Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rumor Mill: Gluten Free Status of Kinnikinnick Products

The internet is a wonderful thing. It's also has some pretty serious flaws. It is the worlds largest rumor mill and there can be a lot of misinformation out there. As a company, it's difficult to manage inaccuracies that are floating around, if you even find out about them in the first place. We do monitor the major lists and some of the more popular blogs but keeping track of every one would be a full time job.

(everything we make is gluten free)

We've recently run into a rumor that our new donuts are not gluten free. This appears to have originated from a few misinformed store managers. The confusion has arisen because some of our distributors and stores have decided to drop our Chocolate Dipped and Maple Glazed Donuts.

(everything we make is gluten free)

The reason is fairly straightforward. Some of these companies have rules about artificial ingredients and the Icing we use for these 2 products contains artifical flavors and colors. It has absolutely nothing to do with their gluten free status.

(everything we make is gluten free)

Some store managers have wrongly assumed that the products are no longer gluten free because the distributor is no longer carrying these 2 products when this is simply not the case.

(everything we make is gluten free)

The frustrating thing about this whole issue is that we have built our company and reputation on being gluten free and this not only calls into question the status of our donuts, but everything we do. We've always known that it is impossible to co-produce gluten free and gluten containing products in the same facility. This is why we have always been a dedicated gluten free manufacturer. Every product we make, we make ourselves in our two dedicated facilities. Unlike some manufacturers claiming to be GF, there is no contracting out to the lowest bidder, there is no risk of ingredients being cross contaminated. It's also important that we are a Canadian manufacturer and as such, are required to follow some of the strictest regulations for gluten free products in the world. If a product is labeled gluten free in Canada, it must not contain more than 20ppm of gluten and any product with amount higher than that is subject to recall. The FDA's proposed regulations were modelled in large part on the Canadian model. However this alone is not enough for us. Remember that 2 of the 3 owners of Kinnikinnick are celiac.

(everything we make is gluten free)

To our knowledge, we are the only manufacturer that has it's own gluten testing lab on site. Many manufacturers rely on the ELISA quick tests, which have a threshold of detection of 50ppm for wheat only. Our lab uses the R5 Monoclonal Antibody test which has a limit of detectability down to less than 5ppm. This is the same test that the University of Nebraska and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses. The R5 test also detects barley and rye proalamines (the harmful proteins). We test all of our ingredients with this test so we know for a fact that our products are gluten free from even before they are produced.

(everything we make is gluten free)

Now you know that our products always have been and still are gluten free. But you may asking yourself, why the artificial stuff in the icing. Simply put, removing artificial ingredients from our products is secondary to providing our customers with safe, gluten free products that are also tasty. We'll do it when we can, but in the case of the donut icing, there just isn't an icing that doesn't contain artificial ingredients and:
  1. Is gluten, dairy and soy free
  2. Is freezer stable
  3. Is available to us in sufficient quantities
We are trying to convince our icing manufacturer to make a custom formula for use without the artificial ingredients but this is a longer term process. Until then we'll continue to use the existing and while some health food stores will not stock it, we have many new major accounts with mass market retailers (ie: your local grocery store) that don't have similar issues with ingredients. As these stores see the demand for the Chocolate and Maple Donuts, the problem with availability will be eased.

(everything we make is gluten free)

It's also important to note that this issue with artificial ingredients does not apply to our Cinnamoin Sugar or Vanilla Glazed Donuts and your local health food store can still get them from our distributors.

footnote: Maybe the silliest aspect of this whole issue is that we've always had artificial flavors listed as part of the icing. In fact there has been no change to the icing with our new formulation. The previous label list only "color" which was initially what was provided to us by our ingredient manufacturer. Some time ago, they changed their statement and with the new packaging, we have updated our ingredient listing as well. I guess that one was OK but having 2 artificials showing on the label was one too many??

BTW... Did I mention everything we make is gluten free


EstherParisDTM said...

Thank you so much for busting that nasty rumor. I was quaking in my shoes when I heard it. My family and I love your donuts. Thank you so much for such delicious foods. Keep up the great work, folks.

runmum said...

