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Gluten Free Labelling and Certification

What you need to know

 

Is the "gluten-free" labelling in foods regulated in Canada?

  • Yes! The labelling of GF foods follows the safety standards determined by Health Canada and is regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR). For a food to be represented as "gluten-free", it must comply with section B.24.018 of the FDR:

    • "It is prohibited to label, package, sell or advertise a food in a manner likely to create an impression that it is a gluten-free food if the food contains any gluten protein or modified gluten protein, including any gluten protein fraction, referred to in the definition "gluten" in subsection B.01.010.1(1)."

Is there a threshold of gluten amount for a food to be considered "gluten-free"?

  • Although Health Canada's regulatory requirements for "gluten-free" foods do not refer to any specific threshold for gluten in products represented as "gluten-free", Health Canada considers that levels of gluten protein below 20 parts per million (ppm) generally do not represent health risks to consumers with celiac disease. This level is recognized internationally in the Codex Alimentarius Standard for Foods for Special Dietary Use for Persons Intolerant to Gluten (Codex Stan 118-1979) which states that the gluten content of foods labelled gluten-free shall not exceed 20 ppm.

  • As such, Health Canada states that: "Based on the available scientific evidence, Health Canada considers that gluten-free foods, prepared under good manufacturing practices, which contain levels of gluten not exceeding 20 ppm as a result of cross-contamination, meet the health and safety intent of B.24.018 when a gluten-free claim is made."

How is the regulation of gluten-free food label enforced?

  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible to ensure the compliance and enforcement of gluten-free claims, by following Health Canada and FDR guidance. 

  • CFIA inspects manufacturers and distributers of gluten-free foods to assess gluten presence in foods due to cross-contamination and to evaluate the good manufacturing/importing practices (GMP/GIP) in place. 

  • Accordingly to CFIA, products containing less than 20 ppm gluten as a result of cross-contamination will not be recalled, nor be requested to remove the gluten-free claim.