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Gluten-Free Labeling Regulations Worldwide: Not All Definitions are Equal!

by Kim Koeller and Robert La France

Previous Articles February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006

We have seen great improvement on a global basis over the past five years with regard to food labeling. These advances have been welcomed by the growing community of individuals impacted by celiac, food allergies, intolerances and specialized diets worldwide. When traveling at home and abroad, one must always be aware of the local labeling regulations. We have outlined some of the major global movements below to help you in your gluten-free travels around the world.

In 2002, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (formerly the Australia New Zealand Food Authority) declared that "all food labels will show the declarations of the presence of potential allergens in foods such as gluten, peanuts and other nuts, seafood, milk, wheat, eggs and soybeans. In addition, all foods containing genetically modified materials must be labeled as such."

In 2005, the European Union Directive on product labeling required manufacturers to identify 12 common food allergens including: celery, dairy, eggs, fish, gluten, mustard, peanuts, sesame seeds, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat, and their derivatives.

As of 1/1/2006, the US Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) went into effect. The presence of eight allergens including: dairy, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat are now declared on ingredient lists. However, those of us following a gluten-free diet in the U.S., have not had all of our concerns sufficiently addressed since wheat, and not gluten, is included in the current allergen labeling. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently developing a definition for the term "gluten-free," as there is currently no approved legislature for U.S. food manufacturers or consumers. Once approved, this will help U.S. consumers managing a gluten-free diet safely navigate grocery store aisles in search of safe foods, as well as restaurants and those in the hospitality industry understand and identify gluten-free ingredients.

Outside of the U.S., there are also differences in the definition of the term "gluten-free", and which foods are considered gluten-free. According to The Coeliac Society of Australia, "there are two types of foods suitable for those requiring a gluten-free diet:

Foods labeled gluten-free

Foods made for the general market which are gluten free by ingredient

To be labeled gluten-free in Australia and New Zealand, a food must contain "No Detectable Gluten


Long Island, NY

Double DQ1, subtype 6

We urge all doctors to take time to listen to your patients.. don't "isolate" symptoms but look at the whole spectrum. If a patient tells you s/he feels as if s/he's falling apart and "nothing seems to be working properly", chances are s/he's right!

"The calm river of your life approaches the rocky chute of the rapids - flow on through. You are the same water. The rocks cannot hurt you. Remember, now and then, that you are the water and not the boat. Flow on!

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