I wrote to Innocent, makers of smoothies and their meal in a tub 'Veg Pots'.
I wanted to know why they didn't state 'gluten-free' on the Veg Pots that had no gluten-bearing ingredients, and why they didn't substitute gluten-free ingredients like Tamari for their Soy Sauce. As any one that knows anyone with coeliac disease or severe gluten intolerance will know, it is very difficult to eat safely when out of your own house, and these veg pots would be awelcome addition.
I got a reply just three days later, which I have posted in full. They have had other queries about gluten but haven't posted the info in their FAQs,
Their basic answer is that their veg pots are made in a factory which also handles products with gluten in so they cannot say gluten free. I haven't tested any of their food, so might do that sometime. Of course, this raises the question as to whether the smoothies are also made in a factory that handles gluten and should be avoided in the same way. I'll write and ask.
As you can see, it continues the conversation about malt vinegar that I posted about with reference to the Stokes Caesar Salad dressing. I know the Coeliac society say it is OK, but it is really hard not to react to the word barley the same way a normal consumer might react to the words 'rat-poison' or 'arsenic'. It is hard enough keeping safe with the myriad of words people present gluten under without actively ignoring one that is easy to understand and writ large!
Thanks so much for your email; it is great to hear from you.
Thanks for all your advice about making our veg pots all gluten free. I will pass it onto our veg pot team and I know they will be delighted with it.
Unfortunately we can't state that any of our veg pots are gluten free as they are made in a factory where gluten is handled and, despite the strict cleaning and handling procedures in place, there is a potential risk of cross contamination.
Other consumers have also asked us about the malt vinegar in our Indian Vegetable Masala. Malt vinegar is made from barley, and as such could contain gluten. However, the amount of gluten in the vinegar is less than 10ppm (parts per million), which is further diluted when used as an ingredient in the sauce. As a result there will be no detectable gluten in this product from the ingredients. Unfortunately we still can't claim it as gluten-free due to the reason above.
As you say, so many people are unable to eat gluten and I am sure that the veg pot team are looking into finding a solution to this, with our veg pots. Keep an eye out on our website for any updates.
All the best and thanks for getting in touch,