The Killer Bread That Almost Lived Up to Its Name

by Jeanne on July 14, 2012

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 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. 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.

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.  Never again.

 

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan August 11, 2012 at 6:52 am

What a horrible experienxe. I am so sorry you went through that. Unbelievable.
Thank you for this site. It’s, by far, my fave gf site and I’m very grateful for your GF AP flour recipe. It’s really incredible. Thanks.
Hopefully, these companies will wake the heck up and take responsibility for their products. Very much appreciate the heads-up.

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Christine July 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

THANK YOU so much. This is helpful information and I feel so much better. I will tell my family we will all be gluten-free for our daughter’s health :) We’ll check out the donut recipes. Take care :)

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Christine July 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Hello. I’m glad I found your website. My daughter is 12 and has life-threatening, severe wheat allergy and celiac disease. It is the oddest case, she cannot be near wheat or ingest. Even if someone has touched bread then touches her she will react severely. If someone bakes bread item in oven or cooks wheat pasta, she has a reaction. She reacts to wheat in lotions, shampoos, etc. If she ingests wheat she will have anaphylaxis and/or celiac symptoms and if her food is cross contaminated with wheat or even if GF items are made in a facility that processes wheat, she has as severe reaction (swelling, itching, hives, etc).she was diagnosed last year so we have learned alot. But we are now at the point, where we are going to install a separate oven for her food. Although I am ok with going wheat/gluten free, the whole family has not made that change yet. I just found your site, so I’m hoping I can get good info. here and maybe find others in similar situation as my daughter. Particularly, my daughter is looking for a GF donut (frosted with sprinkles) it would be her dream!!!! Let us know if you have found this. Thanks and nice finding you!

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admin July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Christine: Oh man. I’m so sorry for your daughter. Sigh. It’s very tough for kids. My daughter has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. I would highly encourage you to talk to your family about having the house be gluten free. Having wheat in house is like having a poison that only kills her. I use that argument. We are a peanut and gluten-free family. Much safer!

I do have some donut recipes on the site. A pumpkin, a plain, and crullers. You can use the cruller glazes for the plain donuts and then add sprinkles! :) Look under my recipe tab.

Happy baking!

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Nurit - familyfriendlyfood July 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm

So glad you are OK and lived to tell this story and lesson.

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Kadee July 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

This is too bad to hear that this bread’s website and verbiage are misleading. I’m not gluten-free and I do love the taste of the bread. I’m really sorry – it seems like they should just be up front and say they are wheat based to cut down on confusion. If someone is intolerant to wheat and they are wheat based, why even try to appeal to them? They don’t need to be a jack of all trades …

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Dan Letchinger July 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hi Everyone,

First off, I am deeply sorry that the miscommunication regarding our product led Jeanne to be hospitalized. Make no mistake, we take this matter very seriously! But I want to take some time to clarify some of the comments above and offer some of our feedback.

First, we have NEVER claimed this product was gluten-free. We specifically instruct our sales and customer representatives not to make false claims like this–I have serious doubts about the owner of the restaurant’s claim that someone from our company informed them that this product was gluten-free. I can’t stress enough that we go to great lengths to communicate to our employees and customers that NONE of our products are gluten-free.

Second, here is the actual text on back panel of the Good Seed Spelt bag:

“Spelt is NOT gluten free! Spelt, wheat’s ancestor, is considered wheat by the fda. 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! NOT for celiacs!”

Unfortunately, a previous version of this text that did not start with the “Spelt is NOT gluten-free line” was on our product page–we have since updated it with this text. I understand how the previous text (see Jeanne’s post above) could be construed as misleading IF the text was not read thoroughly–hence the change to the text you see above which should clarify any misunderstandings. However, I do want to reemphasize that on both versions of the bag and website product page, we mention that this product is not gluten-free. We are not trying to cloak this message in a faux cute manner to mislead customers.

We are an honest company and have absolutely no desire to hood-wink potential gluten-intolerant customers into trying our products–this is dishonest, incredibly dangerous and irresponsible, and just plain bad business. People ask us if we have gluten-free products all the time, and as much as we would like to have a gluten-free product on the market, we ALWAYS say NO. There is no wiggle room here–this issue is and always will be black and white for us.

I would also like to direct your attention to the FAQ page on our website (http://www.daveskillerbread.com/killer-bread/faq.html), which has the question “Do you make gluten free bread/why don’t you?” Here is our answer (also on that page):

“Dave’s Killer Bread is not gluten free. Without gluten, it just wouldn’t be Dave’s Killer Bread.”

We also have linked a video on the same page where we have Dave explaining why we don’t have a gluten-free bread available, you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/rdOnPPeqJAU.

