Of Gluten, Bacon, And Reverse Deceit

gluten free baconThere is no valid scientific evidence that gluten–the protein in wheat, barley and rye—is harmful in any way unless you suffer from Celiac Disease, which few people do, or have an allergy to it, which isn’t common either. Somehow the food and nutrition scammers, aided by aging hippies, vegans and none-too-bright celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow have convinced a depressing number of people that gluten is generally deadly, and this has created a boffo market for food marked “gluten free” and sold at unethically high prices, since they are supported by gullibility and little else.

Yesterday, I noticed that Boar’s Head pre-cooked microwave bacon is prominently labelled “gluten-free.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty certain that bacon, like my shoes, the pavement on the street where I live, my cell phone and my laptop, is always gluten-free. I checked my assumption on a gluten website, which confirmed it, but the site also said that you never know when bacon might be cross-contaminated by the nasty stuff, just traces of course, but you never know!!!! 

Apparently you do know if the company says the bacon is gluten-free, although I don’t know why. Nor do I know how you would prove you got sick from the trace gluten on your bacon, nor understand why the bacon doesn’t come with denials of contamination by anything else that might bother some people—-arsenic, peanuts, shellfish, penicillin, lactose, cat hair, broken glass, ISIS.

In truth, this labeling is a cynical, clever, unethical sort of accusation and innuendo conveyed by the statement of an unethical fact. I call it reverse deceit. Deceit is the statement of a fact in such a way that it intentionally misleads someone into thinking the statement means what it does not mean. The statement that the bacon is gluten-free isn’t deceit, like “my dog doesn’t bite” when you know that the person you are talking to thinks the dog in front of him is your dog, but it isn’t, and it bites. No, the gluten-free announcement is clear and straightforward. However, it casts doubt on every other brand of bacon simply by making the  unnecessary declaration, and I think that’s part of the reason for it. By making the assertion that its bacon doesn’t have something perceived as harmful that shouldn’t be in any bacon, it automatically generates suspicion. Hey, Hormel microwave bacon doesn’t say it’s gluten (sea scallop, heroin, rat turd) free…is that because it does contain gluten (jelly beans, PCP, crude oil)? How do I know? I better stick with this brand. It’s transparent and responsible.

Clever. Also ridiculous.

From now on, I will judge any product that tries to get me to buy it by telling me that it has no gluten in  it when there is no reason in the world for it to have gluten in it and no reason in the world to assume its competitors would have gluten in their products as 1) treating me like a scamster’s mark, 2) assuming I’m an idiot, 3) trying to make me paranoid, 4) participating in a worldwide food scaremongering scheme and 5) engaging in dishonest marketing by using reverse deceit.

That’s right: I’m only buying bacon brands that don’t say their bacon is gluten-free, because I don’t trust the ones that do.

Post Script: It’s pretty funny that the Boar’s Head package says the bacon is gluten free but shows it being used in a sandwich.


39 thoughts on “Of Gluten, Bacon, And Reverse Deceit

  1. To be generous, there is also the possibility that because the average consumer is terrified enough of gluten and has been convinced enough that gluten is EVERYWHERE, bacon sellers have noticed a drop in sales, and have also done their market research and determined people are worried about gluten and therefore are trapped having to inform the consumer of something *attentive* consumers should know…

    Of course, that’s a stretch and being generous.

          • Probably, but ethics aside, it would be very, very foolish to do so. One can assume Blue Bell’s competition ran a finger around its collective collar and muttered “there but for the grace of God…”

            It’s never wise to make a promise that you can’t guarantee you’ll keep. And no one who works with food products can ever positively ensure that they’ll never be a vector for illness.

            Make that promise once, find yourself in an incident, and you may as well hand over the keys to the factory.

              • One more week til you get Blue Bell back, Tex. My Texan fam and friends are all jonesing. 🙂 Also, Blue Bell sits in a special spot where almost everyone is ready for the ice cream and there’s less to make up for, even though some people died. It’s a strange phenomenon. But I admit, I’ll eat Blue Bell as soon as I get offered it, even here in MD where I can’t buy it.

  2. Come on Jack. Please don’t criticize the handful of food manufacturers who willingly and voluntarily label their packaging to protect “at risk” consumers. Not all bacon IS gluten free. My guess is you don’t have anyone in your family with a serious food allergy.

  3. “sold at unethically high prices, since they are supported by gullibility and little else.”

    I call it the “Sucker Tax,” an overcharge willingly paid because it tweaks the “gosh I’m nice” area of the brain pan and verily ramps up those critical ‘feel-good’ endorphin levels.

  4. Absolutely agree. And ridiculous the the picture shows a sandwich.
    And, added benefit, the Hormel product is better packaged and easier to use, not to mention tastier.
    An ethics no-brainer.

  5. “However, it casts doubt on every other brand of bacon simply by making the unnecessary declaration, and I think that’s part of the reason for it. By making the assertion that its bacon doesn’t have something perceived as harmful that shouldn’t be in any bacon, it automatically generates suspicion.”

