ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

Freedom Bakery faces heat over food fraud allegations

Cape Town-based Freedom Bakery has been accused of food fraud and false labeling on their products.

It's alleged that the bakery is passing of its products as ‘sugar-free’ and ‘gluten-free’ - when in fact they are not.

Read: You're probably reading expiry dates wrong (and wasting food in the process)

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler has been investigating these claims and explains that the food fraud has ethical, legal and health implications.

In 2015, the Earth Fair Market removed Freedom Bakery as a trader at their market after her products tested positive for high levels of gluten and sucrose.

The City of Cape Town's health directorate also received a complaint last year alleging that the bakery's wheat products were bought from another bakery and relabeled.

Allergen specialist Dr Harris Steinman independently tested several of Freedom Bakery's products at the Food and Allergy and Consulting Services (FACTS) laboratory in September.

Also read: Why consumers need to wake up to plastic waste (and start recycling)

At least four separate tests at FACTS found that the Freedom Bakery's products contained high levels of gluten and wheat in a number of products, including their Banting bread.

They have consistently contained levels of gluten and wheat that is consistent with a normal wheat roll.

Dr Harris Steinman, owner of FACTS (Food and Allergy and Consulting Services laboratory)

Meanwhile, Freedom Bakery owner Natasha Mandiringa says the business uses "alternative flour" and "alternative sweeteners" in the baking process.

She says she did conduct the full audit of her bakery's products. She supplied the City of Cape Town with samples for testing. She adds that for a small home-based business, testing is expensive and the City has said they would do it free of charge.

They came into my shop and they took all my products....and they were signed and sealed.

Natasha Mandiringa, Freedom Bakery

She says she is waiting for the results.

But 11 months later and no results yet says Knowler.

Take a listen to the consumer debate:

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.


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