How gluten free should gluten free be? - Gluten Free Guerr...

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How gluten free should gluten free be?


This is not as daft as it sounds because we can not measure zero gluten we can not guarantee that food is totally gf.

In my opinion gluten free should mean: made with naturally gf ingredients and in an environment that is free of contamination from glutinous grains. And I support these people: GIG because they have the same premise as me and get food outlets to test their products to below10ppm and then display the GIG logo of certification. Imagine how reassuring this sign must be to hungry coeliac.

I heard about Glutenzap being a zero gluten group so I emailed this person after I read that she is a chemist and gluten tests at home. I asked if she would give me some info to post in the UK. She kindly replied and said I see that you eat grains like rice and maize so I hope you are not one of those hypocritical bigots who claim that if it doesn't make them ill it must be gf. This is a link to her guide of safe foods for sensitive coeliac:

I am not recomending anyone take their diet to this extreme and I support GIG and their definition but it begs the question: where do we draw the line with gluten free?


14 Replies

Jerry thanks for raising this question.


In case newbie Coeliacs/ members read the link I think it's necessary to allay any worriers that the link appears to be written by someone outside of the UK. It raises some interesting points yet it's worth members who might not be aware to know that Europe and USA, Canada, NZ, OZ have various levels for ppm which are classed by law as Gluten Free. Plus health care providers (BMAO) and dentists in the UK also sign up to various regulations for example in the UK the British Dental association ensures that all toothpastes are gluten free and all prescription medicines in the UK are classed as gluten free.

The law changes in 2012 across Europe from 200pm of gluten in order to be labelled gluten free to 20ppm to be labelled gluten free. This will be an interesting time.

'New European legislation

In January 2009, a European Commission Regulation on gluten free foods was adopted based on the Codex Standard. The legislation allows a three year transition period before the new terms become mandatory by January 2012.

Food products with levels of gluten less than 20ppm will be able to be labelled as gluten free. This will apply to mainstream products (such as crisps, soups etc), pure uncontaminated oat products and specialist substitute products, including those containing Codex wheat starch, which meet the relevant criteria. Other specialist substitute products, which have been processed to reduce the gluten content, with a gluten level between 21 and 100ppm will be able to use the term ‘very low gluten’.'


Like Jerry says, we personally would also like gluten free legislation to ensure

GF = 'made with naturally gf ingredients and in an environment that is free of contamination from glutinous grains'. In many ways we are slowly moving towards this...

So back to Jerry's original question...what do you think?


I would have thought that Gluten Free means exactly that "Free". If a product contains even only 20ppm, by definition it can't be gluten free. Can it?

In Australia a product must have nil detected gluten to be labelled gluten free.


Roscoe the 'law' surrounding the definition of GF varies from country to country. In the UK (and soon to be Europe) by 2012 our levels for gluten free will at last drop from 200pm (on packaged foods etc) to 20ppm. As this is deemed the level at which 'most' Coeliacs can ingest gluten without it causing a problem. Often the problem for newbie Coeliacs can be that they switch from a gluten laden convienance food diet to a 'GF' convienance processed diet in the UK where Free From foods are often still at 200ppm. Not all newbie or long term coeliacs can tolerate such levels. Do note that ppm = parts per million so they are actually small levels. Yet it's worth noting that GF is a bit of a oxymoron in some countries. Often the only way to be GF is to eat 'naturally gluten free' foods eg fruit, veg. Which is what makes travelling so interesting for all Coeliacs!

From 2012 in the UK & Europe:

Gluten Free = 20ppm or less

Low gluten = 200ppm or less

However, many retailers/ suppliers/ manufactuers are not keen on re-labelling, testing, to ensure their items are now 20ppm or less. So they are removing the gluten free labelling and 'suitable for Coeliacs' eg on ready to cook jar sauces, crisps etc. GFGs are concerned that whilst the new European law is there to protect Coeliacs it may result in less choice so we're watching retail developments closely.

I've heard there is some talk of Oz & NZ increasing their 6ppm/ no detectable levels of gluten for GF to 20ppm (perhaps to keep in line for easy exports/ imports to Europe)?

This link from Ireland may also be of interest:


I Australia a lot of coeliacs are pressing for less than 20ppm to be classed as gluten free. At the moment even the smallest amount of gluten if detected means a product cannot be labeled as gluten free. This is the ruling here.

This of course means that we have a smaller goodies bag. It also increases the cost of gluten free products. We have no prescriptions for foods and in fact pay over $6.00 for a loaf of bread.

As many would know levels of less than 20ppm would be unlikely to harm even the worst coeliac according to Doctor Bob Anderson. You would need to ingest so much of the food.

Fiona is right this person Stephanie lives in the US. And Stephanie is right in that if I claim that my definition of gf is definitive then I am being hypocritical.

