Because we are so special & have to quadruple check EVERYTHING we eat, we get to call manufacturers on a regular basis!!
How do you know if you need to call a product manufacturer?
- If you look through the ingredients & see one that you are unfamiliar with.
- If it does not have the Gluten Free Certified stamp of approval on it.
- If it’s a new product on the market & it’s not clear on the package whether or not it has gluten/wheat.
- If there are any questions you have that cannot be answered from the packaging.
How do you know if you do not need to call a product manufacturer?
- If you see an ingredient that contains wheat, listed in the ingredient list.
- If, at the bottom of the ingredient list, it says MAY contain wheat. We translate this as a cross contamination risk. If you call the manufacturer, they most likely will tell you that they cannot guarantee the product to be gluten free because of the risk of cross contamination. Thus eliminating your need to call.
- If at the bottom of the ingredient list it says, processed on equipment that also processes wheat. For the same reason we don’t call on number two; possible cross contamination.
If you are still unsure about something, it’s always best to make a quick call to the manufacturer!
Steps for calling the manufacturer:
- Locate the number from the product packaging or internet.
- Call the number. Depending on which manufacturer you call, there is usually an option to be connected with the allergy department or customer service. If it is after hours, leave a message detailing specifically what you are checking on.
- Ask the representative if the product is gluten free. In our experience, they usually always know.
Just a tip! Have the product in front of you when you call. When we called Log Cabin for instance, the representative asked for the bar code number, the city, & store we bought it in. It’s rare that they’re this thorough but its nice to have the product on hand, just in case!
A Glupid Phone Call
Although it is usually really easy to call, and the representative is usually really nice, be aware you might get someone who is having a bad day. One day, we called to check on Burt’s Bee’s Honey Cough Drops & were taken for quite the ride!
The ingredient list included natural flavor, which sometimes contains gluten, and when you are sick, you really don’t want to take the risk & get “gluten sick”. So. Bri decided to call! When she got the representative on the line, she asked, “Do you know if your cough drops are gluten free?”
The lady then began to educate her on cross contamination risk.
This is fairly common when you call manufacturers. They want to make sure you really understand the cross contamination factor, if there is one (there may be a liability factor there as well). After a while, it was clear the rep was NOT going to give Bri a straight answer. Bri had to explain to her (a few times) that she understood the risk she might be taking with cross contamination & she would make that decision, BUT she wanted to know if there was an actual ingredient that contained gluten. The lady continued to educate her on the equipment & the process, yatta yatta, with great attitude. At this point it was getting unproductive to be listening to the lady repeat her un-useful information & Bri was getting frustrated that she still did not know if they contained gluten, so she hung up on her (which is very unusual for Bri, and shows how far she was pushed).
A few minutes later, the representative called back & was acting like a different person.
She acted as though the prior conversation never took place. Toward the end of the call, Bri, feeling harassed, asked the lady to please not call her again & she asked for the representative’s name (so she could report her to her supervisor). The lady refused to give Bri her name & started asking for Bri’s name? So weird! Bri didn’t feel it relevant to give the lady her name & when she asked to speak to a supervisor, the rep refused. Needless to say, we got the lady’s name & didn’t bother calling her supervisor because we were too exhausted from that phone call. YUCK!
In the two & a half years that we’ve been gluten free, this was by far the worst call we’ve had when speaking to a manufacturer, or rather, a customer service agent, representing the company. All the other calls have been quite pleasant & we hope for the continuation of happy, helpful reps in the future for us & you!
The cough drops are gluten free but they can’t certify them because they are manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat.
Oh, and thanks Buzzfeed for the gif’s!