Are Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites Gluten Free?

On January 10, 2017 Starbucks released new Sous Vide Egg Bites at some US locations.  At launch, two versions were available “Egg White and Roasted Pepper” and “Bacon and Gruyere”.

As of this posting, both of these are billed as “wheat free”.

A motto article on these says, in part… “A representative for Starbucks said that the bites were inspired by gluten free customers who would peel the bread off of their sandwiches.”

I live in a relatively small town.  We have two Starbucks locations.  I speak to staff at both regularly and both locations know I have Celiac Disease and must eat and drink completely gluten free.  People at both locations gave me a heads up that these were on the way and told me they were gluten free.  Multiple staff at each location said the same thing.  I’ve also read as much from others on social media.

Are they gluten free?

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Nutritional Information on Starbucks Website. The nutritional information (see link below) for both versions says…

“We cannot guarantee that any of our products are free from allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, wheat and others) as we use shared equipment to store, prepare and serve them.”

There is no indication in online nutrition information to suggest that these are GF.  No gluten free claims.

Inspection of the box these arrive in.  While at my local Starbucks, I asked to look at the box these come in and, again… no gluten free claims.

Starbucks Customer Care.  I emailed Starbucks Customer Care with the question of are Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites gluten free?

First Response: The first response was, in part… “The delicious new sous vide egg bites are wheat free. I hope you are able to try them soon.”

Second Response: I replied back stating that wheat free does not equal gluten free and asked the same question again.  The second response was… a list of ingredients for both versions.  Of course GF status is impossible figure out from the ingredients as “natural flavors” is listed multiple times.  That response also came with the standard “We cannot guarantee…” language.  If these are made with gluten free ingredients… Starbucks certainly isn’t jumping at the chance to tell anyone.

Third Response: After pointing out that it’s impossible to tell if these are gluten free from the ingredients the response I received, in part… “The Sous Vide Egg Bites are not listed as gluten-free. We urge our customers with dietary concerns to proceed with caution as we cannot guarantee that any of our products, including the items that are prepared with gluten, are free from allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, wheat and others) as we use shared equipment to store, prepare and serve them.”

Third time’s the charm, I guess.

Preparation and Cross Contamination.  Beyond ingredients, GF preparation is an issue.  A manager suggested that they would use clean tongs and use fresh paper to warm them on.  As a Celiac, I would not be comfortable with that.  It would still be baked in a chock-full-of-gluten oven.

Conclusion.  This all leads me to the conclusion that Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites are not gluten free.

Starbucks continues to be generally unwelcoming to people that must eat gluten free for medical reasons.  It’s my understanding that official guidance from Starbucks suggests that we eat no site prepared food or drink items from a Starbucks location.  Things like almond milk, caramel syrup and more that could easily be sourced gluten free are not.

Let me be clear, I do not expect Starbucks to have on site dedicated GF facilities at each location.

What I would like to see is Starbucks… 1. Source GF ingredients – milks, syrups, sauces whenever possible – and it’s possible for many things, 2.  Clearly communicate gluten content via nutritional information and 3. Offer a few truly gluten free menu items.  Gluten free sandwiches could arrive in sealed toaster capable bags.  Gluten free pastries could arrived sealed and remain sealed until sold.

I’ve heard and read rumblings of additional gluten free offerings in the works, including certified gluten free sandwich options.  Not sure if there is any truth to those, but I hope they are accurate.

To Starbucks… If you all need to know a little more about gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease, walk out the front of your headquarters and take a right.  A block and a half down you’ll find Ghostfish Brewing Company (See: Hello Seattle… Gluten Free Trip Report).  Have a pint of GF beer and talk with the Brewmaster about the effects of Celiac Disease.  Read your emails and online customer feedback.  Celiac disease and other gluten related health issues are serious and life altering.  You have a huge market presence and could be a market leader in this area.

News Release – New Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites | Nutritional Information – Egg White & Red Pepper – Bacon & Gruyere

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