Be aware of letter symbols

Be aware of letter symbols

It has been such common practise within all coeliac forums to refer to gluten free products, etc as GF. This is a little warning to those of us that do use this shortened form of explanation.

I was recently caught out by seeing the letters GF reading the term within my mind to be "GLUTEN FREE" that I quite forgot that it doesn't necessarily stand for this and this only. I couldn't believe it when I really did realise that manufacturers are now using the term for 'GELATIN FREE' items.

So please read the contents of what you pick up when you're out shopping or shopping online - do not automatically think that whenever you see GF it means 'Gluten Free' ..

Take care!

10 Replies

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  • Hi all.

    I guess that in Australia we are lucky as any product that contains an allergan must be indentified on the ingredients panel. ie contains wheat barley etc. Makes it a bit easier.

  • Hi Roscoe, I have been reading up on your laws and legislation on food labelling and indeed Australia leads the world. It is woefully pitiful how much more needs to happen over here for us to come anywhere close to you.

    Out of curiosity - do you know how the labelling of foods was achieved? Did coeliacs have anything to do with it? Just wondered how and who managed to get the ball rolling - ours is positively static at the moment!!

  • useul warning, thanks

  • Hi Lois - you can imagine how daft I felt! Lol!! It is so easy to just think GF as gluten free - in a sense I suppose we lost this right because CUK have pushed the crossed-grain symbol ... if only they allowed people to use it freely!! It would have been better if they hadn't come up with it at all and the law of the land had pushed for all companies to use GF - we may well have had more things labelled if they had done that, I think.

  • Yes, thank you for making us aware of this. I'm actually shocked to hear this.....I really thought GF was only gluten free and I'm always looking out for and using the symbol GF. Re the laws of labelling in Australia, I think this is really the way to go. Sometimes I think we need a stronger Coeliac support organisation than the existing one to really stand up for us in this country. IMHO it is GFG's who have the determination and passion to change things.

  • Celia, I think that you are right - and regarding information we have far more on this forum (with us all banding together) than probably anywhere else at the moment.

    What is shocking is that the term gluten free varies from country to country and really it should all be the same - free from gluten. The fact that allowable amounts of gluten can be called gluten free is quite alarming - if you buy US items then it can be as high as 200ppm - Australia is 5ppm - Europe is 20ppm - so on and so forth.

    I was reading about hidden dangers of regular consumption of gluten - there have been several articles written - some make frightening reading as there is an inference that to keep having low levels of gluten is just as damaging as to treat your body as if there was not a gluten issue. This would then cause the body to be in constant repair - not necessarily in the intestines but in other major organs.

    I have added this link in Fiona's question as I found this interesting too as it deals with the side effects of being on a gluten free diet. At first I thought it was wholly about the US issues but it did also mention Swedish researchers studying adult coeliacs that have been on a gluten free diet for ten years and the vitamin deficiencies and health risks .. also advising annual health checks and whether taking folic acid and vitamin supplements may be necessary:

    celiac.com/articles/22117/1...

  • Lynxcat, may I ask what product(s) you've seen marked this way? 'Gf' is already used informally as shorthand for gluten free to such a degree that we could write to whomever is using it to mean gelatin free to point this out. After all, they don't want to confuse people any more than we want to be confused.

    Every grocery website I use uses a gf mark to indicate gluten free, and if you google 'gf groceries' even google knows you mean gluten free.

  • Hollyann, Everywhere you look online there is not one distinct symbol for gluten free - the photo above was for Healthspan products. But I have also seen Gf for gelatin free whilst G meant gluten free on the same website .. the website was also a UK site:

    healthplus.co.uk/E400-Natur...

    And sadly no-one has contacted other sites with GF meanings on them to stamp our mark of Gluten Free is shortened to GF

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GF

    acronyms.thefreedictionary....

  • I don't think there is anything clearer than the labeling on Baxter's soup tins, I think it even puts the crossed grain symbol (which I think is quite confusing) to shame.

    I reallywould encourage all food manufacturers to adopt something similar.

    I know if any of our supermarkets adopted the same labeling for their own brand products were as clearly marked, I would not shop anywhere else!

  • As stated earlier Australia has the strongest legislation regarding gluten free at 5ppm at the moment. However this has only been achieved by the lobying of Food Standards departments in Australia and New Zealand by the Coeliac societies of both countries.

    However in rather a strange twist the fact that as analytical testing becomes more sensitive, the level of detection may decrease to 1ppm and it may be difficult, because of cross contact, for any product to be labelled gluten free.

    The Coeliac Society of Australia have stated their concernes that the term gluten free may disappear altogether and we will be the only country not to be able to supply gluten free foods.

    This would seem to be an unfortunate outcome for a food standard developed to assist people with Coeliac Disease.

    So I think that perhaps the lower level could be a double edged sword.

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