I wanted to make a Gluten Free Sloppy Joe casserole. The recipe called for Manwich. Manwich is not labeled gluten free but scanning the ingredients there is nothing that set of alarm bells. So, of course, the questioning and internet searching began.
Manwich is manufactured by ConAgra Foods. According to ConAgra’s website, they will label all major food allergens in compliance with the he Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. Great. Next, they say that “Foods that have been validated as gluten-free will contain a ‘gluten-free’ statement on the label. Other products may not contain gluten but have not yet been verified as gluten-free; these products will not contain a ‘gluten-free’ statement.” Good. They seem conscientious about their gluten free label.
ConAgra also says they test every product that carries a gluten free label to ensure it tests below 20ppm. Wow, now I can be certain with ConAgra that their foods are gluten free if labeled gluten free.
Now, further investigation into specifically Manwich, comes up with more information. Manwich carries a “Smart Label”, which means, you can specifically look up nutritional information for that product. Looking at the allergen tab in the Smart Label says the item contains no gluten containing ingredients.
The $1 Billion question – Is Manwich safe for celiac patients? Where is the line? Why didn’t they label it? What would your celiac doctor say? What would your nutritionist say? Why the cat and mouse game? Do they not sell enough Manwich to justify the expense of testing it? Why if it has no gluten containing ingredients is it not tested?
What you may consider safe, someone else inevitably won’t. This is why gluten free eating is so challenging. Yes, I could make my own Manwich substitute with certified gluten free ingredients. But at some point, it shouldn’t be this hard to determine if a food is safe or not.
So, please, if you can, participate in clinical trials so we can get this stupid disease under control and not have to jump through all of these hoops just to get a safe meal.