In Australia they have 5 ppm as gf but I believe that this is 5ppm gluten and 5ppm of gliadin which's the same as GIG's (which's the Celiac group of North America) but instead of them saying 5ppm of gluten and 5ppm gliadin they just say 10ppm. The reason for this level is its the lowest that the ELISA gluten test can safely say is undetectable gluten.

I find it interesting that Roscoe would like to see 20ppm as gf instead of undetectable gluten. And I think the fear of coeliac being more restricted because of the new levels of 20ppm instead of 200ppm is unfounded because at the end of the day the free from markets are big buisness and the lower amount of allowed gluten in gf food has to be a good thing ultimately. I would like to see this going world wide. Stephanie and her friends do not support GIG. So I can not answer my own question because I do not know the answer.


I, personally, am fine with the 20ppm, and was also ok with some of the 200ppm products.

I really think there seems to be some kind of ridiculous conmpetition over who is the most sensitive, when really, does it matter? We are all in the same, undesirable, boat, and we should be working together for goodness sake!


I was not trying to compete as suggested. I was merely pointing out the difference between countries.

I would love to see the whole world adopt one level allowed so we could try to live the best life possible. I am not trying to start a war.

If I have offended anyone I am sorry

Me too Roscoe and I'm sorry that you had to appologise for my post.


Oh my! Perhaps I should have re read before I posted, as, reading it back, I sounded quite confrontational! Sorry guys :(

What I actually meant to say (but for some reason missed out) is that I think 20ppm is acceptable, and I think it would be a good thing if all countries aligned.

The reason I put that comment about competitive coeliac was the end product of my thought chain. It went as follows: Australia have lower levels; I once had a disagreement over whether or not I was a coeliac with some American and Australian Coeliacs due to my tolerance of some UK products; the difference makes people think they are somehow more aware or more sensitive than us; why is everyone so competitive about it when all roads lead to Rome.

Sorry for kicking off before - it was entirely unintentional. I have a habit of letting my brain get ahead of my fingers, and it would appear that you guys are the casualties this time.

Once again, sorry!

WELL this being my favourite coeliac topic I might wade in here. It's friendly fire so don't worry.

I get really annoyed at the blinkered approach to GF food. If gluten makes you sick obviously don't eat it, diagnosed coeliac or "not recognised by the medical profession stuck in no mans land" poor unfortunate gluten intolerant.

I'm in NZ we have that no detectable gluten - fabulous I say. We share the same FSA as Australia (FSANZ) but I notice there is a push to raise our no detectable to 20ppm because that will enable us to access more GF from abroad. Yeah let's import a whole heap of trouble so we have more variety on our tables. The latest Coeliac Link says that the zero detectable is becoming unworkable. Try harder!

Ok so my bug bear is why the hell are we obsessed with eating processed food anyway. FB forums are full of people in the pursuit of bread, eating the bread, buying the bread, finding the bread on special, new varieties of bread...yadday yadday yah!!! GET OVER THE BLOODY BREAD, that ship has sailed!

As we endeavour to repair our damaged bodies how about forgetting about processed foods altogether? Then the PPM can jump off a cliff. In the old food pyramid 5 of the 6 food groups are naturally GF. Surely we can find something we like in there? GF processed food is generally poison in other forms anyway.

As for the most sensitive coeliac, I'm feeling a wee bit teary today, it's more hormonal but does that qualify?

Mia1057 in reply to VickiK

This makes the most sense I have heard in a long time. Why can't we celebrate what we can eat as there is huge choice instead of trying to create poor imitations of what we can't.

Rosie11011 in reply to VickiK

Why are we eating bread?? The answer surely is that bread is the one thing that is so difficult to live without. Breakfast without toast, lunch without a sandwich, a picnic without some bread etc etc. So obviously we coeliacs try to find a passable alternative. Difficult, and I'm still looking after eight years! But I won't be giving up anytime soon. After all, bread is such a basic part of our western diets.

Hi Vicki, I think you have a very inteligent attitude to gluten whether it appears to make us ill or not.

In the UK a coeliac could have malted cornflakes followed by sandwiches made with codex wheat and then have codex wheat pasta for dinner that evening all on their strict gf diet. And to me it is gluten with everything and would make me ill. So I think you are lucky and don't blame you for wanting to hang onto undetecable gluten.

Its one of my favourite coeliac subjects too.


Thanks Jerry!

Thatpandagirl I know where you are coming from. There's been some absolute madness about the "most sensitive" coeliac. I find it REALLY frustrating that we are so focussed on these foods in the first place. We should be avoiding those "special" aisles and sidestepping the whole PPM lottery.

It's just a wafer thin bit of gluten sir.

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