All you need to know about the words “gluten-free” or gluten-free on some foods.
A “gluten-free” product, to be defined as such, must contain a quantity of gluten less than 20 ppm. 20 ppm means “20 Parts Per Million” and corresponds to a concentration of 20 mg (of gluten) over 1 kg (of food). This threshold has been identified through scientific studies and adopted by legislations around the world to identify a food suitable for coeliacs. The term “gluten-free” is voluntary: any food of free trade and catering, so that companies or restaurateurs can guarantee the absence of gluten (gluten <20 ppm), can carry the words “gluten-free”. This means ensuring not only the absence of gluten or cereals containing gluten between the ingredients, but also the absence of potential sources of contamination throughout the production process.
The indication “gluten-free, specifically formulated for celiacs” or “gluten-free, specifically formulated for people intolerant to gluten”, becomes mandatory for products included in the National Register of gluten-free foods, which can be given to celiac through the NHS.
AND “CAN IT CONTAIN TRACES”?
“It may contain traces of …” is a voluntary wording used by companies to indicate a potential gluten presence due to accidental contamination, but it is important to underline that the legislation does not regulate this claim. The law in fact provides for the obligation to report gluten only if present as an ingredient, while it is not mandatory to declare the potential presence of gluten due to accidental contamination.
IS IT “PRODUCED IN A FACTORY THAT USES GLUTEN”?
The AIC does not approve the use of phrases such as “Produced in a factory that uses gluten” or “In the factory wheat flour can be used etc”: this word is inserted to protect the company from any cases of illness that may arise due to ingestion by allergic products of allergen-contaminated products. In reality, it is not significant: the mere presence of allergens in the production plant does not necessarily imply the risk of accidental presence of one of them in the finished product. These types of statements do not provide real information to the consumer, but only create alarmism and reduce access to food for people suffering from specific allergies or food intolerances.