There’s an old saying that goes “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” When it comes to a La Jolla, California-based bread company named Julian Bakery, which has been aggressively marketing products they claim are good for people in the low-carb and Paleo community to consume in recent years, no words could be more apropos. If you’ve been a long-time reader of the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog, then you know I’ve chronicled the long and sordid history of fraudulent labeling this company has engaged in as a means for hoodwinking people into thinking their products are acceptable for people following a low-carb lifestyle. Now the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has laid down the hammer on Julian Bakery for what they describe as four “significant violations” of their labeling standards–AGAIN!–in 2014. Full details on that in a moment. But let’s explore some relevant background to see why this isn’t some one-time inadvertent mistake from a company attempting to do the right thing.
It was on the annual Low-Carb Cruise in 2011 when my Swedish friend Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt from the “Diet Doctor” blog gave a presentation where he issued a warning about some of the dubious “low-carb” products that were being promoted as a healthy alternative to their high-carb counterparts. At the time he shared about how he tested the Dreamfields pasta which claimed to have protected carbs in them to have a net impact of 5 grams and his blood sugar showed otherwise. Dr. Eenfeldt’s experiment inspired me to conduct my very first n=1 test on the Dreamfield’s pasta in May 2011 and my blood sugar test results were nearly identical–the so-called “low-carb” pasta responded exactly the same as regular pasta. In 2014, the company was forced to offer up a $7.9 million settlement of a class action lawsuit for fraudulent labeling claims for not accurately representing the proper carbohydrate counts on their nutrition label.
This experience with Dreamfield’s pasta got me wondering what other products being marketed to the low-carb community might not be what they claim to be. That’s when I conducted an n=1 test on the Julian Bakery Smart Carb breads cooked in coconut oil with cheese in June 2011. I compared two of the “healthy” versions of the high-fiber bread made by Julian Bakery with white bread and wheat bread and the results weren’t pretty. Blood sugar spikes followed by reactive hypoglycemia with all four breads. When I shared my results with Julian Bakery owner, Heath Squier (pictured on the right), he was less than impressed claiming that the nutritional label for his bread has been tested for accuracy by independent labs and that they were in fact correct in claiming to be low in net carbs. He also claimed my experiment was flawed because cheese spikes blood sugar. Say what?!
Although I knew Heath’s objection to my experiment on his breads was totally bogus, I decided to placate him by doing a second round of testing of the dry Julian Bakery bread by itself as he requested. My blood sugar results this time around were even worse than when I consumed the breads with coconut oil and cheese. Needless to say, more excuses and claims that my results were invalid were hurled my way by Heath while he maintained he had plenty of testimonials that diabetics were consuming his bread with no problems at all. The vehement denials of responsibility for misrepresenting the nutritional content of his breads were becoming more and more disconcerting since so many people in the low-carb community were purchasing from Julian Bakery.
My n=1 testing results caught the attention of a Portland, OR-based Julian Bakery customer named Deborah Krueger (pictured on the left), a former bakery manager and chef with pre-diabetes, who was curious about the carbohydrate claims made by the company regarding their breads. Like me, she decided to conduct her own blood sugar experiment of the breads and had even more disastrous results than I did. But Deborah went one step further–on her own dime, she sent samples of the Julian Bakery Smart Carb bread to a testing center called Exova in May 2012 to evaluate the actual nutritional facts on the product. The carbohydrate counts were off by 10 grams, 43 percent higher, and the bread contained just half of the fiber and protein that Julian Bakery claimed. That’s when she decided to create two websites JulianBakeryInfo.com and Low-Carb-Scams.com to further expose the lies and deception that Julian Bakery has engaged in preying on unsuspecting low-carb dieters (Heath even had the gall to file a defamation lawsuit against Deborah in 2013, but then dropped it when he realized his bullying tactics to get her to back down on exposing his company weren’t going to work). In 2013, Dr. Eenfeldt said it’s time to give Julian Bakery what they deserve by leaving comments about the company at Yelp. The 100+ reviews are less than flattering about Heath’s bread company.
Now here we are in 2014 and the same old song and dance tactics from Julian Bakery have continued on with the FDA’s Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations department getting in on the action by conducting their own tests looking at the nutritional claims of the Net Carb Zero Bread and Paleo Bread products. According to the July 23, 2014 warning letter send to Julian Bakery, the company is in “significant violations” in their labeling. Here are those issues that the FDA says needs “prompt action to correct” or face more severe consequences:
1. Your Net Carb Zero Bread product is misbranded under Section 403(a)(1) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(a)(1)] in that the label is false or misleading because the calorie content is greater than 20 percent in excess of the value for calories declared on the label [see 21 CFR 101.9(g)(5)]. Your label states the product contains 35 calories per serving size of 43 grams. However, FDA’s analysis found your product contained 54.4 calories per serving, which is 155% of the amount declared on the label. A check analysis found 53.1 and 57.7 calories per serving, which is 152% and 165% respectively, of the amount declared on the label.
2. Your Net Carb Zero Bread product is misbranded under Section 403(a)(1) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(a)(1)] in that the label is false or misleading because the total fat content is lower than the amount declared on the label and this deficiency is not within current good manufacturing practices [see 21 CFR 101.9(g)(6)]. Your label states the total fat contained in the product is 2.5 grams per serving size of 43 grams. However, FDA’s analysis found your product contained 0.72 grams per serving, which is 28.7% of the amount declared on the label. A check analysis found 0.69 grams per serving, which is 27.6% of the amount declared on the label.
