The challenges of living with celiac disease or gluten intolerance/sensitivity can be an uphill struggle for the person living with it. With the right knowledge though about gluten free labeling, you and your family can feel more at peace.
Gluten Free Labeling
In 2013, the FDA submitted a document seeking legislation for gluten-free labeling. What we currently have is a system of voluntary reporting of gluten. Any product that has trace amounts of gluten equal to less that 20 parts per million (20ppm) are can be labeled as gluten-free.
While this is great news to finally have a standard for labeling gluten free products, in the case of a person who is highly sensitive to gluten, that trace amount can still be sufficient to trigger at least some symptoms.
So can you really trust gluten free labeling?
What to expect when you see “Gluten-Free” labels
You can expect the following truths on products with the label “gluten-free”:
- The product contains no more than the standard acceptable concentration of 20 parts per million (20 ppm).
- The product cannot contain wheat, barley, and/or any cross-bred ingredients that contain gluten. (Examples: spelt or Einkorn Wheat).
- There is an exception to this rule however–“acceptable” items that contain any form of processed wheat, barley, or rye “without” gluten. Some examples are wheat germ oil, wheat or barley grass, and barley-based enzymes.
We should also bear in mind that “gluten-free” on a product label refers only to the ingredients and not necessarily to the equipment that prepares or processes the ingredients. Potential for cross-contamination is still probable if manufacturers prepare gluten rich foods using the same equipment.
The “gluten-free” you see on a package label is an indicator that concentrations of gluten in that product will be very low; however, this means gluten is not necessarily 100% absent. For the highly sensitive individual, this may still be problematic.
If you are being conscientious in your efforts to live a gluten free life and are still experiencing some discomfort, the minute presence of gluten can be the culprit. Individual manufacturers should inform if they do regular testing of their product for minute traces of gluten.
Read: Hidden Sources of Gluten