A couple of weeks ago in the middle of my weekly grocery shopping at H-E-B, I had the good fortune of running into (literally) H-E-B Houston President, Scott McClelland. I approached Scott and introduced myself as The Food Allergy Mom. I must say, he was absolutely charming and every bit as warm and friendly as he appears in those tv ads. I told him what a fan I am of H-E-B stores and products because of the tasty and affordable variety of gluten-free and allergen-friendly foods that they carry. (Read more about our conversation here.) We exchanged business cards and I asked him to check out my blog sometime.
Would you believe he emailed me by the day’s end to confirm that he had done so? Not only that, but I asked Scott to consider doing a guest post for us here so others would know about all of the fabulous gluten-free and allergy-friendly options H-E-B offers every day and those that will be especially handy this holiday season. He graciously accepted and his post is below.
If you haven’t already, I really do encourage you to stop by your local H-E-B grocery store and see the gluten-free and allergy-friendly glory for yourself!
A special thanks to Scott McClelland for taking the time to pen this post and for all that you and H-E-B do for the celiac and food allergy community!
Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free at H-E-B
By Scott McClelland
Every week I visit H-E-B stores throughout the state and more and more I’m asked by customers about the need for H-E-B to carry more gluten-free alternatives.
It’s clear that like all our customers, those who suffer from Celiac disease or have sensitivities to products with wheat, everyone likes having more choices available to them. With this as a backdrop, we have diligently been working to add gluten free variety into our stores. Here’s what H-E-B has been working on:
- Expanded gluten-free sets in over 90 stores across H-E-B’s trade area. In three of our largest stores, we carry over 2,600 different SKU’s in 60 feet of dry, refrigerated and frozen gluten-free items. These stores are located at:
- I-10/Bunker Hill
- Grand Parkway/Fry Road
- Hwy 249/Louetta
- Added hundreds of gluten-free items in our H-E-B brands such as H-E-B®, Hill Country Fare®, H-E-Buddy® and Central Market® available at most stores.
This past January we launched our nutritional shelf tag program that highlights specific nutritional or lifestyle attributes that many of our customers are looking for. We started with seven different tags, and this month we expanded to eleven. Gluten-free was in the original lineup, and now vegan and vegetarian tags can be found throughout our stores. (Please note that the absence of this icon does not necessarily mean that the item contains gluten. We continuously update our database monthly and are adding more products to our shelf tag program.)
As you may know, the FDA defined “gluten-free” this past August which standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. Prior to this, the definition of gluten free for the items in our H-E-B family of brands has been: contains no wheat, barley, rye, triticale or any triticum species such as spelt or kamut. Residual gluten level is below 20 parts per million (PPM). Our definition was developed in conjunction with our local celiac support group.
Many of our stores have gluten-free items in specific aisles, and spread out among our various departments. Favorite items include:
- H-E-B GF Pasta—penne, fusilli and spaghetti ($1.99 each-great taste at a great price!)
- H-E-B Pasta Sauce—Tomato Basil, Vegetable Primavera
- H-E-B GF Cornbread Mix
- H-E-B That Green Sauce, That Red Sauce, Relish That Corn
- H-E-B Plain Rice Crackers
- H-E-B Hummus
- CM Hummus
- H-E-B Fresh Mozzarella
- H-E-B Fully Cooked Sliced Smoked Turkey Breast or Pork Loin
- CM GF Pasta—linguini, penne and spaghetti
- CM Organics Low Sodium Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth
- PB2—use to replace flour in peanut-butter cookies, sprinkle on apple slices or add to smoothies
- Chia seed—when mixed with water works as a great egg-replacer in baked goods (great source of fiber, omega-3’s)
- Gluten Free Nation (Houston based)—sandwich bread and ready to bake pie crust
- King Arthur Flour—GF pancake mix, multi-purpose flour
- Southern Homestyle Corn Flake Crumbs, Tortilla Crumbs
- Tate’s GF Chocolate Chip Cookies
- NEWCentral Market GF Cake Mix
Although not store specific just yet, a list of gluten-free items can be found at http://www.heb.com/sectionpage/whats-in-store/departments/gluten-free/gluten-free-landing/products/sd30210057 (**note that this list is dated Jan 2013)
Some of the biggest hits with our customers are our selection of gluten-free breads, flours, lentil chips, and rice and nut based crackers. In our Healthy Living departments (located in most of our larger stores), you can also find many of our Central Market vitamin and mineral supplements that are free from wheat, gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Although our stores are not allergy-free zones, we will make every accommodation to help you. Please let us know of any special requests. For more information on Healthy at H-E-B, please visit www.heb.com/healthy