Issues of Concern with the undermining of Coeliac Disease care in Australia and New Zealand, the current Trade Practices Act stipulates that only products with no detectable levels of gluten are permitted to be labelled gluten free.
It has recently come to my attention that the Coeliac Society of Australia has not that long ago asked the ACCC to raise the allowable detection limit of gluten laws for a food to be labelled gluten free in Australia. They plan to change it from ‘no detectable gluten’ (currently <3ppm (parts per million) of gluten) to 20 ppm gluten. This will allow foods with small traces of gluten to be labelled ‘gluten free’ and meet world labelling definitions as up until this time Australia and New Zealand are of few countries with such strict gluten free labelling laws. In turn, this supposed to make our diets less restrictive as many gluten free foods between 3ppm and 20ppm will be allowed in this country.
Personally I think that in this case the Coeliac Society of Australia (CSoA) is a complete joke, after having read many posts about this throughout the internet. It is such a shame that the severity of coeliac disease is treated with such little respect and I really hope individuals raise this issue with them as it is highly crucial that there is a clear way of knowing that our gluten free foods DO NOT contain gluten.
Would they do this with other common reactive foods (e.g. shellfish, peanut, tree nut, egg, milk or soy)? I would say “NO”. If something was labelled ‘nut free’ then it would be expected to contain 0 ppm of peanut/tree nut residue. Why isn’t this the case when it comes to gluten? Goodness knows.
My advice when buying processed foods (if you’re really keen to remove any trace of gluten from your diet):
- Look for the “Wheat Free” statement on foods labelled gluten free (this will minimise likelihood of exposure to traces of wheat as this is more commonly an allergen, even though it will not provide a fullproof measure of whether the product is gluten free)
- Read the ingredients CAREFULLY! I’m sure you’d have a good idea of potentially problematic ingredients
- Ring or email the manufacturer. This may or may not be helpful but is worth a try.
The above points sound daunting, tedious and may be unreasonable, but I feel this is necessary if gluten is to be avoided properly, should the relevant authorities choose to pursue this plan and label foods containing small traces of gluten as ‘gluten free’.
I suggest we all write to the Coeliac Society of Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and FSANZ and firstly ask them about the emergence of this idea and then ask that they don’t slack off (so to speak) on these regulations. Ideally, the CSoA should be assisting other organisations in other countries to work on being able to guarantee that products are 100% gluten free rather than requesting our food authorities adapt our GF status due to laziness in other parts of the world.
IT STINKS! IT ABSOLUTELY STINKS!
To conclude, my only advice is this. The consumer is always right (as they say), so we have the right to complain and persuade industries to satisfy our wishes. I encourage you to get your pen in your hand or launch your word processing software and get your concern across. Be sure to let the ACCC know your views and make sure they are NOT persuaded by the CSoA in this endeavour.
WRITE, FIGHT, WRITE!
We will then know we did our best in conquering the quest toward ZEROgluten in order to help improve the lifestyle of coeliacs around the country (and the world) for GOOD!
Author Information: Kelly Nolan, Australia
Kelly Nolan a.k.a. Infonolan – view my online profile at hubpages.com “Ridding ‘False Gluten Free Advertising‘ on Australian Foods”