Jelly Belly: Made on shared lines, but packages not labeled!

Yesterday while at work, I went looking for something extra to eat with my lunch. I discovered several Jelly Belly products were listed “gluten free”. In looking over the ingredients, I couldn’t find anything that looked dangerous, so I bought a few items:

  • Sunkist Fruit Gems: A Fat Free, Gluten Free Food
  • JB Fruit Snacks (Made with 7 Real Fruit Juices): Naturally Gluten Free
  • (NEW!) Jelly Bean Chocolate Dips (Very Cherry): A Gluten Free Food

The Sunkist package is the only one that carried an additional allergen warning. “Manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts.” Given that, I figured they were safe. Clearly, they were labeling for other allergens.

Well, they’re not.

This morning I woke up feeling very lethargic/groggy and my stomach hurt (both of these went on for hours. The stomach pains have eased off –  for now – but the extreme lethargy continues, even after coffee).


Last night, before these “fun” feelings hit, I pursued their website to find out if anything else was gluten free. The only statement on their site refers to the JB beans (no other JB candy):

All flavors of Jelly Belly beans are free of gluten. We do not use any wheat, rye, barley, or oats in the basic recipe for Jelly Belly jelly beans. The modified food starch listed on the package is cornstarch.

So, I dropped them an e-mail to find out if other things (namely the Chocolate Mints and Mint Cremes) were safe, but then added in: Do any of your products have gluten?
Reply 1:

Almost all items we manufacture are Gluten free. The only items that contain gluten are the items that contain real licorice pieces or our malt balls. Please see the attached document for the items we make the contain gluten.

Thank you for writing.

Sweet Regards,
Erin
Consumer Affairs Representative

My response:

Erin,

Thank you very much for your reply and for the attachment. One more question? Are the gluten-containing items made on their own lines, or is it shared equipment?

Thank you.


Reply 2:

Yes, the candy is produced on the same line as our other products at one point or another in the process. While we do clean and chemically wash all machinery between products, we cannot 100% guarantee that cross contamination would not not occur, although it is unlikely. We make over 100 different types of confections and only those listed contain gluten.

Hope this helps.

Have a nice day.

Sweet Regards,
Erin
Consumer Affairs Representative

My  response:

Erin,

Thank you for your reply. I just threw away the Jelly Belly products I bought yesterday, and definitely won’t be buying it again. Now I know why my stomach hurt so much this morning and why I’ve been feeling so lethargic.  Labeling products gluten free but NOT telling consumers (unless they ask) that you used SHARED lines is a dangerous move on JB’s part.

I’ll also be sharing this on my gluten free blog. Even if you clean the lines, it is just too risky for those of us who are very, very sensitive (which is a LOT of people with Celiac Disease).

Considering how many things you make, and how many places JB products are sold, would JB ever consider opening up new, dedicated gluten free facilities and getting certified by GFCO? (http://www.gfco.org/) (It would HAVE to be new facilities — washing the old ones and moving the small batch of gluten-containing products somewhere else would NOT cut it.)

Sincerely.

Reply 3: 
As of this posting, I have not yet received a response from anyone at Jelly Belly. If I do, I will post a follow-up entry.




Here are the Jelly Belly products which specifically contain gluten:

Item#               Item Description                                             Gluten Source
6030                Chocolate Malt Balls                                      Wheat and Barley
6032                Christmas Chocolate Malt Balls                     Wheat and Barley
1415                Christmas Deluxe Mix                                    Wheat and Barley
64909              Classic Candies Gift Box                               Wheat
64913              Classic Licorice Box                                       Wheat
1715                Deluxe Easter Mix                                          Wheat and Barley
1295                Deluxe Halloween Mix                                   Barley
88857              Hodgepodge                                                   Wheat and Barley
1075                Licorice Bridge Mix                                        Wheat
3015                Licorice Pastels                                               Wheat
4750                Speckled Chocolate Malted Eggs                   Wheat and Barley