Whole Foods' Caramel Recall: The Allergy Risks You Should Know About

It's not easy being someone with a food sensitivity or an allergy, particularly if its for a stealth ingredient like wheat. As Mayo Clinic points out, wheat can be used as an ingredient in many things we wouldn't think about, including soy sauce and ice cream. 

A wheat allergy is not the same as celiac disease, which is triggered by the gluten found in wheat. Like many other types of food allergies, a wheat allergy can trigger physical reactions that include swelling or itching in the mouth and throat, hives, nasal congestion, headaches, difficulty breathing, cramps, and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis — which manifests as a swelling in the throat and severe difficulty breathing, per Mayo Clinic.

So we can understand why Whole Foods has issued an allergy alert for its Dipping Caramel in three states: Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska thanks to the presence of wheat, which wasn't stated on the product label. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the store says an employee spotted the mislabeling and no illnesses were reported. 

Why the recall is important

In its recall notice, the Food and Drug Administration says the product was sold through Whole Foods' bakery department and was packaged in clear plastic containers with white "Whole Foods Market" labels. They were sold as "Dipping Caramel by the pound," had a product code of 34888, and had sell-by dates of between October 13 and November 15. They were sold between October 4 and 25.

The issue can be potentially alarming because as Beyond Celiac points out, caramel is usually made with sugar, water, vanilla, milk, and salt — so while it wouldn't be vegan, it would be gluten-free (and wheat-free), making it a food iteam someone with a wheat allergy or celiac disease could pick up.

The FDA points out that the product wasn't found at all Whole Foods stores in three states — it was only available at five specific stores: Regency Circle in Omaha, Nebraska; Reed Street in Basalt, South Hover Road in Longmont, and Colorado Boulevard in Highland Ranch — all three branches in Colorado; and at 119th street in Olathe, Kansas. Those who purchased the item are being asked to bring a valid receipt back to Whole Foods for a refund, per FDA.