Gluten-Free Certification Programs
In addition to the FDA-defined standard for gluten-free, there exist at least four major third-party gluten-free certification programs that offer consumers a variety of additional information on gluten-free packaged products. The third-party gluten-free certification programs listed below were established before the FDA’s current labeling laws and require a stricter standard for a product to be labeled “gluten-free.” In addition to defining their gluten-free standard, each of these programs sets requirements for manufacturing and/or testing of final products.
The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP)
The GFCP, endorsed by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, requires packaged foods to meet gluten standards of less than 10 ppm, which covers all aspects of the manufacturing process “from ingredient sourcing, employee training, to cleaning practices, cross-contamination controls, operational management and, finally, an effective end-to-end testing plan” (GFCP).
The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
The GFCO, run by the Gluten Intolerance Group, requires packaged foods to meet gluten standards of less than 10 ppm and “does not allow malted, fermented and hydrolyzed ingredients or finished products made from wheat, rye, barley or hybrids of these grains to be certified gluten-free” due to current lack of valid testing options (GFCO).
CSA Recognition Seal
This program, run by the Celiac Support Association, requires packaged foods to meet gluten standards of less than 5 ppm and “companies must submit the analysis of ingredients and manufacturing procedures (HACCP) to assure the products meet the requirements for the CSA Recognition Seal” (CSA).
This program requires packaged foods to meet gluten standards of less than 10 ppm and “includes sensitive testing procedures, stringent auditing processes, on-site, annual inspections and an independent application review process” (QAI/NSF International).
It may be helpful for you to look for the third-party seals when making purchase decisions, especially if you have concerns about the FDA’s 20 ppm definition or lack of manufacturing/testing requirements for gluten-free packaged products.