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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Gluten-Free Food Certification Program by the Gluten Intolerance Group

    Celiac.com 09/01/2005 - The Gluten Intolerance Group® is pleased to announce our gluten-free food certification program, the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), the first program of its kind in the world! This new independent food processing inspection program will verify that food products meet the highest standards for gluten-free ingredients and a safe processing environment. Food products meeting these high standards will receive our gluten-free certification mark, allowing gluten-free consumers to easily identify foods that are free of gluten and possible cross-contamination from gluten.

    Key elements of the GFCO process include:
    • Ingredients review, down to the original supplier
    • Onsite inspections by experienced, trained independent (third party) Field Inspection Agents
    • Product and ingredient testing using scientifically AOAC approved testing methods
    • GFCO certification mark located on product packages for easy identification


    Gluten-free you can easily see
    Products labeled with the gluten-free certification mark allow consumers to easily identify products that have been independently verified to meet the highest standards for gluten-free ingredients and safe processing environment.

    First major food companies to adopt GFCO supervision and labeling Enjoy Life Foods and PureFit Nutrition Bar are the first food manufacturers to join the GFCO supervision program. These pioneering companies will display the gluten-free certification mark on their food products in the near future.

    GFCO maintains a system of independent verification through plant visits to assure that there have been no changes that might compromise its gluten-free status. GFCO certification uses the highest standards for gluten-free ingredients and safe processing environment, and cannot be altered or compromised. The GFCO certification standards exceed the requirements of current government laws and regulations. The voluntary participation of companies in this program will ensure public confidence in the gluten-free status of their products.

    The GFCO was developed in cooperation with the Food Services, Inc., a subsidiary of the Orthodox Union (the "OU"), the worlds largest and oldest kosher certification agency. The OUs nearly 500 field representatives, proficient in modern food production techniques and chemical and biological processes, will conduct plant inspections and product reviews for the GFCO. Like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the logo, one of the worlds best-known trademarks, instills confidence in the purchaser that the product has passed inspection and meets high quality standards. For more information visit: http://www.oukosher.org.

    The Gluten-Free Certification Organizations (GFCO) mission is to provide an independent service to supervise gluten-free food production according to a consistent, defined, science-based standard, that is confirmed by field inspections, in order to achieve heightened consumer confidence and safety. GFCO is governed by an independent volunteer board that includes physicians, food scientists and consumers. For more information visit: http://www.gfco.org, or call 206-246-6652.

    The Gluten Intolerance Group® (GIG)s mission is to increase awareness by providing accurate, up-to-date information, education and support for those with gluten intolerance, celiac disease/dermatitis herpetiformis, their families, health care professionals and the general public. GIGs volunteers, staff, and Board are knowledgeable, and our materials and resources are credible. GIGs Medical Advisory Board approves all education materials. For more information visit: http://www.gluten.net.



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    I have a wheat intolerance, so anything that is marked properly is a great help, there are too many things out at the stores that are improperly marked and are dangerous! Shoppers need to know.

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    We are working on trying to get our products certified as gluten free, this article had all the information that I was looking for. Thank you so much.

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    I am interested in starting up a gluten free business venture, can anyone tell me what steps I need to take in order to get certified? Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated!

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  • About Me

    In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I founded The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 05/25/2004 - On April 27, 2004, for the first time, individuals with Celiac Disease testified before a Congressional Committee.
    Lisa Murphy, and her son, Colin, represented the ACTF before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education. They did an outstanding job outlining what celiac disease is, who it affects, the need for NIDDK to develop a research plan for celiac disease, as well as the need for greater physician and patient education (The Murphy family, of Chappaqua, NY, was featured in a Feb. 2004 Parents magazine article about celiac disease).
    The Labor-HHS Subcommittee determines how much money NIH receives each year. Having individuals with Celiac Disease provide information about the disease is critical to securing funding for research.
    After hearing the testimony, Subcommittee Chairman, Ralph Regula (R-OH), asked if food labels were a problem for celiacs. Not missing a beat, Lisa offered an emphatic, Yes, then highlighted problems she has encountered. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), sponsor of H.R. 3684, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, and member of the Subcommittee, explained the bill was drafted to help individuals like Lisa, and Colin.
    The celiac community has waited a very long time for this incredible opportunity.
    The American Celiac Task Force is grateful to the entire Murphy family for graciously agreeing toshare their story, and for helping to make this historic day possible.
    Allison Herwitt
    Co-Chair, Legislative Project
    American Celiac Task Force

