Extract when this is produced. Meridian Foods can confirm that we are a BRC AA accredited site which means that we are certified in terms of the processes that we carry out. We have to ensure that we conduct a thorough wash-down process, and are able to provide evidence that this has taken place in between production of all of our products."

There is lots more to this email on the specific tests they do to ensure all subsequent products are gluten free/tested.

QUESTION: How much would you trust the wash down process to make the products gluten free, and do you trust the 'wash down' process?

16 Replies
oldestnewest

Hello Mise, I'm afraid this is the curse of codex. I eat Meridian yeast extract and have never had trouble with that.

I've made my own nut butters and here's some with home baked gf bread (Codex free)

Please see:

healthunlocked.com/healthye...

You've mentioned Meridian before so I'd check all the ingredients in their products that upset you.

Manufacturers in the UK and the EU can use wheat derivatives and still say its wheat and gluten free...🤢

Mise
Mise
in reply to Jerry

Thanks Jerry.

I suppose the underlying question is do you trust a production line 'wash down'.

So, you consume the yeast extract, which I assume is made on the same production line as the barley malt (?) - would you trust the wash down of the production line/equipment after the barley malt to make it safe for the other products that are meant to be gf?

There are a number of anomalies on how Meridian list their products:

- When I flagged the issue on the barley malt they removed the gf assertions on their website against each product and have never re-listed that;

- In the blurb narrative on each product (apart from barley malt) they state 'naturally gluten free' but say nothing about testing for gluten, even though they state that by email;

- None of their nut/seed/yeast products are, despite all claims on gf, actually labelled as gf. They claim to test for gluten, and assert all are well below 20ppm. If that safe and regulated, why not state that on the label?;

- They no longer assert anywhere that the barley malt is gf, and other retail sites list this product as containing gluten. They argued the toss last summer that the barley malt qualified as gluten free owing to below 20ppm and therefore no risk. There is no indication anywhere anymore on that;

- In the email they sent me they state the wash-down process is super thorough and to industry standards as their nut and seed products pose cross contamination risk, so asserting that wash-down removes contamination risk. However on their webste they state barley malt not suitable for nut/seed allergy sufferers due to production line risk. So, that clearly is implying wash-down is not effective in removing allergen risk of nuts/seeds, so should it be trusted for gluten.

There just seems to be a massive amount of contradiction going on, and a hell of a lot of mixed messages.

Jerry
Jerry
in reply to Mise

Hi Mise I trust the wash down procedure to be within codex...I belive the yeast extract goes straight into the glass jars so doesnt have the same issues as I'm very senstive to malt and malt that's within codex.

I wish we didnt have allowed levels of gluten in gluten free food full stop.

Mise
Mise
in reply to Jerry

Ah, so it's well away from the risk. That makes sense.

Mise
Mise
in reply to Jerry

Sorry Jerry, without hassling again - which brand of cashew do you use? I'm finding in the past that a 'safe' brand of nuts seems to be an issue. Is there a 'safe' brand you opt for/recommend?

Jerry
Jerry
in reply to Mise

I buy the bags in the supermarket, the ones in many whole food shops are bulk bought and repackaged so they are then repackaged amongst glutenous foods.

One brand that says which of their items are packed separately from any gluten source is Natural Selection, I buy their lentils and quinoa.

I'm sure H&B say what they may have traces of like sesame.

I hope that this helps,

Jerry 😊

Mise
Mise
in reply to Jerry

Thanks Jerry! Yes, very helpful info.

Hi Mise, I agree with Jerry. You seem to have got Meridian rattled. It would appears that they were claiming 'naturally gluten free' without doing the scrupulous testing required to be granted the crossed grain symbol. I do trust their BRC AA, but it is annual and depends on the thoroughness of individual auditors and is just a snapshot. If the auditor requested it, they would have had to show their records for washing down and tests to validate it. I like 'the curse of codex'. I might have to pinch that Jerry.

Mise
Mise
in reply to BabsyWabsy

Thanks BabsyWabsy.

Yes, they do not seem to really know what's what in many ways. They were listed on CUK's list of 'safe' products, including their barley malt (claimed it met codex level). The assertion of gf on the barley malt has now totally disappeared and appearing on all retail sites as 'contains gluten'.

They still claim their products (apart from barley malt) are 'naturally gluten free', but in the drop down list of allergens have removed 'gluten free'. It is a complete hodge-podge of information that conflicts across the board for their assertions on the 'wash down' process and their warnings on all allergens.

