AGAINST The Coeliac Society of Australia

Against the PPM gluten changes in Australia
Against the PPM gluten changes in Australia

Issues of Concern with the undermining of Coeliac Disease care

In Australia and New Zealand, the current Trade Practices Act stipulates that only products with no detectable levels of gluten are permitted to be labelled gluten free.

It has recently come to my attention that the Coeliac Society of Australia has not that long ago asked the ACCC to raise the allowable detection limit of gluten laws for a food to be labelled gluten free in Australia. They plan to change it from 'no detectable gluten' (currently <3ppm (parts per million) of gluten) to 20 ppm gluten. This will allow foods with small traces of gluten to be labelled 'gluten free' and meet world labelling definitions as up until this time Australia and New Zealand are of few countries with such strict gluten free labelling laws. In turn, this supposed to make our diets less restrictive as many gluten free foods between 3ppm and 20ppm will be allowed in this country.

Personally I think that in this case the Coeliac Society of Australia (CSoA) is a complete joke, after having read many posts about this throughout the internet. It is such a shame that the severity of coeliac disease is treated with such little respect and I really hope individuals raise this issue with them as it is highly crucial that there is a clear way of knowing that our gluten free foods DO NOT contain gluten.

Would they do this with other common reactive foods (e.g. shellfish, peanut, tree nut, egg, milk or soy)? I would say “NO”. If something was labelled ‘nut free’ then it would be expected to contain 0ppm of peanut/tree nut residue. Why isn’t this the case when it comes to gluten? Goodness knows.

My advice when buying processed foods (if you’re really keen to remove any trace of gluten from your diet):

  1. Look for the “Wheat Free” statement on foods labelled gluten free (this will minimise likelihood of exposure to traces of wheat as this is more commonly an allergen, even though it will not provide a fullproof measure of whether the product is gluten free)
  2. Read the ingredients CAREFULLY! I’m sure you’d have a good idea of potentially problematic ingredients
  3. Ring or email the manufacturer. This may or may not be helpful but is worth a try.

The above points sound daunting, tedious and may be unreasonable, but I feel this is necessary if gluten is to be avoided properly, should the relevant authorities choose to pursue this plan and label foods containing small traces of gluten as ‘gluten free’.

I suggest we all write to the Coeliac Society of Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and FSANZ and firstly ask them about the emergence of this idea and then ask that they don’t slack off (so to speak) on these regulations. Ideally, the CSoA should be assisting other organisations in other countries to work on being able to guarantee that products are 100% gluten free rather than requesting our food authorities adapt our GF status due to laziness in other parts of the world.

IT STINKS! IT ABSOLUTELY STINKS!

YOUR Opinion

How do YOU feel about the Coeliac Society of Australia Making Label Changes

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To conclude, my only advice is this. The consumer is always right (as they say), so we have the right to complain and persuade industries to satisfy our wishes. I encourage you to get your pen in your hand or launch your word processing software and get your concern across. Be sure to let the ACCC know your views and make sure they are NOT persuaded by the CSoA in this endeavour.

WRITE, FIGHT, WRITE!

We will then know we did our best in conquering the quest toward ZERO gluten in order to help improve the lifestyle of coeliacs around the country (and the world) for GOOD!

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Discussion 7 comments

Mudlark 5 years ago

I agree. Unfortunately, over the past few years the society's taken so many poor decisions without consultation with its members that, if you follow them all and discover the misrepresentations and potential conflicts of interest, you risk becoming one of those fruitcakes no-one listens to.

They're not listening anyway.

I'm bitterly disappointed to have my faith in the society and its advisers shattered by such dishonesty. I don't believe it's acting in our interests. For the first time since diagnosis I feel very alone with this condition.

My state rep and national office told me there's been little or no opposition, but it seems there is. I wonder how we can all get together and challenge that. With no general meetings, you don't get a chance to speak or give feedback or connect with other members.


David 5 years ago

too right, infolan. gluten free should mean gluten free. do foods really even need to be labelled as gluten free though? just don't declare gluten in the ingredients and sell it in the health food section, or just symbol it as GF.


moonbun profile image

moonbun 5 years ago from London

If a label says Gluten free that's what it should be, 0ppm.

Unlike allergies, this isn't taken seriously enough, I agree. Raising the allowed ppm gives the free from industry more chance to increase products and therefore make more money. I would think this is the reason. It stinks.

Hope you're well Kelly.


Joey Thomas 5 years ago

Yeah that's pretty bad. I'm even more suprised that the change in labelling is being ochestrated by the Australian celiac society - the very body that is supposed to protect your interests.

I am not a celiac personally. I actually have fructose malabsorption. And trust me the labelling for this intolerance is even more inadequate. Why are companies allowed to write "herbs and spices" on products and not clearly state whether or not onions or garlic are present. I know this is on another note but food labelling needs to get tighter generally not more lax. It's hard enough having to constantly read labels when you shop. The very least one can ask is for these labels to be accurate and complete.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you for all your comments.

Yes, there are some major concerns with such an endeavour. Many of the claims that have been made by this organisation in recent months have been subjective in nature (i.e. "10mg of gluten being safe for consumption for coeliacs" when one in just over 12 participants dropped out of a recent study after consuming gluten at this level) and have been used to persuade the ACCC to adopt new regulations based on these facts. It's good to see that our government agencies are so vigilant about looking after the health of Australians and I hope it will continue and that we can set a standard that someday the rest of the world will adopt.

Remember, we can never put a price on good health. :)


Mel 5 years ago

If this happens to be true, I am truely appalled. My 4 year old

daughter has CD, and gets violently ill very quickly when she has gluten. Even the tiniest amount of gluten makes her so sick. If they do raise it, what will this mean for my little girl.....


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

It is true, Mel. Thankfully, to date, the CSoA has been unsuccessful in their application. Currently, gluten can be detected at a 3ppm level. Therefore, any food containing 3ppm or more gluten cannot be labelled 'gluten free'. Should the FSANZ raise the level, it will simply mean that foods can be labelled 'gluten free' as long as they contain less than 20ppm. The aforementioned 3ppm is likely to become 2ppm and then 1ppm later down the track and this is why CSoA is concerned.

Here are some recent resources regarding the change, which outline the process in greater detail:

CSoA Application:

http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012...

Good Results for gluten free labelling in Australia:

http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2011/03/22/good-resu...

The latter of the two links justifies why these matters should remain as they are.

Hope this helps. Thanks for commenting.

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