I have this in my Amazon Store. I wanted to let you all know what the response was from the actual company and leave the decision making up to you but first off, I want to tell you what is written about natural flavors from registered gluten-free dietician, Tricia Thomson. Gluten Free Living magazine also supports that any product containing wheat, barley or gluten must have it clearly labeled on the product.
From Tricia Thompson MD, RS, The Gluten Free Dietician:
Natural Flavor According to the Food and Drug Administration the terms natural flavor, natural flavoring” or flavoring on a food label, means “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” In other words, natural flavor, natural flavoring, and flavoring may be derived from gluten-containing grains. BUT unless you see the words wheat, barley, rye, or malt on the label of food product containing natural flavor, the natural flavor probably does not contain protein from these sources. Why? Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act if an ingredient in an FDA-regulated food product contains protein from wheat, the word “wheat” must be included on the food label either in the ingredients list or Contains statement. Even though natural flavoring is one of those ingredients (along with coloring and spice) that may be listed collectively, wheat protein will not be hidden. Barley is used in flavorings, such as malt flavoring and some smoke flavoring (see below) but these ingredients generally are declared in the ingredients list. Rye also could be used in a flavoring but probably will be listed as rye flavoring (which is generally made from rye flour) in the ingredients list or used in a food product you wouldn’t eat anyway, such as a bread product. The United States Department of Agriculture (regulates meat products, poultry products, and egg products) does not allow protein containing ingredients to be hidden under the collective ingredient name of natural flavor. Rather, protein containing ingredients must be included in the ingredient list by their common or usual name.
From the Natures Valley Company:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding our Organic Cream Of Chicken Soup. We strive to maintain the highest quality products and appreciate your patronage. We cannot guarantee this product to be gluten free as it may contain trace amounts in the Natural Flavors. We consider gluten to be in the following, barley, bulgur, couscous, durum, graham flour, kamut, malt , rye, semolina, spelt, triticale and any other types of wheat. We do not consider any oat products to be gluten free due to the fact that studies are needed to determine the long- term safety of oat consumption. The issue of cross contamination with oat and wheat remains a concern in North America. Consumer health and safety is our number one concern. We do not have lists of products that are specifically considered to be gluten free. Reading the label is the best way to check for the presence of ingredients which contain gluten. If gluten is a major ingredient, it will be specified in the ingredient list. For consumers concerned about the presence of trace amounts of gluten, we suggest avoiding products that include natural flavors or spices. Hain Celestial Group products that make a gluten-free claim will carry the triangular Gluten-Free symbol, be labeled gluten-free, or specify Gluten Free certification by GFCO. Further information regarding GFCO certification is available at Gluten Free Choices site online, www.glutenfreechoices.com. The Hain Celestial Group’s labeling declares major allergens (peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, and wheat) and we follow the U.S. FDA’s regulations. We recognize the serious nature of the allergen issue and we strive to minimize risk. Both major and minor ingredients of all products, as well as all processing procedures and equipment, are closely scrutinized and all potential allergen issues as determined by the Hain Celestial Group are declared on our labeling. If a product contains gluten (ie. wheat, oats, barley, etc…) as a major component, we will include it in the ingredient list. For consumers concerned about the presence of trace amounts of gluten, we suggest avoiding products that include natural flavors or spices. We assure you that strict manufacturing processes and procedures are in place and that all of our manufacturing facilities follow rigid allergen control programs that include staff training, segregation of allergen ingredients, production scheduling, and thorough cleaning and sanitation. Thank you for your continued support. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-434-4246, Monday through Friday from 7AM – 5PM Mountain Time. Sincerely, George Consumer Relations Representative