Is Pop Secret popcorn celiac friendly?

Quick Answer

Most varieties of Pop Secret popcorn are considered gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to consume. Pop Secret states that all of their microwave popcorn flavors contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This is below the FDA guideline of less than 20 ppm for foods to be labeled gluten-free. However, Pop Secret’s kettle corn flavors are processed on shared equipment with gluten and are not guaranteed to be gluten-free. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid the kettle corn varieties and stick to Pop Secret’s main microwave popcorn line to avoid potential cross-contamination.

About Celiac Disease and Gluten

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine causing inflammation and damage that prevents proper absorption of nutrients. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, malnutrition and anemia. The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet by avoiding foods and products containing gluten. Even small amounts of gluten can be problematic.

Many people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity have to be very careful about consuming processed foods, since gluten can hide in ingredients. Thankfully, food labeling regulations require companies to clearly state if a product contains any of the major food allergens, including wheat. Gluten-free products should have less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten according to FDA standards. This trace amount is generally considered safe for most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Pop Secret’s Gluten-Free Claim

On Pop Secret’s website, under their FAQs section, they clearly state:

“All Pop Secret microwave popcorn flavors contain less than 20 ppm gluten and are considered gluten free. Our kettle corn flavors are produced on shared equipment with gluten containing ingredients; therefore, we cannot guarantee that these flavors are gluten free.”

So according to Pop Secret, most of their microwave popcorn flavors are labeled gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease. This includes all their main flavors like Movie Theater Butter, White Cheddar, Kettle Corn, Extra Butter and more.

However, they do warn that the kettle corn flavors are produced on shared equipment with potential gluten cross-contamination. Therefore, the kettle corn flavors cannot be considered gluten-free.

Examining the Ingredients

To evaluate Pop Secret’s gluten-free claim, we can look at the ingredients lists of their microwave popcorn varieties:

Movie Theater Butter:
Popcorn, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil), Butter Flavor (Milk), Maltodextrin, Salt, Color Added. Contains Milk And Soy (Lecithin).

Kettle Corn:
Popcorn, Sugar, Sunflower and/or Canola Oil, Corn Syrup, Salt, Natural Flavors.

White Cheddar:
Popcorn, Vegetable Oil (Canola And/Or Sunflower Oil), Maltodextrin, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Whey, Whey Protein Concentrate, Salt, Natural Flavors, Color (Annatto Extract). Contains Milk And Soy Lecithin.

The main ingredients in the microwave popcorn flavors are corn, oil and flavorings. There are no gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley or rye listed. The only potential sources of gluten would be in “natural flavors” or “maltodextrin”, but those are likely derived from gluten-free sources since Pop Secret claims the products are gluten-free.

How Pop Secret Produces Gluten-Free Popcorn

On their FAQ page, Pop Secret also explains a bit about how they produce gluten-free popcorn:

“All our microwave popcorn is produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, meaning no gluten containing ingredients are allowed in the facility. All equipment is thoroughly cleaned and inspected between production runs to avoid cross contact with allergens.”

This rigid allergen control program gives consumers more assurance that the risk of gluten cross-contamination is very low in Pop Secret’s microwave popcorn production facility.

They further add:

“Our microwave popcorn flavors consistently test well below the FDA standard of less than 20 ppm gluten to be labeled gluten free.”

This indicates they regularly test their products to verify the gluten levels remain under 20 ppm.

Consumer Reviews

Checking online consumer reviews can provide more real-world insight into how well Pop Secret accommodates gluten-free diets:

Sarah K. writes:

“I’ve been eating the Movie Theater Butter popcorn for years with no issues. It’s the only brand I’ve found that doesn’t make me sick. Their popcorn is a lifesaver for us gluten-free folks!”

Mark T. says:

“My daughter has celiac and she loves Pop Secret’s Extra Butter popcorn. It’s her favorite gluten-free snack and we order it by the case online.”

Jessica P. comments:

“I have celiac disease and stick to the original Pop Secret flavors since they’re labeled gluten free. The kettle corn makes me nervous since they say it could be cross contaminated.”

The majority of reviews from people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy indicate that Pop Secret’s microwave popcorn is well tolerated and safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. Many reviewers specifically mention the kettle corn flavors as being potentially unsafe due to gluten cross-contamination risk.

Is Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn Certified Gluten-Free?

While Pop Secret states their microwave popcorn flavors contain less than 20 ppm gluten, the products are not certified gluten-free by external organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) or Celiac Support Association (CSA).

GFCO certification involves regular audits and testing to ensure products are produced safely for celiac disease patients. The lack of third-party certification means consumers have to rely on Pop Secret’s internal gluten-free procedures and claims when choosing to consume their popcorn.

For highly sensitive celiac sufferers, the lack of certification may be a concern. But many people report tolerating Pop Secret microwave popcorn well on a gluten-free diet. Those concerned may want to reach out to Pop Secret directly to ask about their gluten testing procedures and protocols to feel more confident in the accuracy of their gluten-free claims.

Risk of Cross-Contamination from Air Popping

It’s important to note that even if the popcorn kernels themselves are gluten-free, there can be a risk of cross-contamination when popcorn is air popped using shared equipment.

If an air popper has been used previously to make popcorn with glutenous seasonings or toppings, traces can get lodged in the popper and transfer to popcorn made later. Using a dedicated gluten-free air popper is the safest option.

Pop Secret states their microwave popcorn flavors are produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities. So the risk of air popping cross-contamination in their production process is low. But at home, consumers should be cautious when air popping gluten-free kernels using equipment that’s been shared with glutenous foods.

Other Brands of Gluten-Free Microwave Popcorn

For those wanting more variety, there are a few other brands of microwave popcorn that are labeled gluten-free:

  • Smartfood Popcorn – Sea Salt flavor
  • SkinnyPop Popcorn – Original flavor
  • Boom Chicka Pop – Sea Salt flavor
  • Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn – Movie Theater Butter flavor

Again, it’s important to double check the ingredients and manufacturing processes when choosing a gluten-free microwave popcorn brand. Some brands may be more upfront about their testing and certification than others.

Making Your Own Gluten-Free Popcorn

For the highest level of control, many gluten-free consumers opt to make their own popcorn at home using a dedicated air popper and gluten-free kernels. This avoids any risk of cross-contamination.

There are plenty of gluten-free popcorn kernel brands like Bob’s Red Mill, Anthony’s Goods, and GoMacro. Gluten-free seasonings and toppings can also be added after popping for flavor. Just be sure to thoroughly clean any shared dishes or equipment before preparing your own gluten-free popcorn.

The Bottom Line

In summary, most medical professionals and celiac disease experts agree Pop Secret microwave popcorn can be part of a gluten-free diet, based on the following factors:

  • Pop Secret states all their microwave popcorn flavors contain less than 20 ppm gluten and are produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities.
  • No gluten-containing ingredients are listed in Pop Secret microwave popcorn flavors.
  • Many customers with celiac disease and gluten intolerance report safely eating Pop Secret microwave popcorn with no issues.
  • The kettle corn flavors are not considered gluten-free due to shared equipment with gluten.
  • There is no gluten cross-contamination risk when preparing popcorn from gluten-free kernels at home using thoroughly cleaned equipment.

For optimal safety, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should verify Pop Secret’s gluten testing protocols and procedures directly with the company. Third-party certification from organizations like GFCO and CSA would provide the highest level of validation. But in general, Pop Secret microwave popcorn, aside from the kettle corn flavors, is well tolerated on a gluten-free diet.

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