All packaged foods in the UK are covered by a law on allergenSomething which causes an allergic reaction.
labelling, which means that you can tell from an ingredients list whether a product contains glutenA protein that is found in the cereals wheat, barley and rye.
If a cereal containing gluten is used as an ingredient it must be listed on the ingredients list, no matter how much is used. Manufacturers will name the specific grain so you will see these words on the ingredients list if they have been used:
- or any grain which has been made through breeding these together.
Exemptions to the labelling
There are some ingredients which are made from a cereal containing gluten where the grain is processed in such a way that the gluten in removed. These ingredients are safe for people with coeliac diseaseA condition where a person is unable to eat gluten as it makes their body attack itself.
and therefore it is not necessary to list the cereal they first came from.
The European Commission has worked with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSAEuropean Food Safety Authority - conducts risk assessments regarding food safety for the EU, and provides independent scientific advice.) to develop a list of ingredients which will be safe for people with coeliac disease.
The following ingredients are safe for people with coeliac disease:
- glucose syrups derived from wheat or barley including dextrose
- wheat-based maltodextrins
- distilled ingredients made from cereals that contain gluten, for example, alcoholic spirits.
Although these ingredients can be made from cereals containing gluten, manufacturers do not have to label them as such. Some manufacturers still list these, for example ‘glucose syrup from wheat’ or ‘wheat dextrose’. These ingredients are gluten-freeWhen a food has less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten so it is safe for people with coeliac disease to eat.
and suitable for people with coeliac disease.
Using an allergy box is a recommendation but is not compulsory so not all manufacturers use them.
Therefore it is important that you always check the ingredients list.
‘May contain’ labelling
Manufacturers are given guidance by the Food Standards Agency on when to label a product with a ‘may contain’ statement.
They may use labelling such as:
- may contain traces of gluten
- made on a line handling wheat
- made in factory also handling wheat.
When you see one of these statements on a product, the manufacturer has decided that there is a risk that the product could be contaminated with gluten. However some manufacturers use this label even when the risk is very small.
Coeliac UK can contact manufacturers to talk through the risk of these products and does sometimes list products that carry a may contain statement in the Food and Drink DirectoryCoeliac UK’s key source of information listing thousands of foods that can be included in a gluten-free diet.
so for further information contact us. You can also contact the manufacturer directly if you would like further information on the suitability of the product.
law on gluten-free
You may see statements on products specially marketed for people with coeliac disease. When you see these statements they indicate that the food is suitable for you:
- very low gluten
- suitable for coeliacs.
Since January 2012 these terms have been covered by a new law for the labelling of gluten-free foods which was originally published in January 2009.
- Only foods which contain 20ppm or less of gluten can be labelled ‘gluten-free’. This includes naturally gluten-free foods, specialist substitute products which may contain Codex wheat starch (products mainly on prescription) and pure, uncontaminated oats.
- Products which contain between 21 and 100ppm gluten can be labelled ‘very low gluten’. This will include specialist substitute products which contain Codex wheat starch.
This legislation is based on the Codex standard published in July 2008.
For more information and to find out how we can help, read more about the law on gluten-free.