Wednesday 4 January 2012

The Gluten Free Law Now Fully In Place

I really didn't want to post about this because it just gets me so mad, but not posting about it on a blog about living with coeliac disease would be silly. Since 2009 there has been a law in the UK that means that any manufacturer of a gluten free product could only put gluten free on the packaging if the food contained 20ppm or less. This is in theory, these manufacturers actually had until January 1st 2012 to get up to speed. Now the law is fully in place.

Labelling should now be as follows:

Gluten Free = Products with 20ppm of gluten or less.

Very Low Gluten = Products that have been treated to remove gluten that have a ppm of 21 - 100.

No Gluten Containing Ingredients = Products that do not have ingredients that contain gluten and where cross contamination precautions have been taken (this is the labelling now on Thorntons Chocolates).

Suitable For Coeliacs may appear on products that contain 20ppm or less.

Suitable For Most Coeliacs may appear on products that have 21 - 100ppm

What makes me mad about this? Let me tell you a little (true) story.

Very early last year I discovered that certain supermarkets were stocking things like gluten free sausage rolls and pizzas. Up until this point since becoming a coeliac I really hadn't eaten anything made outside of my own kitchen aside from fruit and nut bars and the general gluten free biscuits and cakes. Discovering such things was such a treat and I didn't have any problems whatsoever with them.

Then a new brand launched and it was so exciting to see a gluten free product being advertised on the television. You know the one, Albert Einstein eating gluten free bread by Genius. So I tried the bread, I reviewed it here on Free From G back in 2010.

Then Genius started to bring out more products and the temptation was high. I instantly took a fancy to their chicken and mushroom pies as this had been something I loved in my pre-coeliac days. So I tried them and I thought they were disgusting. The chicken pieces were from heaven knows where on the bird, they were dark, gristly and full of fat. I just put this down as an 'oh well, won't be having those again'.

In the early hours of the following morning I was in agony, you don't need the details but yeah, I'd been glutened good. But how? All I had eaten all day was familiar stuff that I had made myself countless times, oh and the Genius pie.

This is how I found out about PPM and what had exactly happened to me. After contacting Genius I discovered that their products weren't gluten free at all. After more research I discovered that Genius and every other gluten free manufacturer could put gluten free on their packaging but that the foods inside could actually have gluten in them.

This is when I found out about the law introduced in 2009, manufacturers could sell products with the gluten free labelling if they had 20 parts of gluten per million or less. That pie that I had eaten had gluten in it. The pie that I bought because it said gluten free on the label.

That f***ing pie made me sick for months.

How does the term gluten free work then? It's not bloody gluten free, as according to Coeliac UK 20ppm looks like a peppercorn in 3 kilos of sugar. As coeliacs aren't we supposed to live on a gluten free diet to protect ourselves from all manner of horrid diseases that we might get if we continue to eat gluten? How is eating a peppercorn sized dose of the evil that is gluten helping us with that exactly? What if we eat several gluten free products containing 20ppm a day, what's happening to us then?

I don't know about you but my body does not seem to be able to tolerate ANY gluten whatsoever, so basically all these gluten free products are pretty useless to me. Don't get me started on the Very Low Gluten labelling, which bright spark thought that one up???

On top of the fact that gluten free labelled products by law are allowed to have gluten in them, it now transpires that manufacturers and restaurants don't even have to test a product for it to be labelled gluten free. So how the hell do they know there's 'only' 20ppm?!

This is why I am so mad about it all, how many coeliacs don't realise, like I didn't, that gluten free is basically a useless term when it comes to packaged stuff. If a label tells me that the food is suitable for coeliacs (20ppm or less) , surely that one is a lie? It definitely isn't suitable for me. An apple is gluten free and suitable for coeliacs but some of this s*** that we're paying over the odds for isn't. I can't blame the manufacturers because they're allowed to do it, it's the idiots who create these laws that need to experience a day of living with the effects of being glutened.

Out of this law, the only label that makes any sense to me is the No Gluten Containing Ingredients. Quite clearly we've established that the Gluten Free label is pretty damn useless. It may have up to a peppercorn sized amount in it, it may have none! Yeah, thanks for that.

For the record, I've had some great feasts on gluten free packaged foods, I'm not saying that everything is s***, however, I personally think that Gluten free labelling should mean only one thing, 100% GLUTEN FREE.

Rant over.


  1. Way to go! :D
    I thought exactly the same thing when i read about the new law (and I'm not even that sensitive to gluten). You just think "well, what the hell is the point of that???"
    It's annoying that a chance to rectify labelling confusion has been wasted and years more confusion will ensue.
    I would like to know why (oh why) Genius et al are putting gluten in their products AT ALL. Can't make tasty bread without gluten? Then don't add gluten and then sell the bread as gluten free./rant

  2. I'm glad that you get me, some of the things I've read today imply that anyone with a view like mine is overreacting. I think it's perfectly normal to be outraged that a gluten free labelled product actually has gluten in it!

    Thanks for the comment :)

  3. I am not fond of then gluten on my food. This will really confused everyone because of the label. Anyways, thanks for the update. :)

  4. I'm so glad I read this! I'm really new to the gluten free land and have been so confused by this 'gluten free' labeling to mean lower than 20ppm or less when I thought I needed to eliminate gluten completely. I had been told I needed to be careful of cross contamination at home so would cook GF food separately and not use the normal toaster etc but then I thought if I need to be this careful, why is the 20ppm ok?!
    I was also thinking- the products that don't contain gluten but are made in the same production as gluten containing products could potentially contain less gluten than 'gluten free' foods!! Madness. Basically, if they pay out to get tested and label as 'gluten free' they can mark up their prices by 50%.
    I wonder if eating high levels of 'gluten free' food that actually does contain low levels of gluten would have an accumulative effect or whether it's 'diluted' in the other food. I think they need to do some proper research into this.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin