Gluten Friendly - an ILLEGAL label!

Rid the Label!

Gluten Friendly - 100% ILLEGAL in Australia and New Zealand
Gluten Friendly - 100% ILLEGAL in Australia and New Zealand

LAYING DOWN THE LAW: Gluten Free & Low Gluten

In the past couple of years, many food service and restaurant-type businesses have been mindlessly jumping on the so-called 'gluten free' bandwagon, particularly within Australia and New Zealand! Much can be said about this (both good and bad) as many 'well-meaning' businesses interested in providing 'coeliac-'friendly'' meals tend to be slack in preparing meals for coeliac-diseased individuals (the majority of individuals who must follow a gluten free diet in order to maintain good health).

Because many businesses offering 'gluten free fare' have not been able to guarantee the gluten free status of many of these meals, and due to the strict laws surrounding gluten-free labelling in Australia, many businesses have resorted to labelling items intended to be gluten-free NOT as "gluten free" but more often "GLUTEN FRIENDLY"!

Personally, I know little of this 'gluten friendly' term. I do not know where it originated. I had only come across it earlier this year, when I found myself inside a Pizza Capers store in southern Queensland. I questioned the staff at the practice as to what this 'made-up' term actually meant. They informed me that it means that gluten is present in the environment that the gluten free pizza is made.

Initially, this made sense to me, as according to Australia's labelling laws, it is ILLEGAL to label something as "GLUTEN FREE" if it contains oats, barley malt or ANY detectable gluten as outlined by the Australian Food Authority.  

That was, UNTIL I received a number of formal responses from various authorities outlining that it is ILLEGAL to claim something as GLUTEN FRIENDLY in the first place! 

An alternative term that can be used in Australia and New Zealand is LOW GLUTEN. We see less and less of this term, particularly in Australia as many coeliacs are becoming increasingly sensitive to smaller 'trace' amounts of gluten. For items in Australia and New Zealand to be labelled as "LOW GLUTEN" they must contain NO oats, NO barley malt, and ABSOLUTELY NO MORE THAN 200ppm DETECTABLE GLUTEN!

Excerpt from FSANZ (page 15) http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/ACF2A90.pdf

Gluten Free Labelling Laws

Claims in relation to gluten content of food

(1) Claims in relation to the gluten content of food are prohibited unless expressly permitted by this code.

(2) A claim to the effect that a food is gluten free must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains –
-- (a) no detectable gluten; and
-- (b) no –
-- -- (i) oats or their products; or
-- -- (ii) cereals containing gluten that have been malted/their products.

(3) A claim to the effect that a food has a low gluten content must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains no more than 20 mg gluten per 100 g of the food.

-- (a) more than 20 mg gluten per 100 g of the food; and
-- (b) oats or malt

(4) A claim to the effect that a food contains gluten or is high in gluten may be made in relation to a food.

Common Australian FAQ:

Q. So, where exactly DOES the 'GLUTEN FRIENDLY" term exist in all of this? hmm?

A. ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE!

As can be seen above, there is ABSOLUTELY NO STATEMENT in the above code that expressly permits the use of the "GLUTEN FRIENDLY" term within Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, use of the gluten friendly term is ILLEGAL within Australia and New Zealand and is not permitted to be used in describing ANY food product whatsoever! NOT ALLOWED, ILLEGAL! Legally, the "gluten friendly" DOES NOT EXIST!

Businesses using the illegal "GLUTEN FRIENDLY" claim:

Below are some businesses within Australia and New Zealand who are currently using the prohibited "Gluten Friendly" description on their products.  Each have been taken to task individually.

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Comments 6 comments

karen  6 years ago

as far as i can see the excerpt you've given shows that as long as they are under the 20 mg gluten per 100 g of the food they CAN claim gluten friendly (aka low gluten), not illegal at all.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 6 years ago from Australia Author

karen - the 'gluten friendly' term is not expressed in the above code. 'Low Gluten' is! You can twist the facts all you like but when a product is labelled as 'low gluten' it MUST NOT come into contact with any barley malt or oats. Our laws are strict, I know. But businesses need to switch on to the fact that claims CANNOT be made in relation to gluten content of food AT ALL unless permitted by that code mentioned above.


Issac 5 years ago

I think you need to stop posting these rude comments. Surely not everything you do in life is legal. Why should businesses be forced when they don't do so to us? Come on!


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Businesses are benefiting from partaking in illegal activity in this day and age, particularly with regard to 'gluten free' labelling in Australia. It is this that I am taking objection to. Claims in relation to gluten content of food are prohibited unless expressly permitted by the code mentioned above. Manufacturing firms and Restaurants alike must abide by the laws at all times. Does that answer your question?


Anonymous 5 years ago

You have not shown that this term is illegal. They are not claiming it to be gluten free. There is no law that you have shown us that says anything about the term "gluten-friendly". If there's no law about the use of the term, then how the heck can it be illegal?! Does there have to be allowing them to use the term? What a slippery slope that would be! "Gluten friendly" doesn't say ANYTHING about the gluten content of the food! You have not shown that there is a law against using the term. Stop attacking companies that are just trying to give those of us with coeliac disease some food options so that we don't have to sit and not eat anything when we go out with people! We coeliacs aren't stupid. We know how to ask about cross-contamination and determine whether we feel safe eating a particular food.


infonolan profile image

infonolan 5 years ago from Australia Author

Anonymous - had you carefully observed the above FSANZ laws governing the labelling of the nutrition term ka 'gluten', the only claims permitted within Australia and New Zealand include:

gluten free,

low gluten,

contains gluten,

high in gluten, (any other term stating that gluten is present is also permitted)

All other claims with relation to gluten content of food (including 'gluten friendly' or 'gluten absent' etc.) are not allowed in Australia and New Zealand as it does not fit the code. Hope this helps.

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