Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gluten Free Labeling and the 20 ppm Standard

Q: Do you agree that gluten-free means that the product contains less than 20ppm of gluten, which the FDA has proposed but has not yet established as the threshold level for a gluten-free claim?

A: This is a very interesting question. And something that is hard for people to understand. Yes, gluten free technically means that it is less that 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten according to the standards that have been proposed. But some companies use the testing thresh hold as a way to label something that is NOT, in fact, gluten free as being gluten free. Alex got very sick from RICE DREAMS rice milk that is labeled gluten free but uses gluten in the processing. The old label listed barley, which contains gluten, as an ingredient. Then they tested the product and it was under the testable amount. They took barley off the label and labeled it gluten free but did not change the recipe. So I am very aware that things can be labeled gluten free but use traces of gluten containing grains in the processing. Some people with celiac don't recover, despite a gluten free diet, but I wonder if they are eating some food that contains gluten under this level--and is labeled "gluten free."

I think it is unethical to label something that contains gluten as gluten free just because you can. Instead, I would recommend that the companies work to actually make the product gluten free, rather than uses the FDA thresh hold as a marketing tool and risk making people sick.

Here is my post on how I discovered Rice Dreams contains gluten and is not actually gluten free...and an interesting letter from the company!

It reminds me of the "mercury free" vaccines which are manufactured with mercury and then the mercury is removed. You can't get all of the mercury out-but they still call it "mercury free." People would die if we did this with peanuts or a peanut allergy! If you are sensitive to gluten or mercury your immune system will react to these traces the same as it will react to a large amount. Once you are better or older and your immune system is more developed, you won't be as sensitive, but people who are trying to heal will get sick and they will not know why.

It is also similar to "caffeine-free" coffee which does have traces of caffeine.

Interestingly, in February 2009, Europe changed it's rules for labeling gluten free from 200 ppm to 20 ppm. which is a ten fold reductions in the amount of gluten that the food can contain in order to be considered gluten free.


Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

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Our Family Is His said...

Just a warning to your fellow readers, the exact same thing is true of their Almond Dream, which my gluten intolerant child has been living off of. I read this about Rice Dream and called the company. I was first told, "the label says gluten free, you can also read the ingredient list". I said, "I am not asking you what the label says, I am asking you if gluten products, such as wheat, barley, and so on, are used in the processing of Almond Dream Unsweetened Milk?" She said, "hold please" and came back in about 10 seconds saying, "yes, barley is used in the production of Almond Dream, it's content it 20 ppm, so that's gluten free". I told her, "that's not gluten free, that means it has a little gluten in it. I would just like to say that you, as a company, should note this on your box since many people can't tolerate even a drop of gluten in their diets. It can do a lot of harm to a person's body that has serious issues with gluten." She said, "uh, ok, thank you" and that was it. Nothing will change, but now I know I have been hurting my son's body because I believed gluten free meant free of gluten. Silly me.

I really should have known this with what I know about "thermisol-free" vaccines.

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Michelle said...

I just discovered your blog via a link from another GF blog I frequent. Our kids are GFCF, and mostly processed sugar free too. Appreciate you bringing awareness not only to the issues we face with our GFCF lifestyle, but also the dangers in vaccines. Personally, we can't help thinking our lives would be drastically different now had our oldest child not received the MMR vaccine at 15 months. Please keep up the great work. I'm so glad I've found your blog and already see a few recipes I'm going to try.

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