Today I was served some of Dave’s Killer Bread at a restaurant. As it turns out, the name of the bread is unfortunately close to the truth for me. The owner of the restaurant was so happy when she heard I was gluten intolerant because she said that she just started carrying gluten-free bread made by Dave’s. She said that she was told by the company that the bread was gluten-free. As it turns out, the bread she serves is the spelt bread. As you may know, spelt is an older form of wheat and it contains gluten. When I started having my reaction, the owner called Dave’s to double check that the bread was gluten-free. This time the guy at the company admitted that it contained gluten.
As you know, I have a (recently diagnosed) life-threatening allergy to wheat in addition to a gluten-intolerance. I had to be rushed to the hospital to treat the anaphylaxis from the allergy–which can be fatal. This is not something to play round with. I was very lucky that it wasn’t worse.
FYI: If you go to Dave’s site, they do not claim that their bread is gluten-free, but they do have some tricky line editing in the description of the bread that makes their spelt bread look like it’s gluten-free if you don’t read it carefully. And a Google search comes up with the line, under Dave’s site, that says, “Good Seed Ancient Grain (Spelt) is gluten-free.” (!)
ADDED: Here’s a cut-and-paste of the bread description on their site:
“What is Spelt? Spelt is an ancestor to wheat, and the FDA says
it is wheat. That’s ok, because I wouldn’t want people to think
Good Seed Ancient Grain (Spelt) is gluten-free.
On the other hand, lots of wheat-sensitive people
have discovered that this bread totally agrees
with them. And people who aren’t wheat sensitive agree…it’s just great bread! This 100%
whole-grain bread is loaded with fiber and flavor. Amazing toasted!”
Why they would even mention that “wheat-sensitive people” should try this bread is beyond me. And look at how they have set up the third line: if you read it quickly, you would think they are saying it’s gluten-free.
Every so often, I run across a company like this–one that seems to want people to believe that older forms of wheat have no gluten. Often they outright lie about it. There used to be an emmer farm that sold their products at Seattle farmer’s markets around town. They swore that emmer (another old form of wheat) not only didn’t contain gluten, but also was not wheat. Other gluten-intolerant people and I would try to talk sense into them whenever we went to the farmer’s market, but they would argue that we didn’t know what we were talking about. It was crazy-making. I think they finally got kicked out of the farmer’s market system in Seattle a few years ago when a little girl with a wheat allergy had a reaction to one of their products at a farmer’s market and they had to call 911.
I’m not sure why companies do this–I think they must not believe that a reaction can be this serious and, therefore, they are cavalier with their information. But their unwillingness to be honest could have cost me my life. This experience was a wake-up call for me: it reinforced for me that I need to be even more vigilant about reading labels and seeing packaging when I am eating out of my home. And I am sharing this experience to show other people the deceptive practices of some (not all) big companies and to show you that you need to be vigilant too, if you are diagnosed with gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy.
I learned something from this experience: if I don’t recognize the name of the company a product comes from in a restaurant, I will ask to see the packaging and, if I can’t see the packaging, I won’t eat the product. This was a case of a restaurant owner who doesn’t really know the ins and outs of gluten (and I think she needs to do some research to educate herself). When I asked to see the packaging, they didn’t have it–they had thrown it away because they were at the end of the loaf. And I was lax and I believed them. I learned my lesson: Never again.
PS: This happened in 2012. I’m closing the comments to this post.