Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Starbucks Holiday Drinks

Starbucks' "red cups of cheer" are here for the season, but unfortunately for those of us with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, we can't share in that cheer: the coffee chain's holiday beverages aren't safe for us.
The Chestnut Praline Latte, Gingerbread Latte, Caramel Brulee Latte, Eggnog Latte, Peppermint Mocha and Skinny Peppermint Mocha don't contain any actual gluten ingredients, according to Starbucks spokesperson Holly Hart Shafer, who supervised a review of ingredients at my request in 2013 to look for potential sources of gluten.
But "although no gluten ingredients were identified in these beverages, a majority of the syrups, sauces and some toppings were manufactured on shared equipment that also processes wheat and other gluten-containing ingredients," Shafter says. "We cannot and do not claim that any of our beverages are gluten-free due to the fact that we use shared equipment and handle gluten and allergens throughout the store."
For 2015 (as was true for the holiday season in 2014), Starbucks confirmed that nothing has changed. And of course, there aren't any baked holiday treats that are gluten-free, either -- no, for us, it's yet another Kind bar or one of Starbucks' gluten-free marshmallow crisp bars (if the store in question happens to have them in stock).
Can you tell I'm not feeling the holiday spirit here?

So What CAN I Get At Starbucks?

Now, my friends do like to go to Starbucks, possibly even more so this time of year. And Starbucks' lack of attention to those of us who can't eat wheat, barley and rye fortunately doesn't stop me from ordering a plain cappuccino or latte (read more about what's safe and what's not safe here: Starbucks Gluten-Free List).
A few people (those who don't have celiac and who aren't particularly sensitive to trace gluten) seem to do okay with foods made on shared equipment (see Shared Facility or Equipment: Is It Safe? for the details), and they may be able to consume the holiday drinks without getting glutened.
But Starbucks' answer does place these yummy-sounding holiday coffee drinks in the same "no gluten ingredients" category as Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte ...
and the comments I've received over the years about that holiday drink indicate it's most definitely not safe.
So happy holidays — but at Starbucks, not so much.
- About Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity