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TGI(G)F: Utz Potato Chips

April 25th, 2008 by Mandy

Well, it’s a beautiful Friday in our part of the world, and the forecast looks like the sun won’t completely abandon us this weekend, like it did last, but watch out for T-storms tonight and tomorrow! This week we’re praising the Utz company for doing a terrific job in labeling their snack products.

While this looks like your average bag of potato chips, if you flip it over to check the ingredients, like every Glutie does, you will notice these words:

“This Is a Gluten Free Food”

How beautiful is that? It’s like poetry! Utz might as well have written “I love you” on all of their packages! That’s how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel inside! What is so beautiful is that the sentence doesn’t leave the state of gluten up for question. While Utz doesn’t tout its products as GLUTEN FREE with painfully obvious branding, for those who want the information, they can find exactly what they need to know. Also, if you check out their website, they have a really great section explaining what goes into their snacks and how they define gluten free. By the way, if you think all potato chips are gluten free, watch out! I tripped up on some Lay’s Barbecue chips once. I got them out of a vending machine, only to check the label and be disappointed.

When it comes to food labeling, there are a lot of questions that come up. Adrian pointed out to me that the label on his “Dirty’s All-Natural Potato Chips” proudly proclaims, “Contains no wheat glutens.” Does that mean it contains non-wheat glutens? Does it have glutenless wheat? How did they develop glutenless wheat? For me, the biggest question that comes up in my mind when I look at labeling is when it states, “Processed in a facility that also processes wheat.” What is most confusing is when something brags GLUTEN FREE on the front of the box, but then the ingredients state the processing could have been less than gluten free.

I’ve been tripped up on the term “Wheat free” more than once, actually, but I seem to have learned my lesson. The first time, I was in London, and I went to a place called Eat, which was sort of like a Panera or an Au Bon Pain type of place. They boasted that they had a “Wheat free” sandwich. I was so excited that I quickly bought it and after a couple of bites I realized it was rye! I hadn’t yet gambled with rye yet, and I’ll be damned if I’ll waste my dollars to their pounds (4-5 pounds is a reasonable price for a sandwich; 8-10 dollars is NOT), so I took my chance, I ate it, and I lost that gamble. Fortunately 4-5 pounds and 8-10 dollars is a decent price to pay to learn a lesson: Wheat free is misleading.

One last thing that I must rant about when it comes to labeling. The editor in me is just screaming for some uniform punctuation! Gluten-free, Gluten free, even glutenfree! I wonder if there is some sort of MLA guide to gluten free punctuation.

Now, I’d love to see some good comments about this labeling issue, so bring on the anecdotes! While we’re at it, which form of punctuation do you use?

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