Celiac.com 02/06/2012 - Coeliac UK, Britain's leading celiac disease organization has finalized an agreement for all European countries to use a single universal gluten-free symbol on the front of all packaging for gluten-free products.
Under the agreement, the Association of European Coeliac Societies will adopt Coeliac UK’s ‘cross-grain’ symbol as the standard for gluten-free labeling across Europe.
The overall goal is to establish the logo as the universal quality assurance symbol for gluten-free products.
Coeliac UK's chief executive, Sarah Sleet, told British Baker that the “…European-wide agreement to share the symbol and its quality assurance measures…has huge potential as the commonly-used symbol on packs, because all coeliac consumers recognize it."
She noted that, in the UK, while her organization has licensed the symbol to grocery chains like Warburtons, many supermarkets have simply created their own symbols. This has left many consumers confused about standards of quality and reliability regarding gluten-free products.
Sleet feels that the agreement to establish a standard European labeling symbol for gluten-free products may help to end that confusion.
“My colleagues in Europe are getting a lot of interest from big players like Carrefour and the German discounters, who are looking to take up that symbol license," she says. "That may put pressure on supermarkets in the UK to adopt it too.”
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, editor of gluten-free information website Foodmatters, agrees. “I think it would be hugely beneficial for consumers if there could be some agreement about logos," she says. "The current situation is both confusing and potentially dangerous for those with health issues.”
Per capita, the UK has the highest percentage of consumers who avoid gluten. According to data from Kantar Worldpanel data (52 w/e 4 September, 2011), the total UK gluten and wheat-free market is now worth £135.9m, with sales soaring 15.5% annually into the foreseeable future.
Gluten-free consumers, surveyed by McCallum Layton in 2011,
voiced strong support for a universal industry-wide symbol. In that survey, many interviewees complained of varied and confusing symbols, and of product labels that required careful study.
A survey of attendees at The Allergy & Gluten-Free Show 2011 revealed that 80% of people found ‘free-from’ symbols to be helpful, while 85% preferred to see specific logos, such as 'gluten-free,' placed on the front of product packages.
How will European progress toward uniform labeling symbols for gluten-free products impact us here in America? Could we benefit from standards for 'gluten-free'