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False 'allergen free' labelling on Frito Lay products

Updated on March 27, 2011
Frito Lay - Not fun!
Frito Lay - Not fun! | Source

About Frito Lay

Frito Lay is a mainstream snack food company based in North America. They sell a large variety of products including potato chips, corn chips, grain chips, and more. Their comprehensive product range consists of products described on the Frito Lay website as being free of gluten and particular allergens. These include products not containing porcine enzymes, additives, lactose/milk, MSG, and soy along with a whole lot more. This is great for individuals like myself with a gluten intolerance and fructose malabsorption problem as they even list products that are free of onion in the U.S. product range. They also have lists of products that are Kosher certified plus a whole lot more.

Fear of False Advertising

Curiously I browsed their pages to see what products are onion free as well as gluten free and I was surprised to find such a large range of products that could potentially be suitable for my diet. I even checked the ingredient lists on their product description pages to confirm this to be the case. And yes, there certainly is a great range of snack foods designed for many individuals following certain diets over in the U.S. and Canada. Far more than in Australia (just goes to prove how lazy our Smith's Snackfood Company is here in Australia!!)

It was interesting to note the lists they had of products 'not containing' certain allergens. However, I grew very wary that some marketing ploy may be occurring here. I carefully observed the pages for disclaimers and found a statement on their 'gluten free' product page that made my heart sink.

Some people suffer from an intolerance to foods containing gluten, which is a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Neither wheat, rye, barley or oat ingredients are found in the Frito-Lay Products listed below (we include oats in this list as a precaution as oats are often commingled with gluten-containing grains). Please note however, that other than our LAY'S® STAX® Crisps, which are made on gluten-free lines, some of the products listed below may be manufactured on the same lines as products that contain gluten. Although our lines are washed between batches, it is possible for a slight residue to remain on the lines. In addition, the ingredients in these products may have come into contact with gluten-containing products prior to manufacturing. Individuals who are sensitive to gluten should take these factors into consideration in consuming these products.

I found similar disclaimers with regard to other allergens as well including milk, soy, egg and more! They claim their products to be free from allergens on their snacks and product description pages, yet they cannot fully guarantee their products to be free of these allergens.

It's so sad to see such businesses and companies undermining the severity of coeliac disease and common food allergies and intolerances; so much to the extent that they decide to exploit their niche markets to the general public for the sake of profit.

Now, had I been in the U.S. or Canada, and just picked up one of these products and read the ingredients I would assume many of these products are indeed safe for my diet. No warnings about products being manufactured on the same lines are portrayed here at all and I think it absolutely stinks that companies like this simply see us as a chunk out of the market to satisfy. I could have, quite potentially, made myself VERY sick from these products.

It takes 3 weeks for a typical coeliac disease affected individual's gut to heal. 3 WEEKS!!! And for WHAT?! All because of a product that SHOULD have been gluten free was contaminated from gluten!

My solution is simple. At least get rid of those "... free" terms and replace them with "no additional ..." because in some parts of the world, even though this may not be the case in the U.S. or Canada, this form of product labelling (or lack of it!) is prohibited and illegal. Australia is particularly strict about this and this sort of marketing would NOT be acceptable.

Leave your views here and bring more knowledge to this hub, as I am not fully familiar about the background in this, having come from Oz, but think it is very misleading advertising to promote products as such on their website yet attach a disclaimer as such!

Discussion (Leave your Views HERE):

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      cassie 4 years ago

      You are talking about the item list that "does not contain gluten ingredients"...they have a different list for items that are tested for gluten that are considered "gluten free" (under 20 ppm).

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth. That's awful to hear. You're right, however. I fully agree that Manufacturers need to be stopped if their labels are misleading to consumers. I might add I never did get a response to the email sent to them *months* ago... (*sigh*). All the best.

    • profile image

      Elizabeth Goldenberg, President 6 years ago

      Hi, I just found your post while searching Frito-Lay and allergen policies. Here's what I found with them when it comes to peanut allergen issues. It's not good news:

    • profile image

      Angie 7 years ago

      I work for Frito-Lay and at the plant I work at we don't make snacks with these ingredients (wheat, rye, barley or oat ingredients) however I can't say that the corn (white or yellow)or patots where not in the same rail car or truck as wheat, rye, or oats. Then you have to think of the oils we use to fry these snacks. The diclamer is for this reason not false labelling. I am sorry for you condition but you can't blame others for tring? Frito-Lay trys and I think thats great its better than doing nothing. This is a great company to work for and my family and i love the chips. Im in sanitation and can say we do everything we can to make shure our production and packing are clean we dubble and tripple check but we are human and humans are not perfect, but we do our best.

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      Beth 7 years ago

      You are right! It should be clear that Gluten free is gluten free, If the raw product is purchased from a vendor,

      then FL should find out the process.....did it come in contact in a mill with wheat, barley or grown in a field where wheat was the year before. Gluten kills...even the smallest about for some people. I think that there is a difference between GF and Certified GF here in the US. Our country is built on wheat, so it will be a cold day in hell before FDS does what is needed to stop our country from cancer that is killing Celiacs and the undiagnosed,

    • infonolan profile image

      infonolan 7 years ago from Australia

      Over here where I live if a product is labelled 'gluten free', it must be gluten free. There are no ifs or buts should come of it. If Frito Lay can't fully guarantee the 'gluten free' status of their chips, they should NOT be making a gluten free claim on their website and an advisory statement should be present on the packaging.

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      Cassie Cary 7 years ago

      Well DUH. It's a disclamier. no company can fully guarantee a gluten free product unless it's a dedicated facility. I mean, We all know Coffee is hot right...but why does Mcdonald's have a disclaimer on the cup it might burn you? Because dorks SUE companies who dont cover their asses. The disclaimer is merely a legal obligation. It does NOT mean the product contains gluten, For EFFIN sake.