The Canyon Bakehouse recall. What happened & what’s next?

canyon bakehouse recall

This one hurt. This one felt personal. They warned me. Never develop an emotional relationship with gluten-free brands. But dang…Canyon Bakehouse. Really?!

Sure…we’ve had recalls before. Who can forget the Cheerios sh*tstorm, when 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios were recalled because of wheat flour entering their gluten free oat flour system (a system that sucks by the way)?

And there was the time when Bob’s Red Mill had a recall because their gluten-free flour had too much gluten in it. Huh?

And who can forget when Hepworth had to recall their gluten-free beer (which was actually gluten-removed…don’t get me started) because…wait for it…it contained EXCESSIVE LEVELS OF GLUTEN (and yes, I’m shouting.)

But Canyon Bakehouse? Man oh man. We were friends. We went back a long ways. You were actually my first kiss.

For those of you unaware, it was announced yesterday that there was a recall of two Canyon Bakehouse items due to gluten exposure. Here’s the official release:

Flower Foods [I’ll to get them below] is voluntarily recalling certain Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bread and Canyon Bakehouse Everything Bagels due to the potential presence of gluten. Consumption of this product by people with a wheat allergy, celiac disease, or gluten or wheat sensitivity may cause adverse health effects or serious allergic reactions.

The products being recalled were distributed to retail customers in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The recall was initiated after finished product testing revealed the possible presence of gluten.

No related illnesses or incidents have been reported to date. Following is information about the products involved in the recall. People should not consume products if both the UPC and Lot Number are noted on the package. The Lot Number is printed on the plastic closure that seals the bag.

Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bread
UPC: 8-53584-00200-3
Lot:032220323

Canyon Bakehouse Everything Bagels
UPC: 8-53584-00221-8
Lot: 032220316

Let’s parse this with some quick GD comments:

  • I detest when they use the words “voluntarily recall” like they are doing us a favor. Every single company seems to use this language. You’re not heroes…trust me.
  • How do they exactly know there have been no reported illnesses? When I get glutened, it’s a 2 day delay before I feel like crap. I usually have no idea what the culprit was. And based on my Facebook feedback alone, it seems a lot of people have been getting sick lately who have been eating their bread, never expecting Canyon Bakehouse could be the cause.
  • Guess what is sitting in my fridge right now? CB Mountain White Bread and CB Everything Bagels. I kid you not. I rarely eat bread but my Dudette is gluten and dairy free and CB is the only brand that is somewhat consistently good. It seems my area was not affected though. It should be noted that there was no Lot Number on the Mountain Bread package. Not good.

Now a little history lesson. There will be a quiz afterwards but it will be open book so no need to worry.

Canyon Bakehouse started in 2009 after co-founder Christi Skow was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The Canyon Bakehouse mission was to make high-quality, great-tasting gluten-free breads. And life was good for the celiac community. We all needed an alternative to awful Udi’s and Canyon Bakehouse delivered. Within 8 years, they employed 206 people and operated in a 165,625-square-foot bakery with two production lines.

They delivered so well that in 2018, the company was purchased by Flower Foods for…gulp…$205 million. Absolute kudos to Christi and her co-founders, who stayed on board as part of the sale. You may be asking who the heck Flower Foods is. Great question. Flowers Foods, Inc. is one of the largest producers of fresh packaged bakery foods in the United States with 2017 sales of $3.9 billion. They operate bakeries across the country that produce a wide range of bakery products. Among their other brands? Wonder and Tastykake. Puke and pukier.

These sales occur all the time and I get it. Yay capitalism. But we all know what happens when a publicly traded conglomerate buys a small business. The main focus becomes the shareholders instead of the customers. Instead of all decisions being based on what is best for the consumer, it’s based on what is best for the bottom line. Again…yay capitalism.

The history lesson is over and now we’re back to the present.

I announced the recall on Facebook last night at 6:42. The reaction was immediately visceral. As of right now, the post has gotten over 358 comments and 469 shares. And to a tee, everyone feels betrayed; shocked; and really, really angry.

So what has Canyon Bakehouse said about all of this? To their credit, they’ve been open. Last night, they made the following announcement:

As a dedicated gluten-free bakery, we follow the strict guidelines of the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). One of these guidelines involves frequent and thorough testing of finished baked goods for the presence of gluten. Recently, internal testing of some finished baked goods revealed the possible presence of gluten outside of GFCO standards. Unfortunately, a small quantity of this product was inadvertently shipped to the marketplace.

