Gluten Free Label Laws

A friend recently arrived from the UK with four packs of Haribo. I was so excited that I ate two packets in two days. Perhaps not my finest hour, but I was craving the gummy sugarness of twin cherries! The next day though, I started feeling a bit funny. Gluten tummy, as I call it.

So I fired off a quick email to Haribo UK anew as quite shocked to receive their response.

“The way products are labelled is determined by UK and European Union laws. The laws relating to gluten free labelling have changed which mean we are no longer permitted to label our products as “Gluten Free”.

Previously a product that contained less than 200mg of gluten per Kilo was deemed gluten free. After the change this has now changed to 20mg per Kilo and our suppliers cannot guarantee that the materials supplied are less than the current standard.”

The shocking realization that I could no longer have haribo took several days for me to comprehend.

Now, this got me wondering about my other imported gluten free goodies. I did some looking in the kitchen cupboards to see where my products came from. I also started worrying about my trip back to Canada this summer….

As it turns out, Canada, the US and the UK will allow gluten free labels:

“if gluten was present at levels not exceeding 20ppm (parts per million or milligrams per kilogram).”

But you should be warned: while this is the benchmark for Canada and the UK, the US Food and Drug Administration uses this as a guideline only. So my lovely Eco Planet GF oatmeal could be 21 or 145 ppm. This will make me question ALL products from the US, even Bob’s Red Mill products.****

Going back to the Haribo issue, items which were happily gluten free until 2010, had to be removed as the UK allowed up to 200mg parts per million.

Good news though – Australia and New Zealand have the toughest gluten free label laws. In order to get this coveted label, no gluten can be detected. That makes me feel a lot better about the Yes You Can, Springhill Farms bread mix and Nature Valley sorbets!






**** I have contacted these companies and they use their own gluten testing to ensure their GF products are in fact gluten free.

This was Arrowhead Mills’ response:

We take every measure possible to ensure that our gluten-free products meet our rigorous Quality Assurance Protocol, including an Allergen Program which evaluates the presence of gluten. We aim for our gluten-free products to contain less than 10 parts per million of the gluten protein from sources including wheat, rye and barley which is well below the international standards of 20 parts per million.

And Bob’s Red Mill response:

Our certified gluten free products are all produced in our dedicated gluten free facility and tested for gluten contact several times before being distributed. We test to the International and US standard of less than 20 parts per million, though many products test much lower than this standard.

 The lowest we can detect at this time is 3 parts per million. The test we use is ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) testing.

 We only guarantee that our Gluten Free products test less than 20ppm. No product that tests higher than this enters the facility or is processed as gluten free.


4 thoughts on “Gluten Free Label Laws

  1. It’s not wise to eat candy made in Europe.
    MDG ( maltodextrine/dextrose/glucose ) in Europe is derived from wheat.

    Haribo is sold in Thailand too (bigC; 7/11). When produced outside Europe, it’s based on corn and/or tapioca and will not cause any glutening.

    • Marley says:

      Thanks for your comment. I would obviously recommend that gluten sufferers avoid Haribo full stop. As my research has shown, the German and UK recipes contain gluten.

      A post from Gluten Free Traveller says that US recipes are ok though. I have yet to verify that. To the best of my knowledge, US does not import Haribo to Thailand.

      Most of the Hairbo in Thailand is the German recipe, as indicated by the flag on the back. These are NOT gluten free!

      Sweet and candy producers like Marks & Spencers, as well as Waitrose, have many products that are gluten free. While they do not have gluten free symbols, their ingredients are listed and trustworthy. If they have been contaminated by wheat, barley or rye, they will state it on a label.

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