Local News

Judge halts firm's bread sales

Posted January 22, 2010 2:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2010 2:45 p.m. EST

— A Superior Court judge has ordered a Durham-based company to stop selling bread it advertises as gluten-free after state regulators determined the bread could cause reactions in people who are allergic to gluten.

Judge Donald Stephens issued a temporary restraining order Thursday to prevent Great Specialty Products from selling its bread and other baked goods until a Feb. 1 court hearing on a state lawsuit against the firm.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services wants the court to prohibit Great Specialty from advertising its products as gluten-free.

Numerous people who bought products from Great Specialty at the 2009 State Fair or ordered items off the company's Web site have complained of allergic reactions after eating the products, according to the lawsuit.

Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains, and some people with autoimmune disorders experience digestive problems when they eat products containing gluten.

Tests of some of the company's bread showed high levels of gluten, the lawsuit states.

Great Specialty is run out of a house on Cardinal Lake Drive in Durham, said Brian Long, a spokesman for the agriculture department. He said the company didn't bake its own bread but purchased items from bakeries and packaged and sold them under its own label, claiming the products were gluten-free.

Because the company sold directly to consumers and not through grocery stores and other retailers, it's unknown how many loaves of bread and other products were sold to unsuspecting buyers, Long said.