Again, I am deeply troubled by Jeanne’s experience, and it is my hope that we can avoid situations like this happening in the future if we, as a commenter suggested, ALWAYS carefully check the labels on products, especially baked goods like our Good Seed Spelt bread.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me: dan@daveskillerbread.com.

Thank you for your time,

Dan Letchinger
Marketing Supervisor
Dave’s Killer Bread

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AmandaonMaui July 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm

It seems to me that both the restaurant, and the supplier, could have done a better job to prevent something like this from happening. The labeling on the product could have been more clear and the restaurant could have checked the labeling more closely before serving it to their customers.

Since it was at the end of the loaf, it makes me wonder how many other people were made sick by that loaf of bread.

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Laura July 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

I have a gluten intolerance and I get so mad when some people I run into think that we don’t eat gluten as a fad. While it may be true for some people who decide to skip gluten as a new dietary trend, gluten allergies and intolerance are real. I am glad you are okay. I would send them the emergency visit bill.

I am glad you are okay.

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Sarah July 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

I’m sorry, I don’t agree with you here. First off, why aren’t you writing a scathing article about the restaurant (that you don’t name) serving you something that is supposed to be GF when it isn’t? The fault lies with the restaurant. All because a google search result comes up with “Good Seed Ancient Bread is gluten-free” doesn’t constitute research, which, by the way, I wasn’t able to reproduce this search result when googling the spelt bread. The top result says “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 …”
Also, you and the restaurant didn’t read the label. That is simple enough to tell. Also, it’s Daves Killer BREAD. As in, they obviously do not have a GF kitchen, because…ya know, they make bread and all. It’s awful you got so horribly sick but I think you’re pointing your finger at the wrong people. Their website isn’t confusing, and it makes no sense that they’d go out of their way to purposely trick people into eating their gluten-FULL bread when the consequences of doing so are so drastic. The restaurant should have done their due diligence before serving bread like that to their customers.

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Jonell Galloway July 15, 2012 at 2:37 am

Thanks for such an enlightening article. Many people think it’s just a fad, but for people like you it’s a matter of life and death, and restaurants and food sellers have no right, legally or ethically, to play around with that.

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Kelly July 15, 2012 at 1:49 am

As a former restaurant employee (10 years +) I think there are two things at fault here: 1) ignorant restaurant owners trying to cash in on a diet “trend” and 2)ignorant customers who say they are “allergic” when they are really just jumping on the latest diet bandwagon.

Restaurant owners and cooks then offer what they believe to be “gluten-free” (or low-carb, or fat-free, or vegan or whatever) and the people who say they are allergic (but really aren’t) don’t react, so the restaurant believes that whatever they have prepared is actually okay. Then the rare person who actually has a life-threatening reaction comes in, and really, how can you tell the difference? I know I took claims of food allergy much more seriously when someone came in with a medical bracelet. (That is not to say that I didn’t take them seriously without it…just went the extra mile to double check labels myself or find them for customers.)

In the end, restaurant cooks and waiters are, as a rule, unskilled laborers with minimal education, much less education about allergies and allergens. I now live in Germany, where there are actually expectations that food service workers have a much higher level of education and professionalism, and I have found it much easier to explain my allergies and expect them to be taken seriously here.

I am also really, really sorry that you had to go through this. And I am also relieved that you survived the ordeal. What an awful experience!

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Dana July 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Going to ask you about your semantics, here: So, if you’re not allergic, you shouldn’t request special consideration at restaurants? Those with celiac don’t have a food allergy to gluten- they have an autoimmune response to gluten, that may not affect them at the moment but will slowly destroy their intestines.
Those of us who are gluten-intolerant have trouble digesting gluten. I personally would not have to go to the hospital when I have gluten, but the reaction is incredibly painful for me- first it feels as if I’m in labor, later my joints ache for days, my thyroid antibodies go up, and I have a hard time functioning for weeks after.
I think it’s not just those who have allergies that should be considered here, but maybe you are putting what I described above in the same category as allergies.

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admin July 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Dana: I’m not sure what you’re saying here. I never said anything about a wheat allergy being better or worse than a gluten intolerance. If you read my “About” page, you will know that I also have a gluten intolerance that was diagnosed 12 years ago. My wheat allergy seems to have developed about 4 years ago. Both are horrible. This particular situation was a life-threatening one for me because of the allergy and required an ER visit in order to potentially save my life–and that is what I described. But, I do know how horrible the reaction is to a gluten intolerance and I also know how serious it is.

