“What about chocolate chips?”
Recently, I received this question at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Ask-the-Nourish-Chef.
Learning how to read a label for gluten containing ingredients is one of the first survival skills people with gluten intolerance need to master. Look for the obvious-wheat, rye, barely, and most oats. Then the less obvious.
Think about the manufacturing process. Cross contamination during manufacture is an important consideration.
I went to my cupboard to look at the label on 60% cacao bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips. It looked good. No gluten there.
Ingredients: Unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin.
Manufactured on the same equipment that also makes products containing milk.
Made in a facility the uses peanuts and tree nuts.
Because I was responding to a consumer question, I wanted to be sure about all their kinds of chocolate chips. The website did not provide any ingredient or allergen information. No FAQ page either. So I called the company. In this instance, I had to leave a message. I encourage all of you to regularly call manufacturers. Do not be shy. Ask them if their product is gluten free and how they manufacture their products. And please, put this information on their websites. Sometimes you want to check something at 10pm on a Thursday night. Especially when it comes to chocolate.
A company representative called me back the same day and told me over the phone the following information. It was a lot to take in. So I asked that she email me the specifics and she helpfully provided the following information.
Thank you for contacting Ghirardelli Chocolate. In June 2008, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company started production of a new milk chocolate bar, Luxe Milk Crisp, which has a product containing barley malt as an ingredient.
As a result, the line on which our chocolate bars and squares are produced, will now share a common line with barley gluten.
The chocolate chips (60% Bittersweet, Semi-Sweet, Milk Chocolate, 58% Gourmet, 72% Gourmet, and 100% Gourmet) line and powder line (hot chocolates and baking cocoas) will remain free of gluten ingredients.
As mentioned on the phone, our Classic White chips are produced in a separate facility which is not gluten-free.
Ghirardelli takes the following measures to reduce cross contamination on our production lines: lines are cleaned between the changing from one product to the next and the first two batches of any product made are disposed of and not packaged.
It is interesting to me to see how companies handle potential cross contamination. Having dedicated gluten free facilities is the safest. But I feel comfortable when I speak with knowledgeable staff and know company policies. In this case, I especially like knowing that the first two batches are disposed of.
Please excuse me now. I need to put a handful of those gluten free dark chocolate chips directing into my mouth and let them melt slowly. Mmmm.