A new gluten-free certification label has been created to help US consumers sift through the sea of unsubstantiated claims and logos.
Quality Assurance International and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness announced the new label last week, which is to act as a rigorous, science-based stamp of approval for gluten-free foods, the groups said.
The logo is identifiable as a black and white circle with a checkmark in the middle, and reads, "This product is certified gluten-free."
In addition to stringent product reviews, to qualify for a seal manufacturers will be required to undergo onsite inspections, testing to ensure compliance of 10 parts per million (ppm) or less, and compliance that includes random product testing.
Gluten-free foods are particularly important for people suffering from Celiac disease, a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Some symptoms of Celiac disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, foul-smelling or bloody stool, fatigue, lactose intolerance and unexplained weight loss.
The diet rules out ordinary breads and pastas, as well as gravies, custards, soups and sauces thickened with wheat, rye, barley or flour, also listed as ‘dextrin.'
In the European Union, in order to carry the words "gluten-free," products must have less than 20 ppm, and to be deemed ‘very low gluten,' 100 ppm.
Australia has the most stringent gluten-free regulation, at five ppm and products are indicated as such by the words "gluten-free."
Currently in the US, The Gluten-Free Certification Organization also provides seals for products that have less than 10 ppm and, until the QAI's label launch, was the only independent, third-party gluten-free verifier in the world.
Quality Assurance International is the same group behind the green and white USDA Organic seal and with its parent company, NSF International has been auditing and certifying foods for 66 years.
For a full list of foods to avoid when on a gluten-free diet, check out the Mayo Clinic which provides a full breakdown, at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gluten-free-diet/my01140.
American talk show host Elisabeth Hasselbeck also wrote a book touting the virtues of a gluten-free diet in The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.