3. Your Net Carb Zero Bread product is misbranded under Section 403(a)(1) of the Act in that the label is false or misleading because the label declares “0g Net Carbs,” but this statement is inconsistent with the nutrition information for carbohydrates on your product label as well as your stated definition for the term “Net Carbs” on the product label. Your label defines “Net Carbs” as follows: “Net Carbs: Subtract Fiber from Total Carbohydrates.” According to your product label, the quantity of Total Carbohydrates is 9g and the quantity of Dietary Fiber is 9g, however, the Sugars declaration on your label is 1 gram. Therefore, in accordance with your declaration for Sugars on your product label, the quantity of Total Carbohydrate for your product is actually 10 grams, which is inconsistent with your “0g Net Carbs” statement.
4. Your Paleo Bread product is misbranded within the meaning of Section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(r)(l)(A)] because the labeling bears a nutrient content claim, but does not meet the requirements to make the claim. Under Section 403(r)(l)(A) of the Act, a claim that characterizes the level of a nutrient which is of the type required to be in the labeling of food must be made in accordance with a regulation authorizing the use of such a claim. Characterizing the level of a nutrient in the food labeling of a product without complying with the specific requirements pertaining to nutrient content claims for that nutrient misbrands the product under Section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act.
Furthermore, the FDA says the “high protein” claims on the Julian Bakery website fail to “meet the criteria to bear this claim” which requires the product to have at least 20 percent of the daily value for protein intake. But Heath claims all of these problems with his company’s labeling are a thing of the past and not still happening today–but this FDA investigation proves otherwise. Interestingly, in July 2013 Heath attempted to make nice with me and Deborah in an interview on Gary Collins’ “Primal Power Method” blog where he stated that he was “thankful” for us taking him to task about his errant nutritional labels and that he has “respect” for our efforts to keep companies like his honest–CHECK IT OUT:
But that desire for people like me and Deborah to “take us to task” apparently didn’t last long since Heath Squier and his company Julian Bakery have continued to show themselves to have a pattern of being less than truthful about the nutritional content of their products with these brand new violations in 2014. And if you try to question them about their breads on the Julian Bakery Facebook page, your comment is immediately deleted and you’re banned from posting on their page. If it looks, acts, and quacks like a duck, then…well, you know.
What saddens me the most is how their Paleo bread and wraps have been so prominently advertised on the back cover of Paleo Magazine for most of the past year under an “front” website for Julian Bakery called PaleoInc.com, but the owners of the magazine are currently looking into this to decide whether they will continue accepting them as a sponsor or not. I trust the right thing will happen when all is said and done and that these fraudulent products will no longer be marketed to the low-carb and Paleo community.
In the meantime, NOBODY in the greater health community should be giving this company another red cent of their hard-earned money since they have lost the public trust with their repeated dishonesty. When I posted the FDA letter on Facebook, I immediately got inundated with stories of people who experienced bad customer service such as moldy bread and a refusal by the company to make things right. This is no way to run a business and it’s only a matter of time before these past sins catch up to Julian Bakery. There’s a lot to be said for how you treat your customers and the following e-mail I received from a concerned reader epitomizes the typical experience I have heard from so many people about them:
I ordered from Julian Bakery when they first opened and got my bread 3 weeks later and totally MOLDY. When I attempted to call the company to ask for a refund or a replacement order, there was no response from them at all! I’ve done my best to inform clients about them, but you reach such a huge audience. Keep exposing them for their shoddy business practices.
On a lighter note, if you haven’t seen this 2012 video by a Julian Bakery customer, it’s been viewed by nearly a half million people and you’ll quickly discover why. ENJOY!
Sponge or Bread (This Can’t be Healthy) – Julian Bakery
Before I finish this post, I wanted to share that I was not necessarily going to blog about this. I was simply going to share about the FDA warning letter with the new violations on my social media pages and let that be enough. But when I did this a few days ago, it sent Heath on a tirade at his Twitter account where he proceeded to personally berate and attack me (with piling on from the usual anti-Jimmy Moore suspects) for hours upon hours with posts like this:
THE BOTTOM LINE: I have no use for lying liars who lie again and again and then lash out when someone calls them on it. The arrogance and defiance of this immature young man will catch up to him someday and he’ll certainly get what’s coming to him. Hopefully he’ll grow up, act responsibly, and stop making health claims about his Julian Bakery breads that are completely bogus for people on a low-carb or Paleo diet. I’m not holding my breath, but we won’t get fooled again.
JUST EAT REAL FOOD!
8-27-14 UPDATE: This is the kind of lashing out at me personally that I’m referring to in this post. Heath is mad at me for sharing about these new violations that were found again. It’s a habitual problem that is being done over and over and over again. If you want to see their whining and personal attacks against me (about how I look):
There’s only one problem–Heath has never been 410 pounds and thinks it’s only about calories. Interestingly, the other guy–Gary Collins–is one of the people who submitted a recipe for my book Keto Clarity. Hmmmm. Gary complains that I eat a “whole stick of butter” with every meal, but that’s not how I eat. It’s interesting how much is assumed about me by these guys I’ve never met.
9-2-14 UPDATE: Leave it to my bud Tom Naughton to set the record straight on people who attempt to lie and deceive. You’ve gotta read his post about all this called The Julian Bread People And Their Half-Baked Claims. ENJOY!