Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HoneyBaked Ham...Not the Same in all States?

Back in December, I contacted Honeybaked Ham through their 1-800 number and through email and received their ingredient list for their ham and was given a statement that their hams are free of the common allergens: dairy, soy, gluten and nuts. I confirmed this with the ingredient list, and I know a couple of other moms who emailed to get the list also (you know us allergy moms like to take a look at the label ourselves to make sure).

Yesterday, I received a comment from a reader that made me curious to find out some more information:

I received this email from them today. It appears that it does contain gluten, wheat starch?

Our Honeybaked Hams are cured with:Pork, Water, Salt, Sodium Lactate, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite

Spices and Glaze contain:Processed from: Sugar, Gelatin, Honey Powder (honey, high fructose corn syrup, wheat starch, corn syrup, soy flour) Paprika, Dextrose, Spices, Natural Flavorings.

When I read this, I was confused. I thought, "surely they didn't change the ingredients, because they had come so far with making them safe for more people."

I got on the phone this morning with a really nice representative and she explained a lot and I wanted to share it with you. Because of the nature of this blog (food allergies), I try to make sure to thoroughly research what I post to make sure that it is safe. I would never want someone to just take my word and something happen to them or their child. I take this very seriously because I know first hand how serious (and possibly life-threatening) food allergies can be.

Ready for a story?

Here we go...When the owner of Honeybaked Ham died, the business was split between four grandchildren and for whatever reason they went their separate ways. Because of this, there are four Honeybaked Ham divisions (Georgia, Ohio, Massachusetts, and California).

Two years ago, the change was made in the ingredient list to make the hams allergy friendly. It was the representative's understanding that all of the divisions made this change, but she cannot fully guarantee it because the owners of the divisions operate separate from each other. She then told me that because of the severity of food allergies to make sure the person wanting the ham contacts their local store for the ingredient list. She did guarantee me however, that the ham in Tennessee is allergen free because the Georgia Division owns our stores.

If you go to http://www.honeybaked.com/ and click on Our Stores, you are then prompted to enter your State (now you know why...they are run by different owners). When I enter in Tennessee, I am directed to http://www.honeybakedonline.com/. At the top of the web page, you will see HELP, if you click on this it has frequently asked questions and one of the questions is Do your hams have gluten in them? ANSWER: We have reformulated our glaze to be considered free of allergens. This means our hams and turkey breasts DO NOT contain glutens. This is from the Georgia division.

But, for example, when I entered California as my state, I was directed to a completely different website and no where did it state any gluten free information about the hams...crazy, huh?

So here is my suggestion if you do not live in Tennessee or Georgia, contact your local store and speak with the MANAGER and ask him to read you the ingredient list in the glaze (this is where the possible problem could be with the wheat/gluten).

The representative that I spoke with in Georgia mentioned that the person my reader emailed might have possibly sent the out-dated ingredient list because they either do not know, or do not really care (I know I have spoken with people who have NO CLUE about food allergies or the people who are annoyed and don't want to deal with you) OR possibly the stores in California have not changed their ingredient list for whatever reason (this makes no sense to me why they wouldn't keep Honeybaked Ham the same). She also said California was the most difficult division to get a hold of for whatever reason. Again, the best way to handle this is to contact the local store that you would want to pick your ham up at and speak directly to the manager.

So, you and I have had a history lesson today about HoneyBaked Ham. Pretty interesting, huh?

If you are from another state and have had a safe Honeybaked Ham....will you let us know what state in the comments? I have had a safe ham in Tennesee and in North Carolina.
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  1. This is why food allergies get so frustrating, isn't it? Aargh!

  2. Thank you so much! I am in CA and was the person who received that email. I wish it could all be simpler. Thanks again, I will be contacting the store directly.

  3. All HoneyBaked Hams are gluten free. Across the US, all of our hams are created to bring the same incredible quality and taste to each of our customers. Each ham is crafted a very specific recipe and to ensure that the experience of our consumers is always one of joy.
    Leigh- HoneyBaked of Georgia

  4. Hey Roo, I know, it is frustrating sometimes. Let me know what you find out :)

  5. Hey Leigh,
    Thanks for letting us know. I just hate that the representative in CA emailed information that had wheat/gluten as the ingredient. It makes people really concerned because food allergies can be life threatening. If their ham is safe...they need to make sure they are giving out the correct information to those who are inquiring.

  6. Leigh said "All HoneyBaked Hams are gluten free"? Not true in California! Thanks to Rachel's suggestion, I called our local store in Upland, California and asked that the employee read the ingredient list. They are indeed using wheat starch in the glaze. She said that the glaze ingredients melt and go into/through the ham, so it's definitely off-limits for those on a gluten-free diet. What a shame!
    -Lily in Los Angeles

  7. Today I went to the Upland Store who insisted the glaze contains wheat starch. The 800# (800-854-5995) insisted that the hams are gluten free in California now. I don't know who to believe so I am staying away.


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