Starbucks milk coffees no longer safe for coeliacs
Two bits of Starbucks gluten-free news this week. Both completely opposite of each other.
The good news:
The chain have introduced a Starbucks gluten-free chicken and pesto panini – a hot sandwich, warmed in its own wrapper to avoid cross-contamination. You can get it most of the coffee shops now for £4.49. Here it is in all it’s glory:
The bad news:
Starbucks have launched oat milk, a sweet vegan alternative, which will be offered alongside other dairy-free alternatives, soy milk and almond milk.
That’s great, right? I’m all up for more vegan and gluten-free convenience food.
Not so fast. In bringing oat milk into the equation, Starbucks have made their hot drinks completely unavailable to people with coeliac disease. The same steam nozzle is used for all Starbucks drinks, so – you guessed it – your go-to latte will now be cross-contaminated with oats. Completely unnecessarily.
Starbucks have confirmed that there may be ‘low levels’ of gluten present. Coeliac UK are now investigating just how low these levels are. The charity have released a statement warning coeliacs to be aware of this risk and has also contacted Starbucks, urging the chain to reconsider its practices concerning cross-contamination.
Starbucks gluten-free: one step forward and two steps back
One per cent of the UK population have coeliac disease. One per cent of Brits are vegan. Yes, many people go vegan for health reasons. It may not necessarily be a choice – but mostly, it is.
Coeliac disease, on the other hand, is a chronic autoimmune condition that is NOT A CHOICE. I’d kill for a ‘cheat day’ I could tuck into an almond croissant but it’s just not worth the early death, TBH. The least companies can do is keep a seemingly simple thing like drinks safe. The effort has gone into releasing a safe Starbucks gluten-free panini – so there’s obviously SOME awareness.
Starbucks oat milk contamination: the solution?
Like many coeliacs, I’m also intolerant to dairy. I find soy and almond is plenty to keep me going with coffees. But after chatting with baristas, I hear oat milk is more effective and results in a better beverage. Fair enough. For a business, it’s about profit.
Now here’s the thing – some oat milk is gluten-free with very low levels of cross-contamination. Rude Health, for example. Oatly, however, is not gluten-free. This is the product I see a lot of coffee shops using. A trace of this on the steamer would be very likely to kick off an autoimmune reaction in a coeliac.
If Starbucks REALLY want to make more money, investing in just one isolated machine to cater to those with allergies is worth it. Finding an oat milk that’s entirely gluten-free would also solve a few problems. In terms of profits, it’s then catering for two per cent of the population, rather than one.
But then there are coeliacs who react to completely gluten-free oats. It’s all very complicated – which is why we need a thorough statement from Starbucks, working with CUK.
I’m not the only one angry about it. Here’s what the gluten free community on Twitter are saying about the Starbucks gluten-free fluff up:
It is just really fucking annoying @StarbucksUK. You’re catering for a dietary choice AHEAD of a dietary REQUIREMENT. And the numbers of those affected are about the same, so it will have no impact on profits. What you gain in vegans you lose in coeliacs.
— Simon (@the_go_slow) January 10, 2018
Also, a lot of the vegans I know are ethically vegan to the point where they abide by cross-contamination. Your oat milk is contaminating normal milk but also vice versa. You’ll be putting a dairy coated steam nozzle in to a ‘vegan’ drink. That isn’t, then, vegan.
— Simon (@the_go_slow) January 10, 2018
— The Student Coeliac (@thestudcoeliac) January 10, 2018
Gutted to find out @Starbucks coffees are no longer safe for #coeliacs as the risk of cross contamination is now present with the use of oat milk. Why introduce new #glutenfree food then take away our ability to have a drink?🙄😭 #glutenfree #Coeliac #starbucksoatmilk pic.twitter.com/eyb1JY575N
— Megan Haigh🍽🌎✈️ (@CoeliacTravels) January 10, 2018
@StarbucksUK extremely disappointed that you’ve now started using oat milk in your stores, which means that coeliacs and anyone who needs gluten-free can no longer drink there due to cross-contamination issues. Very short sighted.
— John Benson (@jrbenson) January 10, 2018
I’m sadly going to have to say goodbye to my @Starbucks chai latte, seeing as the new oat milk means I can’t drink anything without potentially getting ill!! Why bring out a gluten free panini but stop anyone with Coeliac Disease being able to order a drink? 😠
— Sophie Parker (@oatsodelicious) January 9, 2018
I’m disgusted @StarbucksUK have started using oat milk and therefore no milk coffees are gluten free anymore. No more Starbucks for me then!!!
— Laura Dee (@laurasus99) January 10, 2018
Hey @Starbucks No Oat milk for the USA please! You will effectively make it so no celiacs can eat or drink there. You just got #glutenfree food that’s safe. Let’s not take steps back! #donttakemycoffee
— Shannon (@ZimsFAB) January 10, 2018
When @StarbucksUK release the best #glutenfree panini and then piss off all the coeliacs by creating a cross contamination risk by launching non-gluten free oat milk all in the same week! Good job guys 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/2zWKI9V1Vr
— Sarah Howells (@GFBlogger) January 10, 2018
@StarbucksUK great that you’re doing #glutenfree panini, but how are you dealing with cross contamination risk between the new oat milk and ordinary milk (oat milk is not gluten free unless milled from GF oats, and even then can’t be tolerated by all Coeliacs)?
— Simon (@SiCornwell) January 9, 2018
@StarbucksUK why did you introduce a gluten free panini for all the lovely coeliacs then in the same week add oat milk meaning you cannot guarantee GF coffee any longer…. plain stupid.
— Sue (@YFESue) January 9, 2018
Some people are staying positive, but holding out on more information regarding cross-contamination:
Looks like @StarbucksUK might not be perfect for #glutenfree people anymore due to the new #dairyfree #soyafree oat milk available. I’m sure it will be fine & cross contamination is limited! It better be. I live on #Starbucks & I’m a #gold level member. 😢
— TheChamp80 (@TheChamp80) January 10, 2018
Coeliacs, be careful. Keep an eye out for news from Coeliac UK about Starbucks gluten-free policies and in the meantime, support your local independents! (Actually, always do that, the coffee is much better anyway). It’s not always possible though, and means we’re losing more convenience foods.