I do suspect they may have taken a lot of their original 'gf' advice from CUK as CUK are the only people who, seemingly, in the whole wide world assert barley malt is safe for coeliac.

Meridian's products are lovely though. If they just ditched that one sodding barley malt product (who actually buys that stuff?!!!), their production would be 100% GF and safe.

BabsyWabsy
BabsyWabsy
in reply to Mise

You could say carrots are 'naturally gluten free!' Getting gluten free accreditation is very expensive, which is why many companies don't bother but try and get around it with woolly phrases. If they are making any GF claims, the BRC auditor should have verified it.

Mise
Mise
in reply to BabsyWabsy

They state that they keep all gluten testing records from each batch, so that is probably/possibly for audit purposes.

I still fail to understand if they test every batch for codex level, and keep all the records of that and have the BRC testing/auditing, why they still fail to put gf on their products. They can do that without the CUK certification (in my understanding?).

I think I'm going to stay on this one for a while as it's an excellent example of how the CUK bad information influences practice at production level and how companies invariably make whacky assertions on the basis of the CUK interaction.

BabsyWabsy
BabsyWabsy
in reply to Mise

Strange isn't it? There are other GF certifications available, but they are not shouting about any accreditation on their website. Most companies that achieve BRC AA like to shout about it. I suspect they have had a failed GF test or two, so now they are playing safe with alibi labelling. 'May contain' or 'not suitable for', which is most annoying. I have worked with companies who have done this because there is a risk averse culture. Which reminds me, I must ask a major retailer beginning with A if their new GF bagels, which have no wheat in the ingredients, have some minor ingredients, such as maltodextrin, that are derived from wheat. I tried these this week, I love a bagel, and had a reaction starting 1 hour later and lasting over 24 hours. I know their specifications carry this level of detail. It was the only new thing I had eaten that day. Thanks for the prompt.

Mise
Mise
in reply to BabsyWabsy

I suspect the removal of the gf assertion on the barley malt was a factor. When I communicated with them CUK seem to have a hand in the process somewhere in terms of stating their barley malt met codex standards. Blind leading the blind really. Scary really that something so simple can lead to such a frequent level of f' ups.

In terms of your retailer beginning with A's bagels - if it's the own brand ones, I would query the origin of the yeast as well. Pretty poor that these have made you ill. Good luck with getting a straight answer from them! We need some sort of a gluten alert page on here for dodgey products.

BabsyWabsy
BabsyWabsy
in reply to Mise

That's a good idea, a gluten alert. How about it Admin?

I used to be an A colleague in their food technical team, so won't be fobbed off, I'll be calling head of technical if I need to. You have a food background too I think. Must admit I didn't think about the yeast. The level of detail in the specifications does goes as far as the detailed origin of ingredients, it is just getting them to take it seriously. Alleged illness is usually treated seriously.

Mise
Mise
in reply to BabsyWabsy

I find a lot of companies are good at doing the checks, but yet have had anyone admit any level of cross contamination. I'm currently waiting for H&B to come back on Vitamin D supplement that gave me a reaction - contains Vit E which may be from wheat source despite their assertion the product is wheat-free.

I think the law is just so unhelpful on the additives. So, clear on labelling of the main ingredients but entirely negligent on the source of the additives. Yeast can be from wheat/grain source, but as always no real legal implications around labelling it thus.

I don't have food background but have had to learn a lot in the past 12 months owing to the level of reactions I'm having. I miss the old days of quaffing gf products in ignorance of the ingredients.

I think your industry knowledge is really helpful, and having the 'insider' take on things is beneficial to all on here. We need more insider 'moles' also admin!

BabsyWabsy
BabsyWabsy
in reply to Mise

Completely agree on the lack of transparency around additives, and the <20ppm is just plain wrong. I once had a reaction to some hot smoked salmon made by a small local producer. They bent over backwards to find out. I turns out that they were using a flavouring which was wheat derived. Now, they have green packaging, no wheat and orange packaging = wheat derivative. That is the sort of action and response that we should expect if a product makes you ill. I contacted A yesterday afternoon. I hope they don't fob me off Grrrr...

I am happy to share my insider knowledge. Now retired, I worked in food and agriculture most of my working life, for a number of different companies and a couple of retailers. Moley signing off!

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