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Kelly July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I think this reply is directed at me. I did say that, as a restaurant employee (both in the kitchen and “front of the house”) it was much easier to take someone seriously who came in with claims of allergy and a medical bracelet. That is not to say it is right to ignore claims of allergy, but when you are sending up 100 meals in a shift, and 20 of them have alterations because the customer claims to be “allergic”, and it’s really busy and you don’t really have time to go digging in the trash for the label, and your supervisor/marketing manager/owner is telling you “never say no”, and you need to try to make the other 80 meals successful, well, you might just not go the extra mile. BUT, when someone calls ahead–like a half a day ahead, not a half an hour–you have the time to look things over. If a customer has a bracelet, well, then you know it’s not going to throw the marketing guy in a tizzy if, for once, you just say “no, you can’t order that. I’m not sure what’s in it”.

I have celiac, and can’t tolerate milk or soy products. I usually try to call ahead, but that often doesn’t happen because we eat out rarely, and when we do, it is generally fairly spontaneous. I eat at trusted restaurants where I have previously gotten “clean” food. Still, it sometimes happens that I get cross-contamination or even overt gluten. With a life-threatening allergy you can’t afford to take even that risk. I don’t think that people who have intolerances (like mine!) are less important, but I won’t die if I get glutened. I might wish I had, but that’s another story. I do think we expect an awful lot of restaurant workers, who are not required to have a degree in biology, or even a high-school diploma for that matter. If you have a life-threatening allergy, wear a bracelet, carry your Epi-pen, and check the labels yourself. Your life depends on it.

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D July 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Yikes Jeanne! Glad you’re okay, and I hope Dave’s starts marketing their products differently ASAP. (This is the first I’ve heard of them; maybe they’re a newer company and ignorant about the need for clear labeling). If you have not yet already, why not e-mail them directly and share this blog entry? You may help countless others avoid the same fate–if the company gives a crap, that is.

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Mira Dessy July 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm

So scary! So glad that you are okay. It is indeed frustrating how many people dont take food allergies seriously. I think places which serve food need to understand that if someone is asking about a food item it is not a whim and not something to be taken lightly. As in your case, and many others, it can be life threatening.

Thank you for writing and sharing your story. The more this kind of thing gets out hopefully the more people will pay attention.

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Diane July 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Wow, Jeanne, I’m sure glad you are OK. I’ve had it suggested to me that I ought to try spelt and kamut. Don’t think so, no, thank you. This is the first time I’ve heard of emmer. I think I’ll make a note of it in my book. No, I’m not writing one…just realized how that sounded. I got a book from a website that has been really handy. It’s “Gluten Free Grocery Shopping Guide” by Matison & Matison, and it goes everywhere I go. I hope you thoroughly enjoy the rest of the weekend!

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Lisa R July 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Yikes! Ignorant people like that are the scary ones. Yes, never trust them. I ran across a restaurant owner like this who was developing what he thought was GF breads and such for his restaurant. When I asked him what flours he was using and how he was baking them, his reply was along the lines of, “Oh I’ve had very good success using spelt”. I promptly told him spelt is wheat and is NOT GF. He looked at me like he thought I was an idiot. I proceeded to tell him what grains and flours were not GF and that there is much more to changing to GF baking than just not using regular flour. He was an ass to put it quite simply. I cheered when he went out of business 2 months later! Needless to say he’s also no longer in town!

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EF Slattery July 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm

In response to Saiya’s comment: that passage that the line’s taken from is equivocating at best and misleading with life-threatening consequences at worst. “On the other hand, lots of wheat-sensitive people have discovered that this bread totally agrees with them” is a faux-cute way of avoiding clear and responsible labeling. And only on the second contact did the company admit that the bread is not, in fact, gluten free.

It’s irresponsible marketing that had dire consequences and it’s *entirely* appropriate to call them out.

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Tracy July 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that, how awful! I had a similar experience in high school at a Hard Rock Cafe with my peanut allergy, which is also severe – I told them about my allergy, was assured that I would be fine, and then they served me peanut oil-laden food. I had to be taken to the hospital. So glad you are okay!!

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Saiya July 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm

The line on their site actually says “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.” That is VERY clear. It isn’t their fault that only part of the line comes up on a google search. I’m thinking this was all a big misunderstanding and it’s probably not fair to call them out in this way.

I’m so sorry that you became sick though. I, too, have life threatening food allergies, so I know how scary it can be.

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kelly July 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

whoa! Glad you are ok!!!♥

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emily July 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I’m truly appalled at how vague and convoluted that bread description is on their website. It’s not coy or fun, it’s deceiving. I cannot believe companies run this way.

I am happy to hear you’re doing ok after all this, but what a scary reminder to constantly read packaging.

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Dee Nash (@reddirtramblin) July 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Oh, you poor dear. I’m so very sorry. I can’t believe they sold spelt bread as gluten free. Thank God and hospitals you’re okay.~~Dee

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Amber July 14, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Jeanne, I am so glad you’re okay! What a scary day. Thanks for sharing so that we all learn the lesson.

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