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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Australian Celiacs Fight to Keep Tough Gluten-free Standards

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 02/06/2015 - Australia is home to some of the most stringent gluten-free product standards in the world. Under current standards, all “gluten free" products sold in Australia must contain about three parts or fewer per million.

    Photo: CC--Pabak SarkarThe food industry would like the standard set at 20 parts per million, which would bring Australia into line with the United States, and the EU.

    Moreover, Coeliac Australia, a major celiac advocacy group, has suggested that Australia’s strict standards are becoming unworkable, as improved tests permit detection of smaller and smaller amounts of the gluten protein. The group has signaled an openness to the industry plan to lower the standards to 20ppm gluten content.

    Such a move would allow a much wider range of products to be sold in Australia as “gluten-free, ” but would potentially impact hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer from celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity, many of whom who fear it will save money for manufacturers while triggering severe illnesses in their population.

    The push to change the definition of "gluten free” is being driven by the food and grocery council, which includes major grocery chain Coles.

    Coles happens to be one of Coeliac Australia’s biggest sponsors.

    However, in the face of vociferous opposition to such changes, Coeliac Australia has backtracked from its initial support, and has announced that it will now review its position.

    What do you think? Is Australia’s gluten-free standard too tough? Will it be better to change the standard to match that of the U.S. and the E.U.? Or would it be better to change American and European standards to match Australia. Share your thoughts below.

    Read more at SMH.com.


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    I hope they hold tough. I feel the 20 ppm standard in the U.S. is not good enough for me. I find I have a slight celiac reaction (rash) going most of the time even though I eat only gluten free foods.

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    Definitely have US/Canada standards change to Australia's standards. As previously read in another article, and for those that have celiac ... 20ppm still has gluten and therefore bad for celiac ... 10ppm still has gluten and therefore bad for celiac. 3ppm still has gluten and therefore bad for Celiac.

     

    Yet again we see the standards of our health being at risk all for the convenience of an industry - in this case manufacturers. This is just as horrible as marking the packages May Contain just to be lazy/safe!! Keep Australia Safe!! Fix the standards in other countries to match!!

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    When I met with Dr. Rodney Ford of New Zealand in October 2012, he urged us to not accept the 20ppm gluten-free labeling standard. I am an extra sensitive celiac and ataxia and cannot consume food processed in a facility that processes wheat. I hope the Australians fight to keep 3ppm.

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    I am an Australian and have not traveled to US/EU since diagnosis 5 years ago. I do, however, live in another country where products are imported from both Australia/NZ and the US.

     

    Whilst I will purchase products from the US labelled as gluten-free, I still read the labels. To date, I have not had an adverse reaction. It is useful to note that Australians who are diagnosed with coeliac disease are told not to eat oats - so purchasing products from US/EU is more challenging as they may be labelled gluten-free but could still contain oats.

     

    In respect to whether it would be better for Australia to increase to 20ppm or for EU/US to change to Australian rules - I would suggest that consistency would be good, but the consistency would also need to consider whether oats are in or out of a gluten-free diet.

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    20ppm is obviously good enough for those eliminating gluten for general health purposes. For those with extreme gluten sensitivity this may well be 'not good enough'. Extensive testing of what levels are ok for everybody should surely be a prerequisite to legislating a standard (anywhere).

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    I do hope they hold out (and win) for the 3 ppm gluten levels. I feel that the 20 ppm standard is too high here (I am a very sensitive celiac). Our policy makers have the habit of lowering standards, whether it be for water contaminants, pesticides, et al. Never to our benefit. I rarely eat gluten-free products but opt for fresh, whole foods.

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    First, Australia should be the standard all the other countries should rise to meet. For those of you who can tolerate the 20ppm which I cannot, please remember that even though you might not be having visible symptoms, the damage could still be happening! Second, since when should standards be determined by the food industry? They already charge more just to say "gluten free" and now you've made it easier for them to not be careful when preparing "gluten free" foods.

    3) Would a food containing 20ppm of sugar be able to be labeled "sugar free"?

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    First, Australia should be the standard all the other countries should rise to meet. For those of you who can tolerate the 20ppm which I cannot, please remember that even though you might not be having visible symptoms, the damage could still be happening! Second, since when should standards be determined by the food industry? They already charge more just to say "gluten free" and now you've made it easier for them to not be careful when preparing "gluten free" foods.

    3) Would a food containing 20ppm of sugar be able to be labeled "sugar free"?

    You are making the mistake of assuming that the highest possible level of gluten allowed in foods, 20 ppm, is actually in those foods. This is not the case. Most gluten-free foods test well under this level, and yes, if a food contained only 20 ppm of sugar your would not be able to taste any sweetness, and it likely could easily be labelled "sugar free."

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    I think the U.S. and Europe should change their standards to match up with Australia's current standards. Just because a food is certified doesn't mean somebody with celiac disease won't get a glutened when they eat it. 20 ppm is too much for some people to tolerate, so that label isn't trustworthy. The FDA's standards are clearly set too low and need to be more stringent.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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