High levels of gluten found in 'gluten-free' crisps

Food manufacturer Largo has pleaded guilty to breaching food safety regulations

High levels of gluten found in 'gluten-free' crisps

Donna McWilliam AP/Press Association Images

Largo, the manufacturer of Tayto crisps, has admitted it sold crisps containing a high amount of gluten in a packet that was supposed to be gluten free.

The company has pleaded guilty to breaching food safety regulations - a criminal offence.

In May last year, a mother from Arklow, Co. Wicklow bought a 50g packet of O'Donnells Mature Irish Cheese and Onion gluten-free crisps for her 10-year-old son, The Irish Independent reports. However, she noticed he was beginning to suffer a reaction to the crisps when his ears turned red.

The mother complained to the company and the HSE subsequently brought the case to court.

Judge Gráinne Malone at Navan District Court said that the case was "a very serious matter".

Giving evidence, HSE environmental health officer Caitriona Sheridan said that in order for a product to be labelled gluten-free, it was required to have less than 20 parts-per-milligram (ppmg) gluten.

When the crisps that were subject to the complaint were subject of the complaint, they were found to hav more than 700ppmg gluten.

Two other complaints were made about the gluten-free product. Counsel for the company, Andrew Whelan, told the court the issue was identified as malfunction in the line.

He continued that Largo had spent €100,000 to remedy the problem and gluten-free products were now packaged in a "totally segregated" production area. 

Largo indicated it would be prepared to make a donation to a charity for people with coeliac disease. 

At last 43,000 people are coeliac in Ireland.