When you choose a gluten free item, how do you know whether it is safe for you as a coeliac?
Well… that’s a question I ask, you’re probably asking and all the friends and family of coeliacs and they themselves may be continuing to ask.
Right now, in Australia and New Zealand, the term ‘gluten free’ means ‘no detectable gluten‘, ‘no oats‘ and ‘no malt from gluten containing cereals‘. There is no ‘official’ definition for ‘soy-free’ or any other form of ‘allergy free’ labelling. The term ‘gluten free’ is defined under FSANZ Standard 1.2.8
In most European countries (including the UK), as of the beginning of 2012 it will mean “no more than 20ppm gluten“.
In Canada it means “no ingredient derived from wheat, including spelt and kamut, or oats, barley, rye or triticale“, however contamination of up to 20ppm is allowed.
In the USA, it currently means whatever the manufacturer wishes for it to mean. Hopefully by this time next year, they will implement a sound definition of what “gluten free” actually means.
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As can be seen from above, it is clear that the definition of what ‘gluten free’ means differs so much from country to country. Currently, here in Australia, the Coeliac Society is aiming to change the regulation so that instead of having a ‘no detectable gluten’ stance on gluten free labelling, contamination of up to ‘less than 20ppm gluten’ will be permitted.
This means that foods such as cereals made by brands such as Nature’s Path, that manufacture their products in North America, would qualify to be labelled as ‘gluten free, should the definition change’. Currently, as they’re likely to contain ‘detectable gluten’ (i.e. < approx. 2ppm gluten) they cannot be labelled as such. In fact, there is now even a warning below the ingredients list on these products that they ‘may contain traces of gluten‘. Yet in Canada, the UK and the USA, these same products are clearly marked ‘gluten free’ on the front of the packaging.
Coeliac Australia maintains that this will allow Australians following a gluten free diet to enjoy a greater amount of choice available from overseas products as well as allowing mainstream companies to be more comfortable in entering the gluten free marketplace.
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Currently, it seems that although the team at the Walter and Eliza Hall institute along with many other many other medical bodies support this notion, many appear to be in opposition of this, including Dr. Rodney Ford and a good substantial number of gluten free consumers as well. Coeliacs from other parts of the world
With ‘potentially useful’ other solutions for this condition (that I have posted about) currently available, attempting to alter the definition of ‘gluten free’ may eventually become a wasted task. Especially when it could be at the detriment to those with coeliac disease.
I’d like to stick with the definition of ‘no detectable gluten‘. How about you?