Identifying gluten reliably
For individuals with coeliac disease and gluten and wheat sensitivity, it is particularly important to pay attention to the labelling of gluten content when purchasing foods.
Labelling requirements for gluten
Since November 2005, 14 allergens contained in foods, including ‘cereals containing gluten and products manufactured from them’ must be listed on the package if they are contained as an ingredient in the product, regardless of the form or volume in which they are contained.For an overview of cereals containing gluten, please consult the article about gluten.
Sweeteners made from wheat, such as glucose syrup, dextrose or maltodextrin, are excluded from this labelling directive because no gluten is detectable in these products.
Information about allergens must now also be listed for unpackaged goods. The information can be communicated in writing, electronically or orally. When an oral format is used, written documentation must also be available upon request.
Foods are defined as gluten free if they contain less than 20 mg gluten per kg (= 20 ppm). In addition, manufacturers may also display the symbol of the ear of wheat with the cross through it (‘Crossed Grain’) on the package, which is a licence agreement with the celiac associations.
Tips for buying gluten free foods
- The easiest way to identify gluten free products is to look for the word ‘gluten free” on the front of the package, which will ideally be accompanied by the symbol of the ear of wheat with the cross through it (‘Crossed Grain’ symbol).
- If you are unfamiliar with an ingredient in the list of ingredients, it’s better to leave the product on the shelf.
- If the label lists the designation ‘starch’ or ‘modified starch’, this refers to gluten free starch. Starch containing gluten must be declared accordingly on the label.
Are you a physician or nutritional specialist? You will find more detailed information on labelling requirements at Dr. Schär Institute, the knowledge platform for experts on the topic of gluten intolerance and the gluten free diet.