Thursday, 9 October 2014

Gluten Free Labelling Laws in Australia

FSANZ’s is our labeling governing body and their role is to protect the health and safety of people in
Australia and New Zealand through the maintenance of a safe food supply.  FSANZ is a partnership between ten Governments: the Commonwealth; Australian States and Territories; and New Zealand.  It is a statutory authority under Commonwealth law and is an independent, expert body.

FSANZ is responsible for developing, varying and reviewing standards and for developing codes of conduct with industry for food available in Australia and New Zealand covering labelling, composition and contaminants.  In Australia, FSANZ also develops food standards for food safety, maximum residue limits, primary production and processing, and a range of other functions including the coordination of national food surveillance and recall systems, conducting research and assessing policies about imported food.

Australia and New Zealand have the toughest labelling laws in the world; these have been set by the Australia New Zealand Food Standard's Code. This gives a great deal of confidence with choosing food for people with coeliac disease in Australia. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requires the following:

  • Foods labelled as “gluten free” must not contain any detectable gluten; and no oats or their products; or cereals containing gluten that have used malt or their products.
  • Ingredients derived from gluten containing grains must be declared on the food label, however small the amount.
  • Foods labelled as “low gluten” must contain less than 200 parts per million of gluten.
  • Australia does not have a very large range of low gluten foods and be aware low gluten foods are not recommended for a gluten free diet.

This new code of labelling applies to all food sold or prepared for sale in Australia and New Zealand and food imported into Australia and New Zealand.

A great tool for all coeliacs is the Coeliac Australia association. The Coeliac Australia association has endorsed many products after these products have been tested to prove they contain no detectable gluten. The crossed grain logo is recognised worldwide as a symbol for gluten free.

Let’s now look at how to understand food labels:

 1.    Products Marked Gluten Free
The easiest way to work out if gluten is NOT contained in a product is to look for products marked Gluten Free on the product label. If a product is marked “Gluten Free” it does not contain any detectable gluten. You do not need to look at the ingredients list, the gluten free statement overrides the ingredients list. This is the easiest way for a newly diagnosed Coeliac or for someone catering for a Coeliac and doesn't really know what to cook.

For a product to be labeled gluten free, it must have been independently tested and have a certificate identifying that it is less than 3ppm. If a product is labelled gluten free, you do not need to look at the ingredient list. The fact that it mentions wheat, is irrelevant. The “gluten free” statement overrides everything else. It is hard at first to believe it can be gluten free when the ingredients state 'wheat' but you must trust the rule. To be labelled 'gluten free' it does not contain any detectable gluten.

 2.    Gluten Free by Ingredients
You can read the ingredient list to determine if a product is classified Gluten free, that is, it contains no detectable gluten. Once you start taking notice of what ingredients are actually in the products we consume, we start to see a lot of products actually do not contain gluten. This is a bonus for someone requiring a gluten free diet.

This way takes a little practice but in time you will become confident in understanding different labels and a whole new range of products will open up to you. Soon you will have a new list of favourites which will allow you to make new recipes. Foods that are not marked gluten free but are gluten free by ingredients are often a lot cheaper. So, not only do you get to eat a larger range of food, you also get to save money.

 3.    Foods that are naturally Gluten Free
 These include a large variety of foods such as:
  • Fats and oils
  • Milk (except flavoured milk – you need to check the ingredient list)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Legumes and seeds
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Unprocessed meat (beef, lamb and pork), poultry and fish - cold meat bought from a delicatessen MAY contain gluten. Ask the shop assistant and check the ingredient list.
  • Rice
  • Corn (maize)
  • Sago
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Sorghum
  • Quinoa
  • Arrowroot

(1)  the prohibition of gluten free claims on foods is extended such that the criteria for making a   gluten free claim includes no detectable gluten; and no oats or their products; or no cereals containing gluten that have been malted or their products

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