Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are labeled as gluten-free and are a tasty snack bar option for people following a gluten-free diet. However, there has been some uncertainty around whether they are truly gluten-free or not. Here is a closer look at the ingredients and manufacturing process to determine if Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are gluten-free.
Background on Gluten
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, and more. The only treatment is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet by avoiding all foods and products containing gluten.
For a product to be considered gluten-free, it must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This trace amount threshold was determined to be safe for the majority of gluten-sensitive individuals. Anything labeled “gluten-free” is expected to fall under this limit.
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar Ingredients
The ingredient list for Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars is as follows:
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Cane Sugar
- Rice Flour
- Natural Flavors
- Sunflower Oil
- Citric Acid
- Ascorbic Acid
Nature’s Bakery states that all their products are made in a gluten-free facility. The Fig Bars do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients like wheat, barley, rye or malt. The flour used is rice flour and the bars are made on dedicated gluten-free production lines.
Testing for Gluten
Nature’s Bakery products reportedly undergo testing to verify gluten levels are below 10 ppm. This is well below the FDA limit of less than 20 ppm to be labeled gluten-free. While the testing methodology is not disclosed, most companies use ELISA immunoassay tests which can accurately detect traces of gluten down to 5-10 ppm.
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are certified gluten-free by GFCO (Gluten-Free Certification Organization). This independent organization inspects manufacturing facilities and performs product testing to confirm gluten-free status.
Fig Bar Recall in 2016
In September 2016, Nature’s Bakery issued a voluntary recall of some Fig Bar varieties due to possible gluten contamination. The affected products were Gingerbread Fig Bars, Double Nut Dark Chocolate Fig Bars, and Raspberry Fig Bars produced on certain dates.
The company stated the recall was initiated after a supply of an ingredient was found to potentially contain trace amounts of gluten due to a temporary breakdown in a supplier’s production process. Out of an abundance of caution, all products produced during the timeframe in question were recalled.
Since the 2016 recall, there have been no reports of gluten contamination issues with Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars or other products. The company appears to have rectified the situation with improved supplier oversight and manufacturing controls.
Are Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars Gluten-Free: The Verdict
Based on an analysis of the ingredients, testing procedures, certifications, and lack of contamination reports since 2016, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars can be considered gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
However, it is always advisable for those sensitive to gluten to be aware that there is some small risk of cross-contamination during production. Consult with your doctor to decide if enjoying these bars as an occasional treat fits within your gluten-free diet plan.
Other Gluten-Free Fig Bar Options
For those who prefer alternative brands or want to avoid any remote chance of gluten exposure from manufacturing, here are some other gluten-free fig bar options to consider:
- KIND Fruit Bites Fig bars
- MadeGood Prebiotic Figgy Pops
- GoRaw Sprouted Organic Fig Bars
- nutraceliac gluten-free Fig Bars
Always thoroughly check the label and look for a gluten-free certification seal when selecting pre-packaged foods.
Making Your Own Gluten-Free Fig Bars
For full control over ingredients, many gluten-free consumers enjoy making their own fig bar recipes at home. There are many tasty options using clean ingredients like figs, dates, nuts, oats, and coconut.
Here is one simple recipe to try:
Gluten-Free Oatmeal Fig Bars
- 3 cups gluten-free oats
- 1 cup chopped figs
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a food processor, pulse the oats until they reach a flour-like consistency.
- Add the figs, honey, vanilla and salt. Pulse to combine.
- Pour in the melted coconut oil and process until a dough is formed.
- Transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and press evenly into the pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes, allow to cool, then cut into bars.
Get creative with gluten-free mix-ins like nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, cinnamon, etc. Homemade bars allow you to control the quality and avoid any questionable ingredients.
Based on a careful review of the ingredients, manufacturing practices and third-party certifications, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars can be considered gluten-free and safe for most gluten-free diets. There was one past recall due to a supplier issue, but no reported problems since then.
Those highly sensitive should exercise some caution and consider alternative brands or homemade bars. But for many gluten-free consumers, enjoying these convenient, tasty fig bars seems to be a low-risk option.