    Melanie Weir
    Celiac.com 01/30/2012 - Over the last decade, many companies are adding labels to their products like: "gluten-free," "low gluten," "no gluten," "no gluten ingredients used," "naturally gluten-free" and "celiac friendly."  To many celiacs and individuals with gluten intolerance, the idea of companies labeling products without gluten is refreshing.  To experts on celiac disease and gluten intolerance, the gluten labeling currently happening in the United States is frightening. 
    United States versus Other Countries' Gluten Free Labeling Laws
    Many countries diligently regulate gluten-free labeling.  A few months ago, an exchange student from Italy stopped by our Gluten Free Specialty Market and told me that she was horrified by the gluten-free labeling laws in the United States.  For the first time in her life, she was being contaminated by products that weren’t safe for her to eat.  After purchasing bakery products that were manufactured in a non-dedicated gluten-free environment, she became deathly ill for more than a week and told me she was only just starting to feel like she could travel more than a few steps from the nearest restroom.  “I’m afraid to eat anywhere,” she told me, “Every time I eat out in this country, I get sick.  I can’t wait to be home where I don’t have to worry like this.”
    This is not the first or even the 100th time I’ve heard a story like this.  For 4 years, I have heard story after story of individuals eating what appeared to be a ‘gluten-free’ product and getting violently ill.  So what does gluten-free mean?
    What Does Gluten Free Mean?
    According to the FDA, as of September 2011, gluten-free labeled products should (a) not include ingredients from gluten or gluten derivatives and ( maintain a status of less than 20ppm of gluten for all gluten-free labeled products.  For more information about the FDA’s Gluten Free Food Labeling Request, go to:
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/FoodAllergensLabeling/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm111487.htm#q9
    Though many companies try to follow the FDA's current gluten-free recommendation, mistakes are often made.  In food manufacturing, companies are driven by supply and demand.  Right now, the supply of gluten-free product options is low and the demand for gluten-free products is high.  For this reason, companies are jumping on the band wagon trying to produce options to fill the demand.  Some companies are started by an individual that is gluten intolerant, gluten allergic or has celiac disease.  Other companies are producing gluten-free products solely for profit.  While companies do their best to provide gluten-free products to the public, they often don’t understand what gluten-free actually means.
    Common Mistakes Made by Product Manufacturers
    While product manufacturers are trying to produce safe products, mistakes are often made.  Most mistakes occur due to lack of education regarding what "gluten-free" really means and what it takes to prevent cross-contamination.
    The Product is Gluten Free Enough for Me 
    Many gluten free products are created by individuals that have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy.  Many of these products are made to be safe enough for the individual that made the product.  This is a problem because, experts like Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Stanford Celiac Center, estimate that only 1% of the population diagnosed with celiac disease is aware that they are being contaminated.  In other words, contamination may be affecting the health of an individual with celiac, even when they are not experiencing blatant symptoms. 
    Example 1:
    A brownie company produced their product in a facility that also produced regular gluten products.  The company is asked if they test their products for gluten, and they answer, "no, we don’t need to.  If the product wasn’t gluten-free someone would have let us know by now.  We’ve been in business for 4 years."
    Example 2:
    A pie company reports that their product is "celiac safe," and the company reports that they use a flour that tests above the safe range of 20ppm and the pies are made in a facility that produces gluten.  Research presented by the Celiac Sprue Association has shown that facilities that use gluten flours generally create products that contain gluten.
    Heterogeneous Mixtures Versus Homogeneous Mixtures
    This problem sometimes happens when gluten-free companies are trying to keep the price down on their products.  Flours produced in facilities that produce gluten are often times cheaper than flours produced in dedicated facilities and tested on import and export.  Companies often believe that when you mix one flour that’s above 20ppm with another flour that’s non-detectable at 5 or 10ppm, then the outcome of the flour blend will be below 20ppm.  This is not true because flour mixtures are not homogenous, they are heterogenous.  In other words, if you have a chocolate chip size morsel of gluten in one bag of flour, even if you mix it with a another flour that doesn’t have any gluten in it, the morsel of gluten still exists.  Therefore, the flour is not gluten-free.
    Example 1:
    Customers were reporting contamination after consuming a specific product from a gluten-free bakery.  The facility was visited and it was found that both flours and corn meal were being made in facilities that produce gluten.  Additionally, those facilities had reported that their flours routinely test above the safety zone of 20ppm.  When the bakery was questioned about the flours, it was reported that they knew that some of their flours were above 20ppm but they didn’t use very much of them in the flour blend so it shouldn’t matter.
