Is Campbell’s gluten-free soup ‘celiac safe’?

campbells gluten free soup and celiac disease

A door-to-door salesman rings the bell in a new suburban home and when the door opens, the salesman looks down and sees a four-year-old boy puffing on a long, black cigar. The salesman is taken aback momentarily at the situation and trying to cover his amazement, he says “Good morning, Sonny, is your mother in?” The boy takes the cigar out of his mouth, flicks off the ashes, and says, “What do you think?”

What does this have to do with Campbell’s gluten-free soup? Nothing. But the joke was told by Soupy Sales. Yeah…I know…you don’t have to say it.

Anyway, Campbell’s had a big press release last week that they are adding gluten free soups to their condensed line; Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom and Gluten Free Cream of Chicken varieties to be specific. It’s always a big thing when a huge company like this decides to add some gluten-free products into the mix. It can go really well (although an example escapes me at the moment) or it can go really bad. Like Cheerios bad.

So when I saw the announcement, instead of celebrating it without knowing the facts (yes I’m looking at you CDF), I thought I’d reach out to them directly and see if they really “get it”, if you know what I mean. Here is the email thread.

Dude: Hi. I just saw your press release about the new gluten-free soups you are producing. Very cool. I am a celiac disease advocate. Can you let me know what specific precautions you take to minimize the risk of cross-contamination with gluten? For example, do you use dedicated equipment? Do you have specific protocols in place? Do you test the final product? The more you can share the better so I can let my community know. Many thanks.

They responded…

Campbell’s: Thanks for reaching out! We have a strict two-step process for classifying a product as gluten-free. First, we verify all the ingredients are gluten-free, then we analyze the finished product to make sure it is also free from any gluten. When we declare on a label that a product is “gluten-free,” we ensure that a food bearing this claim in its labeling does not contain any one of the following:

  • Wheat, rye, barley, and oats
  • An ingredient that is derived from wheat, rye, barley, and oats and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  • An ingredient that is derived from wheat, rye, barley, and oats and that has been processed to remove gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food.
  • 20 ppm or more gluten

If you have additional questions, please contact our Consumer Care Team at 800-257-8443

Not a bad answer, but very basic. We don’t use gluten ingredients and the product is below 20ppm does not say much about how they avoid cross-contamination. So I responded…

Dude: Thanks for your response. A few more questions:

  • Do you produce the soup on dedicated lines/machines or do you share it with your regular soups?
  • How often do you test (every batch, every so often, etc.)?
  • What testing method do you use?


And the came back with…

Campbell’s: Our products are not made in a gluten-free facility. However, we have a strict process for validating a product as gluten-free where we first verify all ingredients are gluten-free, then we analyze the finished product to make sure if it also free of any gluten.

So what does that tell you? Not a whole lot.

Are they certified GF? I don’t know.

Do they clean the equipment between making the regular soups and the GF soups? I don’t know.

How do they test? I don’t know.

How often do they test? I don’t know.

What method do they use to test? I don’t know.

That is a lot of unknowns to put your faith in. I will reach out to them further to see if I can get some deeper info, but until I do, my best advice is to tread carefully.

Dude note 2 hours later: I sent them a third email asking them the above questions (Are they certified? Do they clean the equipment? etc). You know what their response was? An exact copy and paste of their original response. F**k these guys.

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11 thoughts on “Is Campbell’s gluten-free soup ‘celiac safe’?”

  1. Thanks for doing the leg work to learn (or not learn in this case) about Campbell’s new “GF” soup. Just like you, I’m often very wary of new GF products from big chains. In fact, I was so freaked out after the Cheerios debacle, I still refuse to try them. And since then, I try to wait a good 6 months without incident before I’ll consider trying something new. Sorry Campbell’s, you won’t get my business.

  2. Thanks for attempting to get answers from these yahoos. I’ve heard that folks are reacting to this stuff. So, no go for this girl.

  3. Thank you for reaching out to them. I too was wondering when these icons of American supermarkets would get on board. I’d expect that they use a GMP facility so that means they do clean between all products. GMP frequently goes wrong when there’s flour in one production line that can get in the air, but I doubt customer service can tell you if that’s happening. Sounds to me like they test every batch, based on what they said about analyzing the finished product. It’s weird that they didn’t answer what kind of test they use. I’d be sad if they hid that because they plan to use something like Nima and don’t want to admit they’re cheaping out. But hopefully they realize it’s a bad idea to do that.

    The mushroom worries me though. I stay away from mushrooms that I don’t know for sure were raised on wood, not grains. So that limits me to imported shiitakes from Japan only. Or ones I get at the farmer’s market where the seller knows I can’t have mushrooms grown on grains.

    I have some Stagg Chili that I’m working up the courage to try. It’s about as “safe” as these GF Campbells Soups, but their CS department is even more clueless. Stagg is the slightly higher quality label of Hormel. I use some McCormick products without issues, but McCormick has had decades of practice to get it right.

    The really hard part is that as I get older I realize how vital it is for large food producers to get this right. I am finally getting some real help with my metabolic problems but my fatigue prevents me cooking every single meal every single day. It’s the same for the elderly, if they cook at all, they can’t do it from scratch every day. The big companies should’ve been the first to offer safe choices. But better late than never.

    Also the fear. The fear of potential gluten keeps me doing as much for myself as possible. The big companies have to understand the psychology of feeling comfortable trying something when you have a disease that can hurt so much.

  4. I had GF cream of chicken soup last night and had a MASSIVE inflammatory response within a couple of hours of use! DO NOT USE if celiac based on my body’s response anyway.

      1. So tried the gf cream of chicken last night. I have been dying since this morning. I tested it in my nima sensor, and it said gluten found. Agreed do not use.

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