Are Mama Lucia Meatballs still gluten-free? Here are the three email replies I received today from a conversation with a Quaker Maid Consumer Affairs representative, with the most recent reply last.
“Thank you for contacting us regarding the Mama Lucia All Beef Italian Style Meatballs. Your comments are appreciated. The “Gluten-Free” notation has been removed from the new packaging, however, the formulation and ingredients are the same. This all beef meatball is still gluten-free. Please accept my apology for the confusion.”
“I understand that such packaging notation are very important and I’m sorry for any stress this has caused you. The change was made when the package sizes were updated and with the idea that new items may be added to the meatball facility sometime in the future. There has not been any manufacturing change at this point. Because this might mean the facility will no longer be strictly gluten-free, they considered this change very carefully and did not come to this decision lightly. At this time and in the near future you can be assured that all Mama Lucia Meatballs are gluten-free including the All Beef variety. It will be important to watch the BACK of the package where allergens are listed.”
“Yes they are tested. Nothing is changing! Be assured that the meatballs you have are gluten-free, we are still producing all meatballs that are gluten-free.”While I would like to trust the company that the product is still gluten-free, my 12 years of eating gluten-free tells me otherwise. Why would you take gluten-free off the package if your product is still gluten-free now? I can’t help but wonder if there is more they aren’t saying. Is it safe for celiac disease? They are clearly saying that their manufacturing may change in the near future when they introduce gluten products, so even if they are gluten-free now, they likely will not be in the near future due to cross-contamination.
I asked multiple times if gluten-free is being removed from all of their meatball products or only the All Beef ones, but I did not receive a response. None of the photos on their website have gluten-free on any of the packages anymore. Their website FAQ now says, “There are no wheat or gluten ingredients in the products.”
My recommendation is to continue always reading ingredients and start searching for a different brand of gluten-free frozen meatballs. For brands, if you value your gluten-free consumers, don’t remove gluten-free from the package and expect them to keep buying it!