*****Product Update Feb. 2010 This year I found just the opposite of this post (originally posted Feb. 2009). The packages I found this year of Necco Sweethearts Conversation Hearts (both in individual boxes and bags) did not have the allergy information statement they did last year, so they appear to be safe. However, the Wonka SweeTart Conversation Hearts did have this statement on the packages I found this year: “Made in a facility that also processes egg and wheat.” So, I have moved the SweetTart Conversation Hearts to the Unsafe Valentine Candy List.*****
Today I was reminded why it is so important to continue reading labels! After almost four years on the gluten-free diet, I feel like I know what products have gluten and which ones don’t. I’ve read labels, called companies, and checked websites numerous times. As I stated in my post on Jan. 27 I considered Brach’s Conversation Heart candy to be unsafe for Celiacs, but Necco Sweetheart valentine candy to be gluten-free. There is nothing in the ingredient list for Necco’s to indicate it contains gluten and the Necco website states: “We make the following products which do not contain gluten from wheat, rye, oats or barley: Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses, Sweethearts Conversation Hearts (Valentines only), Canada Mint & Wintergreen Lozenges, Haviland Thin Mints and Candy Stix….”
So, I was surprised when I went to buy them for my daughter’s preschool class today and saw the following statement on the back of the bag of Necco Sweethearts Conversation Hearts: “ALLERGY INFORMATION: This product is made in a facility that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, oats, soy and milk.”
We’ve never gotten sick from eating Necco candy, but we aren’t as sensitive to gluten as some Celiacs are. It doesn’t appear that they’ve changed the ingredients, which I still believe to be gluten-free. So, why did they change the labeling? Did they actually change manufacturing plants? Or, is this just a way to avoid possible future lawsuits? Whichever, I’m disappointed. And just to be safe, I won’t be giving them to my kids. This year, they’ll be getting Wonka’s SweetTart Conversation Hearts, which ARE gluten free. Not exactly the same, but still a very tasty candy.