Freedom Foods: “gluten-free – should always mean free from gluten”

  • May 29, 2013
  • (Sponsored article)

Freedom Foods is opposed to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (the AFGC) proposition that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) alter the definition of ‘gluten-free’ in Australia and, as a consequence, lower Australia’s food safety standards.

Freedom Foods says the issue comes down to the simple concept of truthfulness in food labelling. Consumers, like never before, expect food labelling to be accurate and clear with respect the contents or otherwise of the food contained therein. In Australia and New Zealand under existing food standards regulations consumers buying a product that says ‘gluten-free’ on the label can be assured that the product does not contain any traces of gluten.

The current FSANZ regulations require food manufacturers to ensure there is no detectable level of gluten in foods when making a ‘gluten-free’ claim.

The AFGC wants FSANZ to allow a food to contain up to 20 milligrams of gluten per kilogram to still be called ‘gluten-free’. This would bring the Australian regulation of ‘gluten-free’ claims in line with British and European standards. Some argue that 10 milligrams per kilogram would be safer for coeliac sufferers. Freedom Foods takes the view that the current testing requirement of non-detectable levels is the only level at which “free from” can be a legitimate and truthful claim and not be misleading to consumers.

In the dairy industry “lactose free” is expected to mean exactly that – the product is free from lactose and therefore safe for those people who have lactose intolerance to consume. Similarly you cannot have small particles of nuts, such as peanut in products because of the dangers of nut products to sufferers of anaphylaxis.

Freedom Foods believes that the proposal by the AFGC would lead to an inconsistent, misleading and ultimately confusing labelling approach being taken by FSANZ.

The food industry has worked hard to win consumer confidence and changing the ‘gluten-free’ designation will not help to maintain the confidence of consumers.

“The AFGC argues that the current regulations make production and testing of Gluten Free foods cost prohibitive and restrict variety and options for Australian consumers. This is plainly not correct on either position,” said Michael Bracka, CEO of Freedom Foods.

“The Australian Gluten Free market is one of the most developed in the world and compares more than favorably in terms of cost, variety and availability. In terms of costs, there is no cost differential in the requirements for manufacture and testing of products at 20mg per 1kg and non-detectable levels. The process, technical requirements and costs are identical – the production and testing of safe Gluten Free foods require expertise, technical and quality assurance processes and a strong and sustainable supply chain to source appropriate ingredients at all stages of the supply chain,” Mr Bracka said.

“There is no doubt the proposed change to the regulations in this area would risk consumer confusion, and frankly mislead consumers. If a product contains 20mg per 1kg of Gluten yet makes the absolute “GLUTEN FREE” claim, consumers will have every right to ask whether the product contains gluten or not. The current FSANZ regulations are designed to ensure consumers are not misled and are structured to avoid the inevitable doubt and confusion that comes from ambiguous claims,” Mr Bracka said.

“The Australian food industry can ill afford to support a proposal that risks increased consumer confusion and erosion of trust,” he added.

Freedom Foods disagrees with AFGC gluten-free proposals


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4 Responses to “Freedom Foods: “gluten-free – should always mean free from gluten””

  1. Lauren on May 29th, 2013 7:52 pm

    The petition speaks for many

  2. Lauren on May 29th, 2013 8:01 pm

    I’d just like to say I’M INFORMED! I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE SUGGESTION OF RELAXING THE GLUTEN TESTING STANDARDS! THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT PEOPLE WITH COELIAC DISEASE.

    I’m a Mum of a coeliac and have a few coeliacs in the family. We don’t eat a whole lot of prepackaged foods, we have mostly whole foods, which lessens the blow. However, I thought Australia lead the way, I don’t want to see us be followers. We rarely eat out and we do not have gluten in our house (unless gluten challenges are underway).

    There are studies to say that <20ppm are safe for coeliacs, but one study I viewed excluded a gluten sensitive that had adverse reactions. Why exclude sensitives?

    Yes, you'd have to consume a whole kilogram of food to hit the 20mg of gluten, which is actually twice the acceptable safe amount for a coeliac. So, that's 500g of 'gluten free' food with 10mg of gluten you could consume in a day – providing you're not sensitive. If you break the 500g up into a day for people that indulge in preprocessed foods and do it day in day out, for years… I'm certain it wouldn't be pretty – where are the studies to support long term exposure?

    I'm also nervous because my family members have been through crohn's disease, bowel cancer, lymphoma, depression, and other health complications. I know what the outcomes can bring. I'm not leading the way for my children to risk more than they have to!

    I also know that it's the ACCC that have put a stop-gap on gluten in gluten free products because free is exactly that! Free from whatever is stated.

    Then what happens to the companies that have risen from corporate bullying over the years to meet these strict guidelines to success. Relaxing processes and limitations puts all of their hard work in vain. I fully endorse their efforts and commend them for it. Well Done Freedom Foods as one of them!

    Lastly, it's not just about the coeliacs, the gluten sensitives, and gluten intolerants. What about the gluten allergy sufferers and most importantly the anaphalactics?

    ***We're a group that are so diverse that it shouldn't be just Coeliac Australia being called upon for advice. This is bigger than that.***

    There is a petition asking for supporters to vote too:

    https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/food-standards-australia-new-zealand-do-not-allow-gluten-levels-in-foods-labelled-gluten-free-to-be-relaxed

  3. chef-life on June 3rd, 2013 1:09 pm

    If Gluten was causing such problems with health , then the food regulators would have banned it from schools etc. I can understand the medical evidence from the use of seafood or nuts causing people to have mass reaction or near death. The concept that gluten is dangerous to our health really seems fictional in todays society and has yet to be proven that it causes any problems at all, except hear say from people who are usually following the new fad or trend. Its not gluten that causes issues but Poor diet and/or overeating is usually the real cause of gut pain and constant trips to the toilet.

  4. Elizabeth on July 5th, 2013 10:37 am

    To chef-life
    You clearly have no idea about coeliac disease. My daughter was sick for years before they diagnosed the problem. So please DO NOT talk about poor diet or overeating to a person who suffers from this automimmune issue. My daughter was 8 when she was diagnosed and removing gluten from her diet has changed her life – she grew, she put on weight.
    And in schools I’d like to see kids taking responsibility for their food – gluten is across the menu BUT my daughter, who is now 11, knows exactly what she is allowed to eat and never strays. And for her, eating protein in the shape of nuts would be ideal for school. But that’s banned because there are 2 kids with the problem at a school of 450.
    Yes there are those who think gluten is bad and follow a fad diet because they believe it is better for them. I smile sweetly and change the topic. It will be something different in a few months, I’m sure.
    But we are not all followers of fashion. Trust me life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to worry about it. But we do and we know the consequences of her consuming gluten even in the tiniest form.
    Please check out the coeliac society pages for more information.