The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has partnered with the Gluten-Free Certification Program (developed by the Canadian Celiac Association) to create a unified and effective program for the certification of gluten-free products right across North America.
Other gluten-free certification programs exist, but this represents the first approach to gluten-free certification to cross national boundaries. The newly designed Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) is endorsed by the leading celiac associations in both the U.S. and Canada, and travelers will be able to find certified products on both sides of the border.
Food manufacturers who want to receive GFCP certification for their brands are required to meet strict standards. In order to receive certification, the food product must contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten, half of the FDA’s proposed (but still not finalized) 20 ppm standard.
In addition, the program goes beyond merely testing the final product for the presence of gluten: the entire production chain is examined, from ingredient sourcing to employee training, manufacturing facilities, cleaning processes and more.
Certified products will be audited on an annual basis by an accredited, independent third-party organization to make sure companies remain compliant with the strict rules. The purpose of using an independent third party to conduct the audits is to ensure there will be no conflict of interest among the manufacturers, the auditors and the NFCA. This way consumers can be assured that the new gluten-free symbol indicates high quality, trustworthy certification.
At present, “the landscape is crowded with gluten-free label claims and it’s difficult for consumers to understand what they mean,” noted Jennifer North, vice president of the NFCA. “Some claims are backed up by symbols, often created by manufacturers themselves.”
In contrast, trademarked certification seals – such as the new GFCP logo – will employ the word “certified” to ensure there is a third-party process to back up the claims a manufacturer is making.
Paul Valder, president of the GFCP, said he was excited about the new certification partnership. “By combining the endorsement of the NFCA and their strong industry relationships, together with the technical strengths of our program, I am confident we will be able to deliver a comprehensive value proposition that is yet to be seen in the U.S. marketplace,” he said.
As companies and brands begin to get on board, keep an eye out for the GFCP logo in a market near you!