Certified gluten free – not 100% gluten free

What does the gluten free label and certified gluten free label mean in the US? Let’s find out.

According to the FDA, in order for a product to be labelled gluten free it has to be lower than 20 parts per million. The rule goes on to say that the food cannot contain:

  • An ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains,
  • An ingredient derived from these grains that has not been processed to remove gluten, or,
  • an ingredient derived from these grains that has been processed to remove gluten, but results in the food containing more than 20 ppm of gluten

As long as a product complies with these rules, it can be labelled gluten free. But the product does not have to be tested to confirm. Gluten free is not necessarily 100% gluten free foods according to the FDA. It may contain trace amounts of gluten but studies have shown that this level of gluten in a single product does not induce an autoimmune response in celiac disease.

Certified gluten free means that a third-party has tested the product to confirm it’s status. Depending upon the certifying body it could have less than 5ppm, 10ppm, 15ppm, or 20ppm. This ensures the product meets the gluten free label but remember it is not necessarily 100% gluten free.

Our goal should be a 100% gluten free lifestyle. We should strive to eat as many whole foods fresh foods as possible. Processed foods are where we start to get into trouble and should be limited to the best of our ability. I’m not going to fault anyone for eating a bag of Cheetos here and there, but whole foods is the way to go. Also, you never have to worry about whether a tomato is gluten free or not!

As a side note, a double blind placebo controlled study in 2007 said that as long as patients keep their ingestion of gluten to below 50mg, they do not affect their intraepethelial lymphocyte count. Doesn’t talk about villi height, but this should be comforting to most because no matter how hard we try, nobody is 100% gluten free.

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