How free of gluten does a foodstuff have to be to be labelled ‘gluten free’?

If you’re following a gluten free diet you’ll be familiar with the gluten free label on foods. But how free of gluten is ‘gluten free’? Is it possible to have a product totally free of gluten?

Well, no.

In reality, foodstuffs labelled ‘gluten free’ do contain traces of gluten. But it’s in such tiny amounts it’s considered not harmful to a coeliac sufferer. For food to be labelled ‘gluten free’ it needs to have less than 20mg of gluten per kg. In other words 200 parts per million (ppm). (This applies in European Union countries only.)

Food products which contain between 20 and 100ppm can be labelled ‘very low gluten’ and these may suit sufferers who have less sensitivity to gluten. Or are able to eat gluten occasionally.

This two tier labelling system came into affect in January 2009 but manufactures have until January 2012 to comply with the law.

Don’t forget that some mainstream products like crisps (potato chips) and rice cakes are naturally gluten free although the manufacturer may not choose to label it as such. As always, remember to check the label!

Find out more about other gluten free foods.

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