Ten Fast Facts about Allergen Advisory Statements for Wheat & Gluten-Free Foods
In Honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Gluten Free Watchdog is writing a series of articles (the goal is one per day during the month of May) related to the gluten-free diet–currently the ONLY treatment for celiac disease.
An allergen advisory statement for wheat:
- Refers to manufacturer processing practices, such as the use of a shared facility, shared production line, or shared equipment
- May appear on a label as “made in a facility that produces wheat” or “manufactured on equipment that also produces wheat”
- Is a voluntary statement and not currently covered by any federal regulation
- Must be truthful and not misleading according to the FDA
- Is not the same as the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that requires wheat to be named in either the ingredients list or Contains statement when wheat protein is present as an ingredient
- May be included on a food labeled gluten-free BUT that food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten
- Does NOT reflect the gluten content of foods appearing to be free of gluten-containing ingredients but not labeled gluten-free
- In our recently published database review of 101 products tested through Gluten Free Watchdog, of the 87 products that did NOT include an advisory statement, 13 contained quantifiable gluten at or above 5 ppm including 4 products that tested at or above 20 ppm of gluten.
- Of the 14 products that DID include an advisory statement, only 1 contained quantifiable gluten at or above 5 ppm
- A one page flyer is available at https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-FNCE-AAS-flyer.pdf
- Could result in a consumer choosing a product contaminated with gluten if they rely on the presence or absence of such a statement when choosing between products appearing to be free of gluten-containing ingredients but not labeled gluten-free
- Is NOT typically included on the label of a single ingredient “naturally gluten-free” grain or flour—products with some of the highest risks for cross contact with wheat (and barley)
- At Gluten Free Watchdog we are currently compiling data on allergen advisory statements and the gluten content of foods labeled gluten-free. This data will be submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal for publication.
Tomorrow’s Post: When sponsorship dollars muddy the messaging for products sold to the gluten-free community