The demand for gluten-free products is on the rise in the US and Europe, meaning manufacturers need to be sure their products are safe for consumers. SGS is the only global independent certification body offering a choice of “gluten-free” certification schemes to manufacturers working in the growing “gluten-free” market around the world.
SGS is accredited to provide:
• Crossed Grain Symbol Gluten-Free Product Certification – product has 20 mg/km (ppm) or less of gluten
• Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) – product has 10 ppm or less of gluten and does not contain barley-based ingredients
• Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) – product has 20 ppm or less of gluten
With no standardized approach to “gluten-free” manufacturers must be aware of the different approaches taken by these certification schemes. For example, the crossed grain symbol scheme requires audits for the manufacturing facilities and testing of the finished product, whereas, GFCO requires ongoing testing of products and equipment and an annual audit.
Manufacturers also need to consider the target market for their product, as this may well affect their decision concerning which scheme to undertake. For example, a company marketing to European countries may decide to use the crossed grain scheme because it is administered by the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS). Suppliers in North America may decide to choose between GFCO, the most popular scheme in the US, and GFCP, endorsed by the North American coeliac organization.
Gluten-intolerance and coeliac disease are on the rise in the US and Europe, creating greater demand for “gluten-free” products. By 2020, “gluten-free” is projected to be worth USD 7.59 billion globally. For manufacturers and consumers, however, there is confusion over what “gluten-free” actually means. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows a gluten limit of fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods labeled “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten”, and does allow oats.
Canada, however, does not allow oats and, again, gluten must not exceed 20ppm. The Codex Alimentarius, used in many markets and mirrored in EU regulations, also uses 20ppm and prohibits oats but has added a “very low gluten” certification for products below 100ppm but above 20ppm.
Without a clear global definition of “gluten-free”, stakeholders need to be aware of the different options open to them when planning to define their products as “gluten-free”. They need to be sure they have an effective written allergen management plan, which is regularly reviewed to guarantee continuous compliance. They also need to make sure all staff undergo and implement specific training strategies related to allergens. Allergen risk management, including the risk of gluten contamination, should be integrated into the overall food safety management system, fully supported by good manufacturing practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs.
With a global network of laboratories and specialists, SGS has the expertise to help manufacturers adopt the best certification scheme for their products, and introduce and maintain effective “gluten-free” risk management policies. They offer a range of food safety solutions, including gap analysis and audit pre-assessment, certification, customized audits, testing, and training.