Gluten free review: Wegmans gives up the gluten

WegmansWell not really but back in May 2012 the nation’s best supermarket chain launched its private label line of gluten free products! Celiacs all across the region issued a collective sigh of relief. I returned to the region in May of this year giddy and elated that my favorite store now had products and goods that I would be able to eat. You see Wegmans is known all across our region and beyond for many things: Its great customer service, one of the nation’s top 100 companies to work for, a huge supporter of farm to table, a commitment to local vendors and farmers, and did I mention superb customer service. But for years offering its own line of gluten free products was not one of those things.

Most locations in my area have carried a generous lineup of the top national gluten free, organic, and natural products for many years now but it always felt like something was missing. Wegmans had yet to embrace the gluten intolerant wholeheartedly with a private label that could compete with the likes of Udi’s, Kind, and Schar. Well, that all changed in 2012 and fast forward to 2013 and the newly renovated East Avenue locations and many others (where I shop frequently) are chock full of Wegmans branded gluten free mixes, cookies, chips, and other delights.

Of course it’s one thing to develop a gluten free line but it’s another issue of whether or not said line is of the quality and consistency of  the top national brands. Are Wegmans gluten free baking mixes and pre-packaged snacks, pastas, and other items any good? Well a recent question I put out to my celiac support group’s online forum answers that quite well. My question “What is your favorite brand of gluten free yellow cake mix? In a matter of minutes my inbox was full of one word responses; “Wegmans!” I wasn’t surprised. For as long as I can remember my family has favored Wegmans brand over national brands when it comes to many products. Wegmans foray into the world of gluten free is no different. I have yet to be disappointed with a product thus far and as a blogger and food writer I have tried many since my return to Rochester. This review is so far all glowing but I would be remiss if I didn’t have a few critiques.

My keen eye as well as the eye of other celiacs have found that when it comes to prepared foods in many Wegmans locations truly gluten free options can be hard to come by. Sometimes the front label will say gluten free but one glance at the list of ingredients on the back and you will see all sorts of sneaky sources of wheat, gluten, barely, malt etc. This holds especially true in products such as sushi, sesame chicken and their roistere chickens. Such carelessness happens with national gluten free products that the store stocks as well.

Unless specified gluten free, soy sauce, sesame, and oats are all sources of gluten and if recipes are changed with soy sauce added that product should not be labeled gluten free. Said product is best to be removed from shelves. Recent changes in labeling from the FDA outlines gluten free labeling.

Additionally, I have found that the hot bar doesn’t consistently contain gluten free options and then there’s the issue of cross contamination. Are the gluten free items prepared in a separate space from those containing gluten? With separate utensils? These issues can seem minor to some but for those of us with high sensitivities such slipups can prove detrimental. I don’t eat meat but what about the sub shop? Is there a gluten free sub roll in the pipeline? Many a Wegmans sub fans are dissapointed that they can’t enjoy a Wegman’s Classic Italian because there is not a gluten free sub roll.

But if there is anything to know about Wegmans it’s that they listen to their customers. They value our feedback. When they make a mistake they own it and they fix it. I have no doubts that these concerns will be addressed and Wegmans will continue to provide excellent products and service to all of their customers including the gluten intolerant!

Rating 4/5

Wegmans keep giving us your best

the gluten free chef