A Major Supermarket Chain Gets Celiac Disease Totally Wrong

celiac disease not allergy

Ok folks…you have got to see this. This is so bad it’s almost comical.

Except it’s not.

It’s one thing when The Today Show gets celiac disease totally wrong. They are so inept it’s almost to be expected at this point.

But if there is one industry besides the medical community that I expect to be accurate about celiac disease, it is the supermarkets who are the ones promoting, selling, and even making their own gluten free food. It’s not too much to ask that they at least Google what the hell celiac disease is and provide the correct information to their audience. Or maybe it is too much to ask.

This brings us to H-E-B, a large supermarket chain in the southern U.S.

How large?

How about $18 billion of revenue as of 2012. How about No. 12 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies. How about the 25th largest retailer in the United States. How about almost 500,000 Facebook fans and over 20,000 Twitter followers.

Yeah…they’re big.

So how does something like this get published by them?

heb gets celiac wrong

I’m not gonna waste a whole lot of breath on this one. I’m not in the mood to educate a company that won’t spend the slightest effort to educate themselves first.

Suffice it to say, they have no idea what the hell they are talking about. Celiac is an autoimmune disease. And celiac disease is life threatening if left untreated. And the symptoms go so much deeper than what they describe.

People complained to them left and right on Twitter yesterday and 24 hours later, there has been no response. (I’m shocked. Shocked I tell ya.)

And the battle for celiac awareness continues.

What do you say H-E-B, how about a mea culpa?

The Celiac Awareness Theme Song

It’s the same thing night on night
Who’s wrong baby who’s right
Another fight and I slam the door on
Another battle in our dirty little war
It’s the same old story same old act
One step up and two steps back

– Bruce Springsteen, One Step Up and Two Steps Back

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24 thoughts on “A Major Supermarket Chain Gets Celiac Disease Totally Wrong”

  1. Add king soopers/county market to those that just don’t get it. They were the first in my area to have a “gluten free section”. All was good except that the newly diagnosed didn’t know about the “special section” & it didn’t make the revenue they expected. So they started charging GF companies the same as others based on where their product is in the store…result GF bisquick on the BOTTOM shelf right next to the whoie wheat bread machine mix 0Y!!!
    Worse their “lead nutritionist” is now consulting for walmart & heard with my own ears telling the dry goods manager “cost strategy & product placement where people are looking is more important than the celiac drama queens that will make a stink”. I proceeded to make a HUGE stink & she said “if you don’t like where we (walmart) have things come see me at my king soopers, this gluten drama isn’t as big as you are making it, a little won’t hurt you”. By the time I got done telling the section & store managers exactly why I won’t touch the contaminated product at king soopers & reminding them about the americans with disabilities act…the dedicated GF section stayed!!
    I still have to remind the managers that overflow GF cookies & crackers CAN NOT be stored bottom shelf of the cracker section between the wheat thins & triscuits!!! But slowly they are getting it (go stapleton CO walmart, mercedes is great). Seems the king soopers consultant lost her job that day & kings might have accidently found out she was consulting for the competition…whoops πŸ™‚ damn that gluten free drama

    1. Wow!! Such ignorance it’s really unfathomable…so glad you stood up for yourself (& fellow Celiacs) I have done same when things were too close for comfort in my own local store. I demonstrated to manager exactly what happens to me (instant hives) when I’m anywhere near gluten flour. He had such a surprised look of terror on his face, I’m sure it left a lasting impression! “Gluten Dude” and “Jennifer’s Way”…keep up all the good blog posts promoting celiac awareness!! The more people are informed and learn, the less ignorant they become… eventually anyway πŸ˜‰

      1. I did that by rubbing a closed wheat thins box on my arm…then waiting for the rash. Not my favorite instant credibility but I did have benedryl handy.

  2. Gluten Dude…I am speechless! Let me tell you that ME being speechless is very…very…very rare! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Pure and Simple STUPIDITY!

