Hi Bob. It’s me…Gluten Dude. I hope you had a nice summer. How’s the family? Business good?
Ok…enough small talk.
I am writing to you because I am concerned. As I’m sure you are more than aware by now, one of your products, the “Gluten-Free” Sweet White Sorghum Flour, got officially recalled recently in Canada for having too much gluten. 32ppm to be exact.
How did I know this?
Did I read it on your blog? No.
Did I see it on your Facebook page? No.
Did you tweet about it? No.
You’ve actually been incredibly silent since the word came out.
I found out about it because the celiac community is pretty upset. And when the community gets upset, I guess I have gotten the reputation for being the go-to guy to get the word out.
Not sure where that reputation came from by the way ;) (see Kardashian, Kim).
A number of my fellow celiacs have reached out to you in regards to this recall and this is the response they have all received:
Thank you for getting in touch with us about the voluntary withdrawal of a lot of our sorghum flour. Here are the details, on Tuesday, September 10, 2013, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported that a random test of Bob’s Red Mill Sweet White Sorghum Flour (623 g / Lot 150772 / Sell By: 11/07/2014 / UPC: 0 33978 30642 5) was found to contain 32 parts per million of undeclared gluten. The product was tested for gluten to the company’s 20 parts per million standard for all Gluten Free products in its in-house laboratory before, during and after production. At each point in the process the product was found to be well below the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s standard, which is also a maximum of 20 parts per million.
When the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported its findings, Bob’s Red Mill was very surprised and immediately had samples from the same lot tested both internally and by an accredited 3rd party laboratory. Both tests showed the product to be below 20 parts per million. Despite those confirmations of the gluten free status of the lot of Sweet White Sorghum Flour in question, Bob’s Red Mill has opted to voluntarily withdraw all retail packages of the product from Canadian sources to preserve peace of mind of our loyal, gluten free customers.
This withdrawal only applies to one lot of sorghum flour that was shipped to Canada. It is not an across-the-board withdrawal of our sorghum flour. This particular lot was confined to Canada.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Social Media Manager
I’m not quite sure why your social media manager is handling such a delicate situation but who am I to say.
And saying that you “voluntarily” withdrew all packages is honestly nothing to celebrate.
Bob…you seem like a real good guy who has built a solid business. Total kudos to you. As I’ve said a hundred times in this blog, I root for the small guy.
All I can say is I hope you are right. I hope the Canadian Food Inspection Agency totally messed up and they come out and publicly acknowledge it.
Because if they don’t, you have quite a problem on your hand, don’t you?
How many people swear by your products to stay healthy? How many gluten-free bakeries use your flour in their recipes? How many stores stock your products in their gluten-free section?
If ONE of your products turns out to contain too much gluten, how can we be sure that MANY don’t?
You need to restore the celiac community’s faith in you. So here’s my plea to you Bob.
You currently test your gluten-free products to 20ppm. I get it…that’s all that you need to do by law (well…as of next year.) How about you test to 3ppm, which is the lowest available measure right now? How about you change your production methods so there is no chance in hell that your products can come anywhere near the 20ppm?
I know…it’s easy for me to sit here and say “spend more money Bob”. But I’ve read a lot about you. You have strong values. You stand for something. If you need to raise the price of your flour a touch or cut into your profits a tad, it sucks but is it the “right” thing to do?
As we’ve discussed before here, there are some celiacs who have stopped buying your products because they feel they have gotten sick from them. So you may be on a bit of shaky ground already and this could really be a tipping point for you.
But you have an opportunity to make a change for the better. The celiac community is a pretty awesome and loyal bunch. If you take care of us, I promise…we’ll take care of you.
And one last piece of advice: Please don’t hide behind lawyers. Get out there and tackle this issue head on. Otherwise, it just looks like you’re hiding something.
I hope things work out for you.