UPDATE (4/7/09): I received the following e-mail from Van's today:
UPDATE (4/6/09): I spoke today with a Van's customer service representative, who advised that the malt extract in the pancakes and french toast sticks is derived from barley but that the gluten is removed during processing. She told me that the ingredients are tested at various intervals during production and that any gluten present in the end product would be less than 20 parts per million (ppm), which would be within the proposed FDA requirement. Given this information, consumption of the Van's products is a matter of one's own comfort level.
Dear Valued Van’s Consumers:
We recently launched two new Wheat Free products — Van’s Wheat Free Cinnamon French Toast Sticks and Van’s Wheat Free Homestyle Pancakes. Like our Wheat Free Waffles, these new products are gluten, dairy and egg free. We have received some inquires regarding the use of malt extract in our new Wheat Free Homestyle Pancakes and Wheat Free Cinnamon French Toast Sticks.
All of Van’s wheat free products comply with the definition of “gluten free” proposed by the FDA which states that to be considered gluten free a product or its ingredients must not contain more than 20 ppm of gluten.
While the malt extract used in these two products is derived from barley, it is tested and meets the gluten free standard as the gluten protein found in the barley is removed during the malt extraction process. The barley is processed though many steps including steeping, germination, drying, grinding, mashing and evaporation. All these stages remove gluten from the barley. In addition, malt extract is used at very low levels in both products. Van’s Wheat Free Cinnamon French Toast Sticks contain less than 1% of malt extract and Van’s Wheat Free Homestyle Pancakes contain less than 2% of malt extract.
As part of our manufacturing process, we test incoming raw materials and our finished wheat free products for gluten to ensure that the raw materials and finished products meet or exceed the proposed gluten free standard.
We understand the concern regarding the use of malt extract in gluten free products want to assure you that these new products meet the same standards as all other Van’s Wheat Free products.
Sincerely, The Team at Van's
UPDATE (4/5/09): Reader Amy pointed out that although both of the Van's products are labeled "gluten free," the ingredient label lists malt extract. (Both products also are listed as "gluten free" on the Van's website.) I will further update this post after I hear back from the company.
Two new "Wafflewich" breakfast sandwiches are among the new gluten-free products recently introduced by Ian's Natural Foods. The company, which was first to market gluten-free french toast sticks and kids' meals, will be rolling out microwaveable sandwiches that stack egg patties with either maple-infused cheddar cheese or maple-flavored sausage on gluten-free waffles. In addition to the breakfast items, Ian's also has created two new gluten-free snack bars that come in apple pie and cinnamon bun flavors, made with brown rice cereal and topped with yogurt.
Meanwhile, Van's Natural Foods has two new breakfast items of its own that are labeled gluten-free. The pancakes and cinnamon french toast sticks are made from whole-grain brown rice flour.
Ian's and Van's products can be found locally at Whole Foods, Wegmans, and many health-food stores. I found both sandwiches as well as the pancakes at Whole Foods in Marlton, New Jersey. If your local store is not yet carrying the new items, ask the manager or owner to order them.