  3. This makes me sad that someone at HEB with media access was able to put this out and their staff didn’t catch it.

    HEB and Central Market actually do a nice job of bringing in quality gfree items. They partner with Gluten Free Nation to have locally produced gluten free items available in their stores. They also provide a comprehensive list of all gluten free items offered store wide.

    This was obviously done separately from their purchasing department.

  4. I just don’t get that at all. How can you possibly put that information out there, knowing how many thousands of people will likely see it, without doing your research??? How irresponsible of them!! It’s always something, right?! Can’t we have some GOOD news for a change in regards to “us?”

  5. aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh! (starting to sound like a bunch of pirates in here)


    Next month, Celiac Awareness Month rolls around once more and just
    look how far we’ve come.


    (and they wonder why we drink, Dude).

    shaking my head back and forth…and taking a sip…..

    1. On the plus side, they are being proactive in reaching out to me directly and we are starting a private discussion. So who knows…perhaps this will bring some awareness.

      Glug…glug…glug πŸ™‚

      1. cool, awareness is great ,,,,,,,,,,but a REWRITE of their materials, now that would be AWESOME….

        Thanks for calling them out, my friend!

  6. “…with a promise to look into it and get back to me ASAP….”

    To look into how the hell they made such a big mistake, or to look into whether in fact we are right that Celiac is an autoimmune disease!!!

  7. Celiac Mindwarp

    Look forward to that useful dialogue then.

    Hey, some of us have to do this without the ‘benefits’ of alcohol πŸ™‚ (d@mn multiple intolerances)

  8. I want to look at something like this and say, well, at least they get that it is a medically required dietary restriction and not some silly fad.

    I want to say, gee, you know that some people can’t eat it and that’s progress.

    And then, I want to hit my head on a brick wall, because it isn’t ok for “educational” articles & marketing materials to get it wrong.

    I have heard people explain celiac disease as a food intolerance or allergy before. At first, I thought it was a good analogy. Allergies are something people understand. And if they understand that I absolutely can’t have something, that is all that matters.

    But not knowing the difference could kill me. And it could cause someone to accuse you of being a band-wagon joiner (and slowly kill you). I’ve gotten “Oh, that’s like Celiac, right? The diet Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus are doing? Just pick the crutons off and don’t be a diva!” (I know celiacs can’t do that either, I am just sharing something someone said to me!)

    Ugh. The world needs to understand that Celiac is very different from a food allergy. And that it isn’t just an inability to eat a certain food (the way lactose intolerance is).

    There are 3 very different medical reasons for being gluten-free, and information that is supposed to be educational should at least get it right.

    I applaud you for being on the front line with all of this. So many of my good friends are celiacs, and they need all the loud voices they can get.

  9. Thats surprising to me…HEB is generally highly reputable. They are known for good pay and benefits for workers and a positive community image around here, but apparently just need some better copy editors for their PR department. I shop at HEB and they have these handy little brown cards with the wheat crossed out next to all gluten free items throughout the store and there’s a special aisle with the same no wheat symbol. They carry a lot of flours and products in my area. They seem to make an effort in their actual store to cater to the GF needs. Hopefully its a terrible editing mistake…

  10. I was dx’d celiac about a year and a half ago. I am still trying to change my life style but it is difficult and I end up being sick more than good. My gastrologist was the Dr who dx’d it , but my family Dr says its not autoimmune because the body is fine when I don’t have Glueton. I kinda understand that, but I also know how sick I can get and feel like dying when it happens. So I am still trying to understand Celiac… why do some say its autoimmune and some say its not.

    1. Kathy
      Your family doctor is absolutely wrong!!!!.
      And if he cannot help you, go back to the gastroenterologist.

      And you really need to get a handle on your diet, hon because every time you ingest even small amounts of gluten, you are sparking the autoimmune response and damaging your intestines. That is why you feel sick so often.

      Please, read reliable information from a reputable Celiac Disease Center like this one:


      And get this book:

      Real Life With Celiac Disease
      by Melinda Dennis and Daniel Leffler

      With celiac, we have to be our own best advocates and only we are in charge of what goes in our mouths and our own recovery.

      Best wishes to you. Hope this helps!

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