We received a customer email asking about added sugars in our meals and wanted to clarify what exactly is meant when "sugar" shows up on our meal labels. Email posted below video. This is TGK President Melissa Hayes' response to the email.


ORIGINAL EMAIL:

"Hello,

I recently purchased a bulk box of 40 meals, and when I received it was quite disappointed to see that a large number of the meals I received (at least 6, it seems pointless to waste my time obtaining a complete count) contain unrefined cane sugar.

While I suppose your website technically states that all meals are free of processed sugar, I feel that it's a bit disingenuous to fall back on that as an excuse for including cane sugar--particularly given that all of the packaging I received states that meals have "no added sugar" when cane sugar, whether refined or unrefined, is clearly an added sugar. Unfortunately, I think I will likely not purchase from you again because of this issue--I know you're not able to accommodate special requests on the bulk boxes, but again, I'm quite disappointed that "no added sugars" would even necessitate a special request given your existing marketing and product placement.

Sincerely, (customer's name omitted for privacy)"


MELISSA'S RESPONSE:

"Hi (customer),

I am so sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but I wanted to have a very clear process in place before responding. Our Customer Service Team forwarded me your email and first and foremost I want to apologize for causing any frustration on your part. 

It is not our intention to confuse or frustrate our customers. I completely agree with your concerns and I am working to remedy it. We work so hard to source as perfectly as we can and it pains us when something slips through the cracks. As you can imagine, sourcing the way we do, keeping sugar out, preservatives, additives and all the unnecessary “stuff” that goes into most processed food is a full time job!  

We absolutely do NOT have a container of sugar of any kind in our kitchen. However, very occasionally we do use other products (such as Hickory Nut Gap bacon) that may contain a small amount in order to preserve, pickle, ferment, smoke, etc. The amount included is never enough to reach even ½ gram/serving (it takes a full gram to register per the Nutrition labeling requirements). Many times we have to make a judgment call. Would we prefer to use a farm that we KNOW has quality fed protein but adds a touch of sugar vs. a farm that does an okay job per our standards but not as perfectly as HNG (and does not add sugar). Knowing that, although we have to list the sugar – once the bacon is added to a recipe it is probably ½ of ½ of 1/16th of a serving of sugar. I am using generalities here, but you get the idea.

I did also notice that one of our KIC program meals had “sugar” outside of a parentheses in the list of a line of ingredients for our jerk seasoning. That was a typo on our part. Again, the impact of “sugar” on that meal is probably 1/45th of a gram. And, keep in mind, most times the “sugar” you see burns off in the cooking process; however, the company is still required to list the ingredient as it was present upon cooking.

I hope this sheds some light and I do want you to know I am not making excuses, rather trying to explain our process. I personally care quite a bit about the sugar that goes into my body as well as my family’s. We eat this food very frequently and I would not want any unnecessary sugar in my meals either.  

Again, I am very sorry for the oversight and we are in the process of updating our website to reflect the above. 

If I can answer any other questions or be of any service, please do not hesitate to contact me directly."


**It should also be noted that the cane sugar referenced was an ingredient in a jerk seasoning we used in one of our dishes. We are discontinuing use of that specific jerk rub moving forward. Any other sugar is either naturally occurring or used as a curing and preserving agent (HNG pasture-raised bacon, for instance), is less than 1g, and typically burns off during the cooking process. Additionally, as a USDA-inspected facility, we are required to include ALL ingredients no matter their origin or quantity. So curing agents, even if they burn off in the cooking process, must be listed. Even in trace amounts.