Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Latest gluten-free news from Starbucks

Here is the latest from Starbucks on gluten in Light Frappuccinos:

"Starbucks has removed the gluten ingredient from its Light Frappuccino® Blended Beverages.

As you may know, in the summer of 2010 Starbucks began offering customers the opportunity to customize their favorite Frappuccino ... This new offering caused initial changes to the recipes of the Light Frappuccino beverages and resulted in a gluten-containing ingredient being used in the Light base.

Starbucks has heard feedback from many customers who are living a gluten-free lifestyle and has worked diligently to change the recipe to remove the presence of the gluten ingredient.

The Light Frappuccino beverage ingredient list will no longer state "contains gluten." However, due to other restrictions in declaring a product "gluten-free," Starbucks statement regarding all beverages must remain the same, as follows:

We do not claim that any of our beverages are gluten free because we use shared equipment and handle gluten and allergens throughout the store. Customers that have questions should ask to review the ingredient statements with their barista or can call 1-800-23-LATTE for ingredient information."

While I find Starbucks' position on gluten-free drinks baffling, I see this as good news. The Light Frappuccino was a drink that clearly containing gluten in the form of barley in the base mix and had to be avoided. Now that's not the case.

Whether you drink any beverage at Starbucks is a personal decision. Some gluten-free consumers work out arrangements with their local Starbucks baristas to lessen the exposure to cross contamination and feel safe having coffee and other drinks there.  Before Starbucks started saying that it could not claim any of its drinks were gluten free, the company advised consumers to ask that containers used to mix drinks be washed before a gluten-free order was prepared.

Amy Ratner 


mpv61 said...

The one time I've had a reaction from gluten exposure, I had a regular frappacino and didn't think/know to ask them to use a clean container. Then I came back to my hotel and read my Gluten-Free Living magazine about how there was gluten added into the light ones!

I'm glad at least they've taken it out. Maybe I'll dare to have a frappacino again someday.

Wendy said...

I'm still mad about the GF orange cake they snatched off the shelves a couple years ago.

I'd rather get my coffee drinks from someone who cares :(

Layla said...

I don't know....

I just called to check the GF status of the salted caramel mocha, and before I could specify which drink I was calling about, she loudly proclaimed that every drink they sell is gluten free but that they can't claim gluten free status due to shared I said, all of your ingredients are gluten free? And she said yes. I said, I know your light frappucino syrup USED to contain gluten, does it not any longer? And she said, uhhh maybe...then checked and said yes, our coffee light frappucino syrup does contain gluten, and people still use that so we can't claim gluten free status.

Um, could they be more ambiguous? I guess there's just no Starbucks in my future, until they decide to catch up with the rest of the world on this. :/

Amy said...

I agree that getting conflicting information when you call the consumer line can be maddening. Since the statement on the Light Frappucino came from the corporate office, I would trust it is accurate. It may be that some consumer reps are not up to speed and it may be possible that some Starbucks are still using the old syrup.
I also agree that Starbucks does not make it easy for those who follow the gluten-free diet to decide whether they want to purchase drinks there. Perhaps that will change in the future.

Unknown said...

I don't know why Starbucks can't get it's gluten free act together here in the US. I was recently in the UK and EVERY Starbucks store there had a choice of 2 gluten free goodies PLUS a gluten free sandwich. If they can do it in Europe then why can't they do it here?!

Bex said...

I just called and they told me that the ingredients in the light base specifically contain gluten!!! WTF?!

MamaOnABudget said...

I just got back from Starbucks. I ordered a mocha frapuchino, but said that I needed it made in a clean container for wheat allergies. She asked if they rinsed it really well, was that good enough? Um... no. It's okay, the drink-maker said, I'll use the soy blender for dairy allergies. Um, no, because I'm not ordering a soy-based drink - I'm ordering a dairy drink - that would put dairy in the dairy-free blender and hurt someone who has dairy allergies. So... it has to be sanitized? It has to be washed!

After he made the drink and gave it to me, he asked, "So what part of the cookie frapuchino has wheat in it?" The COOKIE! "But that is just a topping - that doesn't go in the blender."

Well, that would have done you some good to explain before making the drink, no? But he assured me that he washed the blender well first (and I saw him do it).

Laureen said...

I'm so frustrated with starbucks today. I went i wanting a frappacino today and the barrista at the till made me feel like i was being a demanding bitch when i asked if she could tell me if there was gluten in the syrup used to make my drink. She refused to answer only telling me i should check their website (and not kindly). Aren't the ingredients on the container? Almost every other chain restaurant i've been in has an allergen menu i can check to make sure i am safe. No more starbucks for me.