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For people with celiac disease, wheat is a no-no. For everyone, pretending that products are gluten-free should be a no-no. (iStockphoto)

OMG! It's Not Gluten-Free!?

by Priska Neely
Apr 13, 2011

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Priska Neely

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This story may not be that significant to some people, but as a person who suffers from celiac disease, (a digestive disorder that prevents me from being able to process wheat, oats, barley, etc) it is heartbreaking.

This week, the Charlotte News & Observer reported that a North Carolina man was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he sold what he claimed was gluten-free bread. Turns out, the bread wasn't sans gluten and it ended up making more than two dozen people sick.

Prosecutors said that Paul Seelig, owner of Great Specialty Products, claimed he owned a dedicated gluten-free facility and was testing his products weekly to make sure they were safe. But according to prosecutors, the bread tested positive for gluten.

In his opening arguments, assistant district attorney Shawn Evans said that the case "is about is misrepresentations built on top of misrepresentations."

And there seem to be even more lies. A former employee testified that instead of getting the ingredients for his bread from his 400-acre farm, Seelig actually bought bread from commercial retailers, repackaged it, and sold it online and at street fairs.

Seelig's attorney claims that Seelig's bread supplier lied to him.

This is particularly disheartening, because not only did these people experience physical discomfort, but they'll probably have a hard time trusting products in the future. When you have a dietary restriction and you're out and about at a street fair looking at the sandwiches, cupcakes and tasty treats that you can't eat, and you see gluten-free products for sale, it's so exciting! But when something like this happens, it literally makes you sick.

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