I love Kinnikinnick foods and love being able to walk in a store, pull something with the Kinnininnick name from the shelf or freezer, and not have to examine the label! All I have to do is think of how delicious it will taste and how grateful I am for companies like yours. I knew right away this was a rumour.

Donna in Nova Scotia

Emily said...

I hadn't heard this rumour yet, but it might explain why my local Fortinos only carries the cinnamon variety. I've asked them to order the chocolate glazed, but no dice yet.

For what it's worth, I have loved every one of your products that I've tried thus far, and recommend them in online celiac groups on LiveJournal and Facebook all the time. Had I heard that rumour, I would have been quick to debunk it, since I know you folks are very reliable and conscientious about keeping your products gluten-free. Keep up the fantastic work! Thanks for the donuts!

Jane said...

Jane said: I like your english muffins and hamburger buns, but WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE YOU DONE TO THE DONUTS??? I used to buy your maple donuts in the bag, but now that you have changed them to the ones in the box, THEY ARE TERRIBLE! I know you can produce these faster, but for heavens sake, you should have left them the way they were. The texture and size are AWFUL. They are nothing like the other ones. I especially loved the maple ones. PLEASE, PLEASE BRING BACK THE MAPLE DONUTS THE WAY THEY WERE BEFORE. THEY WERE TEN TIMES BETTER THAN THE NEW FORMULA IN THE BOX. IF YOU DO, I WILL DEFINITELY BE BUYING THEM AGAIN. UNTIL THEN, NO WAY! Why is it, when a person finds a good thing, the company changes the formula to something else and it is not even an improvement? I found it to be quite the opposite. SORRY! PLEASE RECONSIDER AND BRING THOSE OTHER MAPLE DONUTS BACK!!!!!!!

Debbie said...

Keep up the good work!!!
We love Kinnikinnick and I have just placed another order.
After reading the comment about the new formula on the donuts, I am curious as to how they taste. So I did order a package and I will get back to you on that....

Otherwise, our favorites are the waffles and mini pizzas. I prepare the mini pizzas with the toppings and then freeze them. That way I am prepared with a GF pizza for my son when he has a party to attend or if he is going to camp.
Also the rice cereal is great for rice crispie squares!
Then the vanilla cookies are great for lunches or just recently I used them for a cheesecake crust. Well, as you can tell.....I am a happy customer and I am glad you are there for me!
blessings.....from Alaska!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree on the prior post about the donuts. Loved the Cinn. and Choc. glazed donuts that came in the bags. The new ones (in the box) are not as good as the previous and are quite a bit smaller!!! Not sure why you would mess with something that already had rave reviews.

Anne said...

Two quick things:
1. Do you use Google Blog alerts? If not, I highly recommend them, and use them for all of my clients--you get a once-daily email with all blog mentions of your keyword. So handy. I would also include misspellings (kinikinik, kinikinnick, etc.) Takes all of the work out of blog monitoring!

2. I just posted about my love of the Kinnikinnick brand on my blog: You really are so amazing.

Thank you for all you do! Now I can't wait to order the doughnuts.

Shirley said...

Hi, Do you have a distributor in Australia?

I run a health food store and i'm looking for gf products for my shelves.

Jodie said...

I have been having some gluten reactions to something I have been eating lately, and coincidentally having the same reaction after eating the gluten free donuts. I want to believe they are absolutely safe to eat (for a Celiac), so I am trying to figure out what is causing my problem....any suggestions? I am wondering if there is an ingredient that might have caused other people trouble (possibly a separate allergy)??

JayB said...

Please have a look at


for a better understanding of what we do to keep our products GF.

One possible ingredient in the donut that may cause some people issues would be inulin. Inulin is made from chicory and is a prebiotic. It promotes the growth of good intestinal flora. Some people "may experience bloating and increased flatulence if their diets are naturally low in Inulin (ie: you don't eat Asparagus, Banana, Chicory, Garlic, Leek, Jerusalem Artichoke and Onions). This may also occur if their intestinal levels of bifidobacteria are low. The gas production is actually a natural result of the growth of these healthy bacteria promoted by the Inulin and subsides once a healthy balance is achieved in the gut. "

You can read more about inulin and why we use it by using the Help Console and selecting iIgredients > Inulin on our website.