Providing safe and delicious foods to those with food sensitivities is foundational for our company. We extend our deepest apologies for letting you down. We will be conducting a full-scale audit of our shipping and inventory management practices to ensure this does not happen again.

I actually received a long email last night from the CB Marketing Director, who I’ve had a working relationship with for years. She’s a good person and I cannot imagine the panic within their company right now. Here’s a blurb of what she said to me:

As a company that was founded by someone with Celiac, we take allergen safety very seriously as it has been part of our DNA from the very beginning. So, it is beyond painful that we now have two products that are being recalled. We extend our deepest apologies for letting you down. We will be conducting a full-scale audit of our shipping and inventory management practices to ensure this does not happen again.

I appreciate the fact that she emailed me. I’d like to think it’s sincere and not dictated by their legal team. The problem is they have no idea how it happened. Or they do and they are not telling us. And that’s huge.

So what’s next? How do they gain the trust of the celiac community again? In my opinion, here are the questions they need to answer asap, with complete honesty and transparency.

  1. I’ll start with the biggest and most obvious one: How the hell does a product get contaminated when it’s produced in a 100% gluten-free facility??
  2. Step by step, what is the procedure for getting CB products from production to the shelves and where exactly is the risk involved?
  3. Within this procedure, what specifically will be changing to ensure it never happens again?
  4. When/how/where will you be announcing the results of your audit and will you be 100% transparent? Hint: the answer better be yes.
  5. What are you going to do to earn the trust of the celiac community again?
  6. This great question came from Maya Tomasello on Facebook: How is it that these 2 variants are contaminated and contain gluten, when their other varieties are ‘safe’? Are they produced on a separate line? How is this line still in production when gluten was/is present?

Any other questions you’d like answered? Leave them below.

And a final message to Flower Foods & Canyon Bakehouse. The celiac community is a tight-knit and loyal bunch. Take care of us and we’ll love you forever. Screw with us and the gloves are off.

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32 thoughts on “The Canyon Bakehouse recall. What happened & what’s next?”

  1. How do they audit their ingredients and products coming into the production facility? How are those monitored for being gluten-free?

    1. If you read their communications, it says that they test their baked goods only after they have been made. This doesn’t make sense for two reasons. One, if the product fails, looking for the root cause is almost like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And two, if that product fails, they are throwing out not just that one bad ingredient, but all of the other ingredients in the batch, plus the labor used to make it, the packaging materials, etc and they don’t have anything to send out to their customers! That’s really big dollars!

      The prudent thing to do would be to test the ingredients when they arrive at their warehouse and they are just sitting there not being used. If they find a bad batch they can replace it and not delay production. I asked myself, why aren’t they doing this? The only reason I could think of is that some of their ingredients regularly contain trace amounts of gluten, but because so little of that ingredient gets used in a batch the finished product can still test at 10ppm (or is up to 20ppm acceptable internally?) In their recall notice, did they state how much gluten they found in those two products?

      As someone else mentioned, the manufacturer of an ingredient for the gluten free trade will provide a testing report along with the order. This works for the smaller manufacturer. At the volumes that Canyon Bakehouse is producing they probably use higher volume manufacturers or brokers and aren’t getting these reports.

      1. You’re a smart person Vic. I was going to say you’re smarter than me, but I set quite a low bar. I am going to keep on top of this situation.

  2. As someone brought up to me, there Has to be a very specific audit of the vendor who is supplying them their flours since CB is not growing, processing and sorting their own grains, some mistakes can happen. You do wonder what happened that the supplier realized they had messed up in their processing

    1. Also, the odds are that the supplier also sold that same product to other gf manufacturers.
      My guess is that a flour was tainted during the milling process on equipment that hadn’t been cleaned properly.

  3. Since I work in the food industry, I may have a few answers – While the facility may be GF, they have to rely on the their suppliers to make sure that all ingredients coming into the facility are GF. One or more of the ingredients may have come from a supplier that shipped the incorrect ingredient or labeled ingredients incorrectly. There may have been ingredients supplied that were cross contaminated before they reached Canyon Bakehouse.

    With a facility that is dedicated, they probably don’t test every batch coming off the line – if any of them – and rely on the integrity of their suppliers. If one of the suppliers tested or realized the “ooops” some other way, then they would notify Canyon. Canyon would then test their product.

    Many people already complain about the cost of GF food – to check everything all the time is costly in time and money which would be passed on to the consumer. The balance is a difficult one.