    I don’t know what went on in the Boar’s Head offices, but bacon can be considered part of the “bacon” market, or part of the “breakfast food” market, or part of lots of markets in between. In some of those markets, they’re directly competing with gluten-packed products. As an analogy, there are a lot of pretzels on the market that say “Fat-Free.” They’re not saying these pretzels next to us are fatty, they’re saying potato chips are fatty.

    What is bacon to do in a health-obsessed world? It’s bacon – gluten may be the only card bacon has to play.

  6. OK, this stuff isn’t harmless foolishness. Immunologists have known for decades that your immune system learns what is normal and what is foreign in the first few years of life. Withholding something on purpose during this time can cause the body to view this as foreign and result in an immune response to it. A paper I saw several months ago had results that suggested that 16/17 children with peanut allergies have it because peanuts were withheld early in life. Withholding gluten is likely to cause an increased number of people with allergies to it as well. Think about it, parents are giving their children these conditions on purpose.

    Cut it out! I don’t care if your pediatrician says to do it.

    Oh, and if your child has peanut allergies, get them treatment for it. They have a new peanut allergen patch that you can apply that can increase your child’s tolerance to peanuts to make their peanut allergy merely an annoyance, not a life threatening condition. It may eliminate it completely.

    On a less serious note, you should include vegetable products labelled ‘cholesterol free’ as well. Plant cells have a cell wall, they don’t use cholesterol to regulate the rigidity of their cell membrane.

    • I’m inclined to agree. It makes me angry that people don’t do more to fight allergies, not because of any personal experiences I have, but because I have a visceral reaction of loathing towards systems that are supposed to sustain people but that have delicate self-destruct triggers, whether they be people’s emotions or immune systems. We should be able to trust our bodies to become stronger with experience, not to perform the cellular equivalent of flipping out when a spider runs across their finger and stabbing their hand repeatedly to make it go away.

      Granted, it’s irrational for me to be angry at non-conscious biological problems (I feel the same way about genetic disorders). At least I am very precise and logical in what I dislike.

  7. This reminds me of the hilarious Chex-Mix packaging (which I think Jack wrote about before) which states in large letters (with asterisk) “20% LESS FAT!” And in small letters, by the asterisk, it says “…than regular POTATO CHIPS.” (!)

    The gluten topic has been already discussed by other readers, so no comment there. But like everything else in our society, this is another example of so much hype, so much deceit. So it’s no wonder Hillary still has more than 10 supporters… Packaging, deceit, packaging, lies, packaging, deflection, packaging, re-writing history, packaging, packaging, packaging… of products and much, much worse, of people.

  8. The whole “gluten free” thing is so ridiculous. I say good for Boars Head. Working in a pizza restaurant that served gluten free pizza for years i have a lot of firsthand experience dealing with people who want gluten free.

    The truth is that the label gluten free wasn’t even regulated until a year ago so companies could use their own definition of what gluten free meant. It now means the product has to be less then 20 ppm gluten, specifically wheat gluten. So, these products can still contain corn gluten or any other gluten.

    The majority of people who want gluten free don’t even know what gluten is. They think it is more healthy for them like fat free or no trans fats. They would order the most unhealthy things on the menu and a diet coke, then be satisfied they made a healthy choice in pop. I would get all sorts of questions like “are your potato wedges gluten free”? My response would have to be “well i can’t guarantee it is gluten free because it is not labeled as such, but the only ingredient is potatoes so you will have to decide for yourself”.

    If Boars Head can sell more bacon by slapping a label on their food then good for them.

    • “If Boars Head can sell more bacon by slapping a label on their food then good for them.”

      What other ridiculous things would it be fine to put on the label? You do realize such conduct perpetuates and supports what you say is ridiculous, right? This is the “everybody does it” rationalization.

  9. No pigs were harmed in the making of this bacon. (joking)
    What i was saying is ridiculous is the craze of gluten free and not the label. It is not the manufacturer’s responsibility to educate the consumer on what gluten free is. If they need reassurances about things they have no clue about then give it to them.

  10. Living in the NW, where hippies took over already, I have a friend who proudly stated “I always buy asbestos-free breakfast cereal” in response to the ridiculous labeling in organic food stores.
    “Isn’t cereal always asbestos-free?”
    “Yeah, well… but would you eat one that wasn’t?!?!?

  11. I’m somewhat torn between feelings on this gluten-free craze. On the one hand, most of the people buying GF don’t need it, so they’re wasting their money and spreading falsehood. On the other hand, demand drives supply, so more people buying GF means more and better gluten-free stuff to buy (my wife has Celiac’s, so this is very personal for me).

    Oh well. If people are going to be idiots, at least they can be useful idiots.

  12. FODMAPS! Look it up.

    Most of the people who can’t tolerate foods containing gluten are actually reacting to foods containing the above compound — a naturally occurring sugar that is very difficult for some people to digest. Gluten and FODMAPS go hand in hand, so gluten gets a rap it doesn’t deserve.

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