It seems like gluten-free products are everywhere nowadays. But gluten-free products aren’t just the latest fad — they are a necessity for people who suffer from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that is responsible for the elastic nature of dough. For many people this protein is easily digestible and has no effect on their overall health. But for those with any type of gluten intolerance, the ramifications of eating gluten can range from constipation and bloating to diarrhea and malabsorption, which can result in malnutrition. For individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential.
To help consumers who are looking for gluten-free products, NSF has developed a science-based gluten-free certification program.
How Do Products Become Certified?
To earn gluten-free certification under this program, companies must have a gluten-free compliance plan and undergo onsite inspections of their production and handling facilities. During the onsite audit, accredited inspectors collect a random sample of each product for testing to confirm gluten-free integrity of 10 ppm or less. In addition, the inspector verifies that the company is conducting the appropriate raw ingredient testing or that raw ingredients are being sourced from an NSF certified gluten-free supplier.
The onsite audit requirement also helps verify that product manufacturers and handlers have procedures to prevent contamination and commingling, which is critically important for those with gluten allergies and gluten-intolerance. Like with all NSF certification programs, monitoring for ongoing compliance with the standard is an essential part of certification and includes annual manufacturing facility inspections and product testing.
Why the Limit Is Set at 10 Parts Per Million (ppm)
Although U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed 20 ppm as the standard limit for gluten-free food and the World Health Organization also upholds this standard, some individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate products that test at 20 ppm. The NSF program therefore decided to certify products at 10 ppm and below to meet the needs of consumers who are highly sensitive to this ingredient.