    If a Product Contains Gluten, it Contains Gluten
    If you put gluten in a product, it contains gluten.  If your tests show results below 20ppm, they (1) might be read or performed inaccurately, (2) multiple samples could result in discrepancies (in other words, some samples may show higher than 20ppm and others lower).
    Example:
    A barbecue sauce has gluten as an ingredient and states "gluten free*" on their product label.  At the bottom of the label the product states: "*tested below 20ppm for gluten."  Though the end product might test as non-detectable, the product still contains gluten and should not be labeled gluten free.
    Manufacturer Produces Gluten, but the Product has "No Gluten Ingredients Used" on the Label
    Many manufacturers produce both gluten-containing and non-gluten containing products in their facilities.  When a product is produced on machinery that produces gluten or in a facility that has flour dust in the air, the product should be tested for its gluten status before it is labeled gluten-free.
    Example 1:
    A clam chowder company labels it’s product as gluten-free and reports that the soup is gluten-free.  Then later reports that wheat flour is used in other soups they make and that there is no allergen sterilization that occurs between the soup with wheat flour and the clam chowder without wheat flour.  The company does not test for gluten status, but decides to label their soups as gluten free anyway.  It is very possible that the soup will not test below 20ppm.
    Example 2:
    A flour company produces flours that appear to be gluten-free, but the flours are made in a facility that produces gluten-containing flours and are produced on equipment  with gluten and exposed to gluten flour dust from the air.  To cut back on the amount of gluten in their product, the company throws away the initial batches of flour and only keeps later batches.  The later batches on average test around 30-35ppm.  The flour is not labeled as gluten-free, nor does it state on the label made in a facility that produces gluten.
    Labeling Mishaps
    Lawyers often recommend that products not be recalled even when a gluten-free labeled product is determined to contain gluten. 
    Example 1:
    Wellshire Farms products were sold with a gluten-free label despite having tests showing a ppm reading far above 20ppm.
    Example 2:
    A chocolate fitness bar was certified to be below 20ppm.  The ingredients changed and wheat starch was added instead of corn starch.  The starch was listed on the ingredients as “starch” and the product was labeled as “gluten-free” and noted to be tested below 20ppm. 
    The Product is "Naturally Gluten-Free"
    Oftentimes, companies report that their product is gluten-free, because they use naturally gluten-free ingredients.  The problem with this statement is that even a naturally gluten-free ingredient can become contaminated with gluten through production, storage or shipment.
    Example 1:
    A chia beverage company reports on their label that their product is naturally gluten-free.  When informed that chia is often cross-contaminated with gluten, the company stated that "our chia tests at 30ppm, but since chia is naturally gluten-free they can still place gluten-free on their label."
    Example 2:
    To protect their consumers, Kettle Cuisine soups tests "naturally gluten-free" ingredients before using them in their manufactured products.  More than once their cumin and coriander tested above 20ppm, and Morjoram tested above 5ppm.  As a side note the company reports that they have had no problems with their current supplier of organic spices.  So far, the organic spices have been consistently testing below 5ppm.  Like many companies attempting the safest standards possible for their customers, Kettle cuisine requires that both the ingredients going into their product and the final product test below 5ppm.  This allows even the most sensitive of gluten reactors to feel safe consuming their products.
    Many gluten-free product manufacturers regularly test their ingredients for gluten status.  Naturally gluten-free products that should always be double checked for their parts per million (ppm) status include: vinegar, chia seed, hemp seed, oats, buckwheat, spices, produce stored with flour, flours or grains made in a facility producing gluten, B vitamins, E vitamins, modified food starch (should be listed as wheat if from wheat, but this doesn’t always happen).
    Offering Safe Gluten-Free Options to the Community
    At the Gluten Free Specialty Market in Sacramento, California we work hard to educate the community and manufacturing companies regarding the need for safe products.  Local companies often ask us for information on how to provide safe gluten-free options.  Nachez, a dairy free and vegan Nacho cheese sauce, contacted us last year while setting up the manufacturing of their cheese sauce.  After speaking with us, it was decided that the product would be produced by a company that regularly batch tests the product to be below 20ppm.  It is very empowering to feel like we, as a market, are activists for the health and wellness of our customers.
    In the past four years we have learned vast amounts of information on the manufacturing of gluten-free products throughout the United States.  In 2012, we hope to press local legislators to help us do this by creating a gluten-free labeling standard for California.  We hope that if the FDA doesn’t pass a gluten-free labeling law in the next year, California will pass a state law to help protect us.  In the meantime, we continue to drill gluten-free manufacturers on their products and do our best to provide the safest gluten-free options to our customers.


