EU to add two new food labels for gluten intolerant in 2016

World Trade OrganizationThe EU has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it intends to allow two new labels on foods for people intolerant to gluten:

  • “gluten-free”: max. 20 ppm gluten (unchanged).
  • “very low gluten”: max. 100 ppm gluten (unchanged).
  • New label: “suitable for people intolerant to gluten”: may accompany “gluten-free” or “very low gluten” labels, without further requirements.
  • New label: “specifically formulated for people intolerant to gluten”: may accompany “gluten-free” or “very low gluten” labels, if the product is specially produced to
    • reduce the gluten content of gluten containing ingredients (i.e. gluten-free wheat starch), or
    • substitute the gluten containing ingredients with other ingredients naturally free of gluten.

Furthermore, the regulation explicitly forbids the use of these labels on baby milk, pointing to an earlier directive forbidding the use of gluten-containing ingredients in all baby milk.

Although the notification was sent to the WTO on 25 March 2014 already, it seems to have gone unnoticed by the celiac community until now, probably because the document was never really announced and is unlikely to be stumbled upon.

Continue reading EU to add two new food labels for gluten intolerant in 2016

Free From Food expo 2013: Latest news on gluten-free (photos, tweets, commentary)

Peter Nowee, The Serious Celiac at Free From Food 2013, Freiburg, GermanySorry for the delay, everybody! Here is my report on the Free From Food conference and exhibition I visited on 4 and 5 June in Freiburg, Germany. It was an interesting event and two days were way too short to cover everything. I sent out 36 tweets during the event and this blog post will show you the photos that go with them. Feel free to ask if you would like some more information on any of them. At the end of this post, some personal comments on 1) the differences in gluten-free product availability between Germany and the UK, 2) the differences in raising awareness between the gluten-free market and the lactose-free market, and 3) the AOECS strategy on the changes in the European gluten-free legislation. Feel free to add your comments as well!
Continue reading Free From Food expo 2013: Latest news on gluten-free (photos, tweets, commentary)

Send in your questions! The Serious Celiac visits Free From Food 2013

Free From Food 2013The Serious Celiac will be covering Free From Food 2013, a conference and exhibition on allergen-free food, held in Freiburg, Germany on 4 and 5 June 2013. This event targets retailers, food manufacturers, patient support groups and medics, covering the entire industry surrounding celiac disease and other intolerances and allergies. Although normally too pricey for the ‘common’ celiac, The Serious Celiac has received a press ticket, meaning that I can report to you what’s happening, live on Twitter and this weblog! What burning question on gluten free food would you like to see answered?
Continue reading Send in your questions! The Serious Celiac visits Free From Food 2013

European Commission on gluten free: “Same level of protection”

Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, presiding the 3234th meeting of the Council of the European Union, 22 April 2013. The political agreement of December 2012, laying the ground for a transfer of “gluten free” to general food law, was recently formalized by the Council. The very next day, the European Commission announced what it understands “at least the same level of protection” to mean: the same level of protection as now, though extended in scope of application to non pre-packed foods. This seems to confirm that the limit on the gluten content (currently 20 ppm) will remain the only requirement. Continue reading European Commission on gluten free: “Same level of protection”

EU ban on “gluten free” averted; delicate subject entrusted to closed committee

The European Parliament agreed to leave the rules on “gluten free” marking out of the special foods regulation after all, averting a ban on the use of “gluten free” markings on normal foods.

The European Commission convinced the European Parliament and the Member States that it will transfer the existing rules on “gluten free” to the 2011 Regulation on Food Information to Consumers without any changes.

The political agreement could be interpreted as leaving the Commission some room for introducing additional requirements for use of the label, even if that would affect celiac consumer choice.

A call for changes could originate from the SCFCAH committee, a powerful, but closed advisory committee of the Commission. This committee will play a key role in the 2013 developments on this issue and is made up of national officials of the various European member states. Dietetic food industry lobbying at these officials might once again lead to surprises.

For example, this blog has discovered that in October 2012, the Italian Celiacs Association AIC had one of its lobbying documents drafted by a dietetic food industry representative. In response, AIC states that in Italy, consumers and the dietetic foods industry were united on this issue. Italian celiacs get their dietetic foods reimbursed from the national health service. AIC states that it has come to accept the political agreement and welcomes the call on the Commission to examine a possible distinction between naturally gluten-free foods and foods rendered gluten-free. For both food categories, AIC now agrees with maintaining the existing requirement of 20 mg/kg, seeking no new, additional requirements at the European level. Instead, AIC intends to use the labeling distinction to set additional requirements for the reimbursement of gluten-free rendered foods at their national level. Italy voted in favor of the agreement.

MEP and shadow rapporteur Esther de Lange (The Netherlands, EPP) says the Commission guaranteed the Parliament that the rules will be transferred without changes. She expects the transfer to be completed early 2014.

Different statements made by Germany during the negotiations indicate that Germany dropped its objections to the “gluten free” part of the deal only at the last moment, though still voting against the entire agreement for other, unrelated reasons.

Continue reading EU ban on “gluten free” averted; delicate subject entrusted to closed committee

Threat of European ban on ‘gluten-free’ labelling of regular consumer foods

Enjoying “gluten free” logos in your supermarket or on your favorite food products? An imminent European regulation on medical foods (2011/0156(COD)) threatens to turn into a government-granted monopoly on the use of “gluten free” for the diet foods industry. If passed, regular gluten-free foods can no longer carry a “gluten free” label. How did this happen and what can be done to prevent this? Continue reading Threat of European ban on ‘gluten-free’ labelling of regular consumer foods