WHAT DOES A GLUTEN-FREE CERTIFICATION MEAN?
First of all, what is gluten? Gluten is a mashup of many different distinct proteins, all from the same family. These proteins are found in cereal grains like barley, wheat, and rye. Some grains are naturally gluten-free. These include brown rice, millet, buckwheat, wild rice, quinoa, sorghum, amaranth, teff, and polenta corn. Oats can be gluten-free too, but are often contaminated during the refining process. If you have any type of gluten intolerance, it is critical that you buy certified gluten-free oats.
OTHER GLUTEN-FREE FOODS
Gluten-free food lists include things like like potatoes, soy, beans, tapioca, and cassava. You can also strive to eat mainly from gluten-free food groups, like fruits and veggies, as well as bean, nuts, and legumes.
WHY DO WE NEED CERTIFIED GLUTEN-FREE FOODS?
Gluten is an irritant, so many people suffering from stomach disorders may be able to benefit from foods that are certified as gluten-free.
Those who may need a gluten-free diet are people with Celiac disease, people with a “gluten sensitivity” or gluten intolerance, people with autoimmune disorders, people with leaky gut syndrome, and people with other inflammatory stomach conditions.
Some experts now believe that many suffer from Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance without knowing it. They experience a decline in their health, but can’t explain why. They see a doctor, wind up incorrectly diagnosed, then continue to eat gluten. Unfortunately, the disease continues to plague them, and they continue to experience a health decline.
HOW DOES THE GLUTEN-FREE CERTIFICATION ORGANIZATION WORK?
The GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization) is responsible for issuing a certification. However, this gluten-free certification program is only done after meticulous scrutiny by an accredited auditor.
The initial certification and compliance process (from the date of the application to the eventual certification) usually takes several months to complete.
A gluten-free certification involves both the individual products and the facilities where they are produced. As such, an application needs to include information on every single item, as well as the production facilities where these items are manufactured.
Upon submission of an application, the manufacturer has to pay the costs for the audit/inspection(s) up front, regardless of whether the application winds up successful or not. The cost can vary according to the actual amount of work involved to complete the audit and inspections.
Requirements are very strict for the safety of people with food allergies. No more than 10 parts per million of gluten is allowed to be present in any single certified product. If the supplier’s facilities and/or products make the grade, a contract is drawn up to ensure ongoing standards compliance. Only then may the “Gluten-Free Certified” badge be applied to approved gluten-free products.
In addition, a new risk assessment is required every year to ensure that ingredients and operations at the facilities are free of gluten and still meet strict requirements. The continued use of the certification badge is reliant upon ongoing compliance with the GFCO contract.
A GFCO accredited inspector does regular, unannounced spot checks at the production facilities to monitor compliance. They also buy the manufacturer/producer’s products off the shelf from time to time, and send it to a laboratory for it to be analyzed.
Every possible step is taken to ensure quality control. It is almost impossible for a manufacturer/producer to lower their production standards without it being noticed and landing them in some hot water.
So, if a product carries the GFCO Gluten-Free Certification badge, you can safely assume that it does in fact contain fewer than 10 parts per million of gluten. 10 parts per million of gluten really is a negligible amount, and should not cause any adverse health issues.
DOES A GLUTEN-FREE CERTIFICATION SUPERSEDE OTHER LEGAL REQUIREMENTS?
No, it doesn’t. In fact, the gluten-free certification organization (GFCO) process is voluntary and technically is not legally required. However, obtaining that certification badge is an additional step taken by suppliers to reassure their customers.
WHY BOTHER OBTAINING YOUR GLUTEN-FREE CERTIFICATION?
People with health problems or gluten-sensitivities want to know that the products they are buying are in fact, gluten-free. It stands to reason that the consumer is more likely to buy a GFCO certified product, as opposed to products that aren’t certified.
As a manufacturer, we want our customers to feel comfortable buying our gluten-free foods. Though it’s an extra step, it’s an important one for us that we are happy to take. Our consumers’ health and wellbeing are a top priority for us when producing our products, and we know how difficult it can be to find delicious snacks that fit specific dietary needs. For us, the GFCO certification helps us easily assure our gluten free customers that our snacks can be enjoyed without hesitation.