    1. I agree, Leslie. My partner works in pharmaceutical shipping/receiving & auditing. They rely on their suppliers to ship correct raw materials. Being a pharmaceutical company however, they do test most items prior to production (but not all.) They also have the luxury of being able to hold the product and test before release. But bread has a such short shelf life…
      My partner suspects that something came in mislabeled (or contaminated) from a supplier. I HOPE that CB will be open with the cause and the steps taken to mitigate the current issue, as well as future production. Otherwise it will be difficult to regain our trust.
      I’m also concerned about the cross contamination with other products, given that they may rely on their own status as a gf production facility. Including things such as the ventilation system. (I worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing as well)

  4. I have same issue of not getting sick for 2 days. It sucks to not be able figure out what made us suck. Thanks for being an advocate!

  5. I think you have covered it all. My question is the same, how and where? There are many ways including an employee eating a sandwich in the break room. What are the rules for employees, how are they enforced? I have celiac, I have worked in a dedicated Gf bakery and have been managed by a mother of someone with celiac, but the rest of the staff was not Gf. So many questions.

    1. Also I agree with the other commenter, we had to wash or wipe everything that came in to the bakery. I did it, but did everyone else?

  6. Thank you for posting this. I am deeply disappointed as Canyon Bakehouse has been my go-to bread for years. I also want to know how this happened and what will they be doing to stop this in the future. Right now, I’m battling with Snyder’s Pretzels. I ate a handful or two of their gluten free pretzels the end of August and am just now getting rid of the symptoms. That particular company doesn’t care and is not responsive. At least Canyon Bakehouse took responsibility. I know I ate gluten pretzels, I was much more than just cross-contaminated and I am completely angry that I trusted their gluten free pretzels and ended up very ill for months. We celiacs rely on the GF certification logo and a large company making a safe product but we never know now.

  7. Ask about products they produce under other labels. The Trader Joe’s GF everything bagels are Canyon Bakehouse. I know because I cracked some teeth on one that had overly hard seeds and in my dealings with them, was passed to their insurance company which told me they are Canyon Bakehouse products under the Trader Joe’s label. Worth asking, especially if this is voluntary and Trader Joe’s might not be aware.

  8. The scariest part is that they don’t know how the contamination occurred. If they do not know how it occurred, how can they prevent it from happening in the future?

  9. I work in a dedicated gluten free facility, so perhaps I can shed some light on how this could happen.

    Every GFCO certified product must be submitted for approval. That approval includes the label as well as the ingredients used in the product.

    For ingredients, GFCO assigns different risk levels to different ingredients. Risk level 1 is the lowest level and does not require testing. These ingredients typically do not contain protein. Level 2 ingredients must be tested the first time of purchase or if a supplier changes sources for an ingredient. For level 3 ingredients, one container per shipment must be tested. For level 4 ingredients, each container from a shipment must be tested.

    On top of ingredient risk analysis and testing, GFCO also requires finished product testing. Annual audit reports provide plants with a baseline level of finished product testing. Plants that have a documented history of testing with zero positive results have the option of decreasing finished product testing levels according to a schedule assigned by GFCO.

    The highest level requires product testing from each lot in the beginning, middle and end of the process for a product. After 6 months or 20 production runs with zero positive results, testing may be reduced to one sample per production lot. After 1 year or 40 runs of zero positives, this may be reduced to one product test per day of manufacturing. After 18 months or 60 runs, testing can be reduced to once per week. After 2 years or 80 runs, testing can be reduced to once per month. After 30 months or 100 consecutive runs with no positives, this can be reduced to once per quarter. Any time there is a positive, the plant must return to the previous assigned level and begin the schedule again.

    Remember that this is a baseline. Some facilities elect to test each lot or batch regardless, but I’m sure many have reached a level of only one product test per quarter, which is the minimum level required. Many facilities have multiple products, so it’s likely at the largest of companies not every product is tested with regularity.

    I hope this provides some insight as to where contamination could enter a production process in a dedicated facility and how it could make it into the market.

  10. whew. I had stopped eating CB multigrain bread as I thought it might be that particular bread causing me sickness. I’ve narrowed down my ability to eat anything that isn’t made at home and it’s a pain. I am now down to Glutino’s english muffins. And once again, I thank you GD because I never saw the re-call. Maybe I really go bread free finally. So very disappointed and it probably isn’t really CB , mistakes happen when humans are involved. But this is such a serious mistake. I am so disappointed and sad. Again, Thanks Dude for being there for all of us. Hilary

  11. Last loaves of this bread have been with a big hole on It and smaller, nothing like the old bread. Something is going on at that facility, besides that they are changing the formula using more xantham gum. Looks like different employees using a different formula in a different facility with different standards and a different boss with a completely different mentality.

