Gluten free labeling can be confusing.
I feel like I should be a black belt at reading labels. I have done this for a long time. Since I have had some light shed on the subject of gluten free labeling recently, I thought I should do some research. Gluten free on a label does not always mean gluten free. Gluten free labeling can be confusing especially when you are first starting out becoming gluten free. The diagnosis of Celiac disease can make you feel afraid to eat anything. Hopefully this will help explain what the differences are in gluten free labeling.
The FDA– in 2015 the FDA made a rule that all foods labeled gluten free must contain less than 20 PPM (parts per million) of gluten. Here is a link to everything they have to say about gf. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm362880.htm
NSF- The Public Health and Safety Organization– They have the same standard of 20 PPM as the FDA does. This is taken directly from their website “It’s important to look for a certified gluten-free seal issued by a third-party organization, such as NSF International, which shows that companies have the right processes in place to prevent gluten contamination and to consistently stay below 20 ppm gluten. To earn gluten-free certification under NSF’s program, companies must have a gluten-free compliance plan and undergo on-site inspections of their production and handling facilities in addition to annual product testing. This assures consumers that the food contains less than 20 ppm gluten and that it has gone through a supply chain free of gluten.”
Gluten Intolerance Group– Their certified gluten free label is recognizable world wide. They are stricter than the FDA. The require companies to be less than 10 PPM gluten. This is from their website:
GFCO requires that all finished products using the GFCO Logo contain 10ppm or less of gluten.
All ingredients utilized in GFCO certified products are required to go through a stringent review process of approval. All ingredients must contain 10ppm or less of gluten.
Barley-based ingredients are not allowed in GFCO certified products
GFCO requires ongoing testing of finished products and high-risk raw materials and equipment.
All manufacturing plants producing GFCO certified products undergo, at minimum, an annual inspection and are required to submit finished product testing on a regular basis for the GFCO for review.
Compliance with all government regulations for allergens, gluten-free labeling and Good Manufacturing Practices is required.
GFCO is not a substitution for meeting the legal requirements set by a government.
GFCO standard is stricter than Codex, USA, Canada, the EU and many other country standards for labeling products gluten-free.
Celiac Support Association- They are strict and only allow less than 5 PPM of gluten to any product carrying their stamp of approval. This is from their website:
CSA Recognition Seal products are tested using the most sensitive ELISA and other relevant validated tests available in the United States. ELISA testing must show a product is at less than 5 ppm — additional verification testing may be required depending upon the type of food. Testing validates the commitment of the gluten-free producer. Companies must submit the analysis of ingredients and manufacturing procedures (HACCP) to assure the products meet the requirements for the CSA Recognition Seal.
As consumers we can be picky about what we buy. I know that I am more likely to support packaged food and products that have gone through testing to ensure they are gluten free than companies that use the gluten free label and maybe aren’t as strict. I have found low gluten in products that are labeled gluten free (20ppm) using my Nima sensor. I have even found low gluten in products that are certified gluten free(10 ppm). I contacted the Gluten Intolerance Group about it and they were wonderful. I sent them the food for further testing and they promised to figure out where the gluten was coming from. I have had companies that are FDA gluten free be very nasty when I told them about finding low gluten. SO sad considering they are causing people with Celiac disease to have reactions, even if it is small it is still doing damage.
The good news is, it is getting better in the packaged food realm. When I fist started out in the newly diagnosed world of Celiac it was scary and hard to know if what I was eating really was gluten free. Thankfully God gave us fruit, veggies, fish and meat that is naturally gluten free. Most people feel better eating less packaged foods anyway, including myself.