Gluten free travelling and wondering what kind of gluten free labelling legislation the country you’re visiting has? You’ve come to the right place. Gluten free labelling differs hugely depending on where you are in the world so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with before you go somewhere. When you’re celiac you can’t simply rely on looking for products labelled as ‘gluten free’. You must first find out what that means where you are. In some countries there is legislation to prevent companies labelling their products as gluten free unless they fulfill high safety standards. Other countries however are free to label products with ‘gluten free’ without fulfilling any standard at all.
The European Union uses Codex Alimentarius as the standard for gluten free labelling. At the beginning of this year, January 2012, much anticipated new legislation came into effect. This new labelling law was first published in January 2009 but just became mandatory this year.
In supermarkets you will now find two categories of gluten free labelling, ‘gluten free’ and ‘very low gluten’. Only products which contain less than 20ppm can be labelled with ‘gluten free’. Products containing between 21 and 100ppm will be labelled as ‘very low gluten’. The later may be suitable for those people with gluten intolerance or some celiacs.
The United States
UPDATE: As of August, 2014, the FDA have finally issued a regulation of what the term “gluten-free” means. Like Europe, products can no longer be labelled as “gluten-free” unless they contain less than 20ppm.
The USA is extremely behind when it comes to gluten free labelling legislation. The gluten free community are rallying to get theÂ FDA to understand the importance and need for regulated gluten free labelling but for now celiacs in the US are left to guess which products are safe to consume. Whilst there is no country wide regulatory body companies can label products as ‘gluten free’ based on their own ideas of what that means. Some companies take this more seriously than others. There are various gluten free regulators and testers in the US which some companies use to produce products which are genuinely safe for celiacs. Some companies have 100% gluten free factories, some companies get their products tested to ensure they are under 20ppm and others get certified by theÂ GFO. Things are getting better and many companies are doing the right thing and ensuring their products labelled as ‘gluten free’ really are gluten free and safe for celiacs. We are still a law away however from ensuring celiacs are completely safe. For now we still have to call companies and look for gluten testing or certification even if a product is labelled with gluten free.
In CanadaÂ they have recently transitioned to new labelling legislation. Â Food allergen labeling laws, which were originally discussed back in 2008 and then announced in 2011, were made compulsory at the start of August 2012. Any products sold in Canada must now adhere to the new legislation meaning that nothing can be labeled gluten free unless â€œprepared under good manufacturing practices, which contain levels of gluten not exceeding 20 ppm as a result of cross-contamination, meet the health and safety intent of B.24.018 when a gluten-free claim is made.â€ Simply put, in Canada products cannot be labelled as gluten free unless they contain less than 20ppm of gluten.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia andÂ New Zealand have some of the most strict gluten free labelling legislation in the world. Products here cannot be labelled as gluten free unless there is ‘no detectable gluten’. What may sound a little strange is that a product can be labelled as gluten free even if it contains an ingredient from a gluten containing source such as glucose syrup or carmel colour derived from wheat. This is because when these ingredients are so highly processed there becomes no detectable source of gluten.
So if a product is labelled as ‘gluten free’ this overrides any references to possible gluten on the label such as ‘may contain wheat’.
In ArgentinaÂ a law was passed in 2009 to ensure celiacs can safely shop in Argentina. Products labelled as ‘sin gluten’ or sinÂ TACC’ must contain less than 10ppm of gluten. Not all companies are adhering to this at the moment but more and more companies are. Whilst living in Argentina I found a high number of products labelled as gluten free which made grocery shopping simple.
What’s gluten free labelling like where you are in the world?