Shared Equipment? Say it Ain’t So Pamela’s.

is pamelas celiac safe

If you’ve got celiac disease, and since you are reading this post, I will assume you do, you most likely have eaten Pamela’s products at some point in your gluten-free life. If not eaten them, at least seen them on the store shelves. Here’s a little history for you, taken from their website:

Pamela’s Products was founded by Pamela Giusto-Sorrells in 1988. Born into a family of bakers in Northern California, Pamela used her passion for baking to create a new kind of company out of her very own kitchen. Her mission from the beginning was to give her family, and yours, DELICIOUS gluten-free foods crafted with love and the highest quality ingredients.

Pamela’s was always made in a certified gluten-free facility on obviously dedicated equipment. Looking for proof? Yes I’ve come prepared. Below is the label on their [old] Pancake & Baking Mix.

is pamela's celiac safe

As clear as day. One thing you may pick up on, which I never knew, is that their product was never made in a “dedicated” gf facility, but a “certified” one. It seems on the other side of the facility there were non-GF products being produced by another company. I’d like to assume they had all of the protocols in place to keep their products safe. But you know what can happen when you assume something. Tell ’em Felix:

Anyway, that brings us to today. I got a message on my app from someone that said “I have been using Pamela’s pancake and baking mix for years. I just noticed my newest bag says it is manufactured on equipment that processes wheat. Should I be concerned?”

What? No…really…what?!?!

Yep it’s true. Note the picture at the top of this post. Heck I’ll make it easier on you and repeat it here.

is pamelas celiac safe

Notice the new packaging AND the new labeling. No certified facility and now using shared equipment. Not cool.

Let me first go over the legalities. Including the “shared facility” or “shared equipment” on packaging is completely voluntary. GF products you are eating right now may be made in/on a shared whatever, but the packaging may not say so. Yes…the laws always seem to favor the corporations over the people. Repeat after me: USA! USA! Ok…moving on.

But why oh why would Pamela’s change their production procedure and now use shared equipment? Well it turns out that Pamela’s was purchased by another company in 2019. Which company? Good question. It is Quinoa Corporation, the US group that does business as Ancient Harvest. But this is where it gets really confusing. Well to me at least but I do set a pretty low bar. As far as I can tell, all of Ancient Harvest products are gluten-free. Tell me if I’m wrong.

Here is my question to both Pamela’s and Ancient Grain: Why the hell did you not notify your customer base that the production practices had changed. I’ve looked on both websites and both Facebook accounts and I can’t see anything about now using shared equipment. For a company that has been supported by the celiac community for many, many years, this is lame/infuriating/bullshit. I personally will never eat a product that is made on shared equipment. A shared facility perhaps but depends on several factors.

And another question…if both Pamela’s and Ancient Grains both sell 100% GF products, who are they sharing equipment with. The whole thing is…off.

The point is our disease requires 100% transparency from these companies. Our health is at stake. And if you change your production methods, increasing the risk of cross-contamination, and don’t tell anyone, perhaps hoping no one would notice, well you lost my respect. And you certainly lost me as a customer.

Us celiacs are a loyal bunch. Be open and honest and we got your back. Pull crap like this and … speaking for myself … I’m outta here!

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7 thoughts on “Shared Equipment? Say it Ain’t So Pamela’s.”

  1. Same problem on the Whenever Bars new light-blue box:
    “Pamela’s products are produced on equipment that processes Peanuts, Other Tree Nuts, Wheat, Soy and Milk.”
    Nothing like that on the old box. Boo-hiss!

  2. Thank you so much for pointing this out. Not sure I would have caught it but instead just given it to my kids without another thought, since Pamela’s has been so dependable in the past. Another excellent reminder that I can’t get lazy about reading labels. And I will DEFINITELY be sending an email to the company.

  3. Hello, Pamela’s here. We apologize for the confusion surrounding our updated allergen statement. The statement was worded incorrectly on our pancake mix, baking mixes and flours and we are working to correct the error. Contrary to the language of the statement, we NEVER use shared equipment on those products. As has been the case for the past 35 years, all Pamela’s pancake, baking mix & flour products are manufactured on dedicated gluten-free lines that never run any product with wheat. We even go above and beyond the FDA’s gluten-free requirements, which require certified gluten free products to be at 20ppm (parts per million) or less, by ensuring that our products test at 10ppm or less for gluten.
    Our customers’ safety is our #1 priority, and we have a robust sanitation and allergen control program in place to ensure that every product we deliver is gluten-free. If you are looking to avoid gluten, do not worry. Our pancake, baking mix & flour products meet and exceed gluten-free requirements. They always have, and they always will.

      1. Our baked ready-to-eat items, including our Snack Bars, Cookies and Grahams, do utilize a different manufacturing facility for production. At this facility items containing wheat are produced for other brands 2 weeks of every month. However, when it is Pamela’s turn to run, we shut all the lines down and have a robust sanitation and allergen control program that cleans all the lines and rooms to ensure we adhere to our brand’s strict standards. Once clean, all areas are tested to our rigorous standards before production resumes. Rest assured that all our products adhere to our 10ppm or less gluten standard (well below the FDA guideline) and are tested and certified by the GFCO to be gluten free. We take the safety of our consumer very seriously and appreciate you calling attention to brands to learn more about their procedures for maintaining gluten free standards.

    1. I really appreciate the response. I am more likely to return to a product after a “scare” if the manufacturer speaks out about what they are doing. For example, I haven’t bought Canyon bread since they basically blew off the Celiac community after a scare. I say this to assure you that your response matters a lot to this consumer’s confidence.

      Just to clarify, it’s dedicated equipment, not dedicated facility? I ask because if you look at the studies done on wheat allergy (baker’s allergy), flour stays in the air for days after being used. If there are 8 “lines” in a room, then the line closest to the line using wheat flour is most likely to be contaminated most often.

      That doesn’t mean it is contaminated. If you have a robust testing program and are prepared to lose any batches that become contaminated, and you test all batches, then I feel safe enough. If you only test once a week or month or something and it’s just one batch at random, then I feel much less safe.

      I know this sounds incredibly micromanaging, but I’m looking for a medical necessity, not a weight loss product. I hope you understand.

      Your pancake mix, the nut based one, we love it! Please don’t deprive my family of it. We’ve already given up so many foods.

  4. People with Celiac disease are the ultimate example of why free market forces won’t produce the most efficient system. Our doctors tell us to go buy food that’s medically required to be a certain way. But oversight of the food system is not strong enough to make medically required food actually safe for us. Oversight of the food system has the goal of producing food that’s “just safe enough” not to hurt people most of the time, without harming profits. That doesn’t work for people with Celiac disease.

    I think flour is one of the biggest risks. Or anything made from flour.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

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