Crisp reply from Gary Lineker

Agony: Matthew Samuel

Agony: Matthew Samuel

Gary Lineker, the public face of Walkers Crisps, has sympathised with an observant Leeds Jewish family whose coeliac son can no longer eat the snack because of a legally enforced change in labelling.

The sports broadcaster told Debra Samuel that he could "understand the disappointment" that her son Matthew would no longer be able to eat Walkers Crisps. Mrs Samuel is spearheading a campaign to persuade Walkers to maintain its gluten-free labelling.

Mrs Samuel said: "We get a coeliacs guide - if it's not in the book we don't eat it unless it says gluten-free on the packet. Matthew can't just eat a crisp and see what happens."

Mr Lineker told her: "I know that Walkers has had a very loyal coeliac following for many years and the removal of the 'suitable for coeliac' label is naturally something they and I are also disappointed about". But he said that Walkers would have to alter its manufacturing process to conform to new regulations.

Sympathy: Gary Lineker

Sympathy: Gary Lineker

Up until recently, Walkers Crisps were labelled "suitable for coeliacs" and the ready salted and salt and vinegar varieties are certified kosher by the London Beth Din.

But under new regulations, from next year the crisps must contain much less gluten than at present to be able to carry the "suitable for coelics" tag. Walkers says it is not changing its recipe to accommodate the new regulation.

Mrs Samuel said Walkers Crisps were one of the only suitable kosher snacks her son Matthew could eat. The 14-year-old can suffer three and half days of agony if he eats anything with gluten.

Although he could still eat the crisps at present, if Walkers were later to change the recipe so they contained more gluten, there would be no way of knowing.

    Last updated: 1:46pm, July 21 2011