Gluten Free Label Reading

Gluten Free Label Reading

Learn How to Read Gluten Warning Labels

Gluten Free Label Reading-1

Have you ever read a label while grocery shopping that felt like it had conflicting information?  You’re not alone!  Gluten Free Label reading can be tricky. And not just because gluten can hide in many different ingredients.

What Gluten Free Products are Safe to Eat?

Anything marked “gluten-free” on a packaged label is safe to eat.  Some products have a “certified gluten-free” symbol on it while others do not.  However, despite rumors ,there is NO difference between a “certified” gluten free product vs any other gluten free label. According to FDA law, any product in the United States labeled “gluten-free” must have less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Where it gets trickier…

Products do not always have a “gluten-free” label but can still be safe to eat. But you need to do some digging. Although the FDA requires products to be labeled with allergen warnings alongside the ingredients, these allergen warnings are only for the 8 major allergens identified by the FDA. Those allergens are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.  So, only wheat appears on the allergen lists, not gluten.  If the allergen statement tells you the product contains wheat, of course don’t eat it. But, you will have to look a little bit further into the ingredient label for any listed gluten. 

Other Gluten Free Labeling Gray Areas…

There are other common gray areas in gluten free label reading that need more clarification. Some manufacturers include warning labels about their manufacturing process to disclose possible cross-contact. However, there are different ways to interpret these labels and discern how MUCH risk is actually present.

  • Made in a facility that processes wheat/gluten“: Factories can be absolutely massive (think the size of multiple city blocks), so it does not mean cross-contamination is guaranteed—it just means that all of the equipment is under one roof.  But I’d consider this a pretty safe choice and say the true odds of cross contact occurring are pretty slim.
  • “Made on shared equipment that also processes wheat/gluten”: The FDA requires strict equipment cleaning between each product using shared equipment.  There is still, however, a risk for cross-contamination. My general rule of consideration is how big or established is the company? The larger the corporation- the more prone to inspection they are. Therefore, the safer I feel their lines are cleaned thoroughly enough to remove gluten between runs.
  • “May contain wheat/gluten”: Don’t bother with a product that has this label.  The company is basically saying they do not know the origin of some of their ingredients. Therefore, the risk is too high there will be extensive cross contact or even larger quantities of gluten in the product.

It is important to remember these three warning labels are all voluntary statements.  Many companies with these labels sell perfectly safe products but decide to include these statements purely for liability purposes.  As always, if you ever have questions about products with or without these labels, feel free to call the manufacturer with your questions!

For information about possible gluten containing ingredients in other products read my post about safe Personal Care Products Here!

Gluten Free Label Reading

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