Company designed program to meet customer demand, but notes potential for cross-contamination.
Wegmans, a 79-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts, has introduced “No Gluten Ingredients” signs in the Fresh Food Bar, Vegetarian Bar, and $6 Meals Station. In addition, a sign in Wegmans’ Deli notes that all cold cuts and cheeses sold in that department have no gluten ingredients. They’ve been prepared without any additives that could contain gluten.
The new signs are designed for customers who are concerned about gluten. However, Wegmans Nutritionist Trish Kazacos, RD, who helped develop the program, noted that there is a difference between “no gluten ingredients” and “gluten-free.”
“We’ve analyzed the recipes and ingredient lists carefully, but we’re being honest about a risk of cross-contact in a supermarket setting,”Kazacos said. “Suppose the Pizza area is next to the Deli. It’s conceivable that some airborne particles of flour might settle on a slicer used for cold cuts. Or, in self-serve areas like the Fresh Food Bar, a bit of food that doesn’t belong could accidentally fall into or touch one of the ‘No Gluten Ingredients’ dishes. Customers we’ve talked with understand the difference between ‘Gluten Free’ and ‘No Gluten Ingredients,’ and have encouraged us to go ahead with this new option.”
According to a press release from Wegmans, the new prepared foods program complements other steps the company has previously taken to help customers looking to avoid gluten, including placing the Gluten Free Wellness Key on select Wegmans-brand products that meet its strict criteria. The G Wellness Key indicates that Wegmans has verified with the supplier that the product contains no gluten and that the manufacturing environment is carefully controlled to avoid cross contact with gluten.
Before introducing the new signs for prepared foods, Wegmans educated its people about what gluten is, why some customers need to avoid it, and the importance of making no substitutions or changes in recipes that might introduce gluten into the final product, the press release stated.