Kroger’s ‘Gluten Free’ Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips
April 12th, 2018
Dear @kroger, Please stop labeling Kroger brand products gluten-free if they contain malt, malt syrup/malt extract, or malt vinegar (all from barley). These ingredients are NOT allowed in foods labeled gluten-free in the US per the FDA. We’ve been telling you this since 2016.
— GlutenFreeWatchdog (@GFWatchdog) March 27, 2018
Last month, Gluten Free Watchdog, a website that tests food labeled “gluten free,” called out Kroger on Twitter for alleged violations of FDA guidelines on gluten-free food labeling. That same day, over on its Facebook page, the group targeted a specific Kroger product — the supermarket chain’s salt and vinegar potato chips — for inappropriate “gluten free” claims on packaging.
What specifically was Gluten Free Watchdog’s beef? Not beef, barley.
Kroger’s salt and vinegar potato chips contain malt vinegar powder, an ingredient derived from gluten-containing barley that Gluten Free Watchdog says has not been processed to remove gluten and thus violates the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule.
“The only malt vinegars that are distilled are those labeled ‘distilled malt vinegar,'” the group wrote in response to a comment on its March 27 tweet. “The rest are fermented and not distilled.”
So it’s the word “distilled” that those with celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten need to check for. And the onus is indeed on the consumer to scope out the ingredients as the FDA’s rule does not require that manufacturers test for gluten in order to make a gluten-free claim.
In the course of writing this ad alert, TINA.org found another brand of salt and vinegar potato chips at a local lunch spot labeled “gluten free” that listed white distilled vinegar as an ingredient. So there you have it.
TINA.org reached out to Kroger for comment. Check back for updates.
Find more of our coverage on food whose gluten-free claims have been challenged here.