    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 08/05/2013 - People with celiac disease can now have confidence in the meaning of a "gluten-free" label on foods.
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule that defines what characteristics a food has to have to bear a label that proclaims it "gluten- free." The rule also holds foods labeled "without gluten," "free of gluten," and "no gluten" to the same standard.
    This rule has been eagerly awaited by advocates for people with celiac disease, who face potentially life-threatening illnesses if they eat the gluten found in breads, cakes, cereals, pastas and many other foods.
    As one of the criteria for using the claim "gluten-free," FDA is setting a gluten limit of less than 20 ppm (parts per million) in foods that carry this label. This is the lowest level that can be consistently detected in foods using valid scientific analytical tools. Also, most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. This level is consistent with those set by other countries and international bodies that set food safety standards.
    "This standard 'gluten-free' definition will eliminate uncertainty about how food producers label their products and will assure people with celiac disease that foods labeled 'gluten-free' meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA," says Michael R. Taylor, J.D., deputy FDA commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
    Andrea Levario, executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, notes that there is no cure for celiac disease and the only way to manage the disease is dietary—not eating gluten. Without a legal definition of "gluten-free," these consumers could never really be sure if their body would tolerate a food with that label, she adds.
    "This is a tool that has been desperately needed," Levario says. "It keeps food safe for this population, gives them the tools they need to manage their health, and obviously has long-term benefits for them."
    "Without proper food labeling regulation, celiac patients cannot know what the words 'gluten free' mean when they see them on a food label," says Allessio Fasano, M.D., director of the Center for Celiac Research at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, visiting professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and member of the American Celiac Disease Alliance.
    What Is Gluten?
    Gluten means the proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains.
    As many as 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease. It occurs when the body's natural defense system reacts to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. Without a healthy intestinal lining, the body cannot absorb the nutrients it needs. Delayed growth and nutrient deficiencies can result and may lead to conditions such as anemia (a lower than normal number of red blood cells) and osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Other serious health problems may include diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease and intestinal cancers.
    Before the rule there were no federal standards or definitions for the food industry to use in labeling products "gluten-free." An estimated 5 percent of foods currently labeled "gluten-free" contain 20 ppm or more of gluten.
    How Does FDA Define 'Gluten-Free'?
    In addition to limiting the unavoidable presence of gluten to less than 20 ppm, FDA will allow manufacturers to label a food "gluten-free" if the food does not contain any of the following:
    An ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains; An ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten; An ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten. Foods such as bottled spring water, fruits and vegetables, and eggs can also be labeled "gluten-free" if they inherently don't have any gluten.
    The regulation will be published Aug. 5, 2013 in the Federal Register, and manufacturers have one year from the publication date to bring their labels into compliance. Taylor says he believes many foods labeled "gluten free" may be able to meet the new federal definition already. However, he adds, "We encourage the food industry to come into compliance with the rule as soon as possible."
    Under the new rule, a food label that bears the claim "gluten-free," as well as the claims "free of gluten," "without gluten," and "no gluten," but fails to meet the requirements of the rule would be considered misbranded and subject to regulatory action by FDA.
    Those who need to know with certainty that a food is gluten-free are heralding the arrival of this definition. "This is a huge victory for people with celiac disease," says Levario. "In fact, that's the understatement of the year."
    Says Taylor, "FDA's 'gluten-free' definition will help people make food choices with confidence."
    This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
    Source: August 2, 2013 - http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm363069.htm

    Jefferson Adams
    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.
    The 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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    Thanks Posterboy, that was interesting information.  I believe that I had read something elsewhere about tetracycline, at least, being used instead of, or along with, Dapsone for severe or refractory cases of DH. Unfortunately, even if I had medical insurance (which I do not), and had a regular doctor who was even willing to recognize and accept my condition for what it is, I don't know what kind of luck I would have in persuading that hypothetical doctor to give me a particular and non-sta
    Healthysquirrel,  Please have your doctor check your Vitamin D level!   Vitamin D deficiency is related to vertigo https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27386060 Vitamin D can help with high IgE https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5263170/ Low vitamin D and low ferritin are tied https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29385099 Dry eye problems including blepharitis can be helped with vitamin d and vitamin a https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles
    He's still going to have to eat gluten even for an endoscopic biopsy. 2 weeks minimum. Plus guidelines say no dx on an endoscopic biopsy alone - you have to have the positive blood to go with it. Even that 2 weeks will deposit more antibodies under his skin if he's got dh.  Let me put it this way. The gut damage is the gut damage & if he's celiac & it sounds like he is but we don't have labs to prove it, then there is a treatment for it. Only 1 treatment for it. A very strict gluten
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