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Australian Celiacs Fight to Keep Tough Gluten-free Standards 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.

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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.

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10 Responses:

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said this on
06 Feb 2015 6:30:09 PM PDT
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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said this on
09 Feb 2015 9:30:01 AM PDT
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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said this on
09 Feb 2015 1:32:20 PM PDT
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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said this on
09 Feb 2015 2:05:20 PM PDT
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 GF, 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 GF 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 GF diet.

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said this on
09 Feb 2015 2:45:35 PM PDT
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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said this on
09 Feb 2015 9:15:29 PM PDT
I too believe they should hang tough - those of us who are extremely sensitive are better served by the stricter standard.

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said this on
10 Feb 2015 9:41:57 AM PDT
I fully agree that all the countries must meet up to the standards of Australia. As I dream of a day that I can travel and eat out without fear of falling sick.

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said this on
10 Feb 2015 4:42:49 PM PDT
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 GF products but opt for fresh, whole foods.

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said this on
05 May 2015 9:59:01 AM PDT
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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said this on
06 May 2015 2:30:43 PM PDT
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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All Activity Celiac Disease & Gluten-Free Diet Forum - All Activity

@cyclinglady thanks for checking in Restricted diet didn't do much. Still had some VA last time they checked. Heath still otherwise fine, so RCD remains unlikely. My sxs kick in lockstep with life stress, so that kind of points to some general IBS stuff on top of celiac disease. Very doubtful I'm getting any gluten in, but fingers crossed my system is just a little hyper-vigilant, as I ponder on this thread.

I have always noticed that the table wine in Europe is pretty damn good! I am a wine lover and so is my husband but he does like his Green's beer.

The reason they set the limit at 20ppms is that through scientific study, they have proven that the vast majority of people with Celiac Disease do not have an autoimmune reaction to amounts below is a safe limit for most. Also, just because that limit is set at 20ppms, does not mean that gluten-free products contain that amount of gluten. Testing for lower levels becomes more expensive with each increment down closer to 0-5ppms, which translates into higher priced products. Unless you eat a lot of processed gluten-free food, which can have a cumulative affect for some, most people do well with the 20ppm limit.

I'm in the Houston area so I'm assuming there are plenty of specialists around, though finding one that accepts my insurance might be hard. This might sound dumb, but do I search for a celiac specialist?? I'm so new to this and want to feel confident in what is/isn't wrong with my daughter. I'm with you on trusting the specialist to know the current research.

Hi VB Thats sounds like a good plan. Would it help to know that a frustrating experience in seeking diagnosis isn't unusual With your IGG result I'm sure a part of you is still wondering if they are right to exclude celiac. I know just how you feel as I too had a negative biopsy, but by then a gluten challenge had already established how severely it affected me. So I was convinced I would be found to be celiac and in a funny way disappointed not to get the 'official' stamp of approval. Testing isnt perfect, you've already learned of the incomplete celiac tests offered by some organisations and the biopsy itself can only see so much. If you react positively to the gluten free diet it may mean you're celiac but not yet showing damage in a place they've checked, or it may be that you're non celiac gluten sensitive, which is a label that for a different but perhaps related condition which has only recently been recognised and for which research is still very much underway. We may not be able to say which but the good news is all of your symptoms: were also mine and they all resolved with the gluten free diet. So don't despair, you may still have found your answer, it just may be a bit wordier than celiac! Keep a journal when you're on the diet, it may help you track down your own answers. Best of luck!