Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) Highlights Importance of Food Label Transparency During Celiac Awareness Month

AUBURN, Wash. (May 25, 2022)—The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), the industry leader in gluten-free food safety, is recognizing Celiac Awareness Month throughout May by reinforcing the importance of label transparency on food products, which is crucial for those with celiac disease and others in the gluten-free community. Among the U.S. population, 3 million people have celiac disease, a medical condition that requires a strict gluten-free diet. Additionally, research conducted by GIG in 2021 indicates that 7% of U.S. shoppers are rigidly restricting gluten in their homes while 23% of shoppers are avoiding gluten in their homes. Consumers living gluten-free rely on the accuracy of food labels to ensure the item is safe to eat. However, many products have labels and ingredient lists with misleading information about gluten content. For those with celiac disease, just a tiny amount of gluten may cause serious illness.

 

Well-intentioned manufacturers can often cause confusion for consumers by labeling items with unclear terms and phrases such as:

 

  • Gluten-friendly
  • Celiac-friendly
  • Without gluten
  • Made without gluten
  • No gluten-containing ingredients
  • No gluten
  • Low gluten
  • Free of gluten
  • Naturally gluten-free
  • Produced on shared equipment
  • May contain gluten
  • Other “may contain” statements

 

Labels that declare a product with terms like these can be problematic as these terms don’t provide assurance that manufacturers have taken steps to prevent cross-contact, in addition to using gluten-free ingredients. Of particular concern are allergen statements, such as “may contain” or “produced on shared equipment” as gluten-free consumers often rely on these types of statements to determine the gluten-free status of a product. The clearest label to inform consumers if a product meets the FDA’s threshold of 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten is to simply label the product “gluten-free.”

 

To go even further to ensure a product meets the safety threshold and builds trust with consumers, the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) guarantees that any product label that includes the GFCO mark confirms that it contains 10 ppm or less of gluten – even more stringent than the FDA – assuring consumers that these manufacturers have adhered to highly rigorous product testing and safe manufacturing policies. Research indicates that 82% of consumers who rigidly restrict gluten consider certification an important feature when seeking gluten-free products, with GFCO-certification preferred.

 

“Celiac Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity for raising awareness about the everyday struggles the gluten-free community faces in order to live a safe, healthy life,” said Jeanne Reid, marketing manager, GIG. “By providing transparent labeling and through proper certification, businesses build trust with gluten-free consumers and foster their loyalty by reassuring them that their health and dietary needs are a priority.”

 

 

About the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)

The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association funded by private donations, sponsorship opportunities and food safety programs. It relies on tax-deductible contributions to support its many innovative industry, service, social and awareness programs. GIG has been a highly respected leader in the gluten-free community since it was founded in 1974. In addition to more than 80 local support groups across the United States, GIG has increased its presence internationally to 50 countries. GIG’s mission is to make life easier for everyone living gluten-free and it does this through consumer support, education and its food safety programs. The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), a program of GIG, is a leader in the verification of quality, integrity and purity of gluten-free products. The Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS) program is a proven model of established best practices for foodservice facilities offering gluten-free options. GIG is committed to ongoing food safety research to assure customers and consumers the highest level of excellence in its gluten-free programs and services. For information, visit www.gluten.org.

 

Media Contact:           Joe Garber, Sterling Kilgore, jgarber@sterlingkilgore.com, 630-964-8500 x229

 

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