CELIAC CAUTION! Save-On-Foods Rotisserie Chickens

Rotisserie ChickensAs the unofficial go-to grocer for celiac-safe, gluten-free rotisserie chickens, The Celiac Scene’s inadvertent discovery that SaveOn Foods is now offering ‘Beer Can Seasoned’ flavored chickens is distressing to say the least.

Through their part-time work at SaveOn Foods in Saanich, BC,  my teenaged children were able to provide first-hand insight that rotisserie chickens were seasoned on-site with ‘just salt’, inside and out, then perfectly cooked and carefully served – gluten free – to appreciative customers. It has been a delight for celiacs to stop in at a local SaveOn to pick up a cooked deli chicken that they knew would be delicious and that they could trust to meet their dietary needs.

That is why and where I found myself at SaveOn’s Saanich location when I overheard a deli staffer offer the customer ahead me the option of a “Beer Can Flavoured Chicken.” Say what?  My celiac sonar went into high gear.

The astute and forthright deli employee shared that as of this past week, chickens supplied by Hallmark Poultry in Vancouver now arrive pre-seasoned with ‘just salt’ or with Oregano Rosemary, Mediterranean or Beer Can Rubs. As we poured over the ingredient lists that Hallmark Poultry provides, to my dismay, the Beer Can Rub contained ‘autolyzed yeast extract’ made from BARLEY, pictured below.

SaveOn Foods Beer Can Seasoning

The End of an Era

It is reasonable for one to assume that drippings from chickens seasoned with Beer Can Rub effectively cross contaminate all chickens cooking in rotation in a shared oven, throughout any given day. Furthermore, one can expect that oven utensils and surfaces will also become cross contaminated with barley and that there will be further cross-contamination when staff remove cooked chickens from the spits and place them into the display case.

The Extra Mile

While SaveOn Foods did not overtly promote their rotisserie chickens as gluten free, the introduction of a gluten ingredient in what was unofficially a much-appreciated gluten-free option effectively puts this option off limits for celiacs and shoppers who want or need to follow a gluten-free diet.

I sincerely hope that SaveOn Foods goes the ‘Extra Mile’ to protect the health and well-being not just of their gluten  free customers, but consumers with other sensitivities (sulfites) or health concerns in general re: chemicals.  In the meantime, it’s time for the gluten-free to shop with their feet.

Can you suggest a grocer that does not use gluten-ingredients to season chickens cooked in a shared rotisserie?