Genius recall gluten-free items over gluten fear

Gluten free bread from Genius. Pic: phil Wilkinson
Gluten free bread from Genius. Pic: phil Wilkinson
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A range of gluten-free bakery items manufactured by an Edinburgh-based company have been withdrawn from sale - following warnings that they “may contain gluten”.

Genius, which has its head office in Edinburgh’s New Town and is one of the UK market leaders in gluten-free products, said it had recalled three items - its Genius brand crumpets and Livwell crumpets with ‘Best before’ dates of 18 to 25 June as well as its Livwell brand Garlic Naan with a ‘Best before’ date of 9 July to 28 August.

Eating gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, can have serious consequences for people with coeliac disease - an autoimmune reaction to gluten which leads to damage to the lining of the gut. It can also cause unpleasant digestive problems for those with a less serious intolerance.

Even a small amount of contamination with the protein, which is present in a wide range of everyday items such as bread, cakes and biscuits, can cause symptoms in the estimated one in 100 people across the UK who are coeliac sufferers.

In a statement on its website, Genius said: “The products affected contain a very low level of gluten and by industry standards are considered to be of very low risk to gluten-intolerant customers. However, we have responded immediately by implementing a full recall for affected products. No other products are affected including Genius breads and rolls.”

It added: “The contamination was identified through our regular testing procedures and the ingredient has been removed from the production area.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) yesterday issued an alert to anyone who may have bought the products and advised them to return it to where it was bought.

A statement from the FSA said: “Genius Foods has recalled the gluten-free products listed below as they may contain gluten. This means they are a possible health risk for those with an allergy or intolerance to gluten. If you have bought one of these products and have an allergy or intolerance to gluten, do not eat it. Instead, return it to the store where it was bought.”

The FSA also yesterday issued an alert over a further 17 own-brand gluten-free supermarket products from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. The items, ranging from scones to pitta breads, have also been removed from sale due to possible gluten contamination.

It is not known whether the two alerts are linked.

A statement published on the website of charity Coeliac UK alerted sufferers to the possible contamination.

“We will keep you notified on any further recalls and we will be investigating further to understand the extent and nature of the recalls,” it said.

It is believed that only 24 per cent of people in the UK who have the condition have been diagnosed as coeliac.