    1. I’m glad Maria mentioned the holes in the bread! I thought I was alone. I am (was?) a fan of CB – both for myself and my husband (he is not Celiac but we keep a GF kitchen for my sake). Their bread has a good taste, texture, and size – great for sandwiches. A few months ago (you know, when it was challenging to find almost anything GF on the supermarket shelves due to pandemic supplychain issues) I purchased 3 or 4 loaves of CB mountain white. 3 of the 4 loaves had MASSIVE holes in them. I contacted the company. Very little help. Call this #. Go there. Send this. Blah, blah, blah. I posted a photo as a “warning” to fellow Celiac folks on a local Facebook GF group page and was shamed for doing so because CB has been so many people’s “safe” go-to. Maybe my complaint should have been taken more seriously with respect to QA/QC concerns… Maybe?

  12. I am a huge fan of CB products, but this scares me. It’s almost like getting a prescription, it’s like a crap shoot cause pharmacists just can’t tell you for sure. I hope that the company truly investigates this in earnest. I have been noticing also, what appears to be a bit of a decline in GF products coming out and I have a feeling that since the GF “fad” seems to waning a bit that they (producers) may be getting a bit gunshy about putting out new products.
    Maria, I also got a loaf of CB Country White and there was a gargantuan tunnel thru half the loaf. Other times smaller holes too but nothing like this last loaf!!!
    Thanks Dude!!

  13. Yes, the holes in the bread! Mine had quarter-sized holes in most of the slices. I thought I just had a bad batch. I hope they fix up their QA/QC because they were my go-to bread for a while. I might hold of on purchasing them for a while. I’ve been having health issues recently and can’t find the cause.

  14. Thankfully I’ve been buying (another brand… decided not to boost for any brand, looks scammy) for a while now. My husband likes it better. Our kitchen is all GF so we tend to agree on foods we both like. I prefer Canyon though. For store bought. I like homemade a thousand times more.

    I hope they’re going to be transparent about what happened. I didn’t like who they were sold to. Although I did like Flower and its junk foods when I was a kid, it’s not a company I trust with a GF label. That may not be what they want to hear, but they have to prove to me that they’re legit about this. Here’s a perfect opportunity for them to do so.

    Or they can close the doors and turn all corporate on us and then I’ll be like mmm-hmmm.

  15. I thought I should mention, anyone remember what happened with Maseca? https://themazatlanpost.com/2018/10/17/glyphosate-and-gmos-found-in-samples-of-corn-flour-from-maseca/ I am finely attuned to GMO issues so it stuck in my mind. I can’t emphasize enough that people should test assumptions about their food with lab tests. It’s sick that this is the sort of world we live in but that’s the way it is. I look forward to transparency from Canyon Bakehouse. I will not be sold a rosy colored illusion.

  16. I was so sad when I read about the CB recall. I have 3/5 in my house with Celiac and CB is a lovely bread. However, at $9 a loaf for the small ones and $11.50 for the Heritage loaves, it might be a good time to just permanently part ways with bread. The mark up on these things is just absurd, especially in Hawaii. Thanks for the article. I am glad I wasn’t the only one who freaked out!

  17. I know we’re running into the Holiday season now, but it seems like this is a long period of silence from CB/Flower. Surely by now they have suspicions and they haven’t shut down operations all this time, looking for the cause? That would be disastrous for the company.

  18. Yeah, I’m not surprised. I’ve started to distrust anything commercially made and make all of my food from scratch. This is honestly one major reason why my blood work has become optimal in the last year. Celiacs in particular need to stop eating out and buying anything commercially made, as the pandemic will no doubt make quality testing more “flexible.” This is just one example.

  19. Wow, they never intend to tell us what happened, do they? I mean for them it’s just another work day, but for me, I keep going to the store and avoiding it and thinking, I still don’t know what happened.

    1. To clarify, I saw what they said, they said it was “a supplier” and they said some vague things about watching their suppliers better. But that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to know that they were testing their supplies when they got them. And maybe some things about that they’d cleaned up the machines they were using? I’m just detail oriented that way. I’m sure this is history, but I didn’t get the story.

  20. glad I found this site. Pulled a loaf of bread out of my freezer last week. Trusted the Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Mountain White Bread. For some reason I’ve been feeling really crappy this week but couldn’t think of anything that I was doing differently. I googled the bread and found out about the recall. Knew nothing about it before. The UPC matches and there is no lot number on the package. Explains a lot. And I’m not too happy.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

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.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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