We all go to the store, read labels and sometimes the “GF” symbol or words “gluten-free” give us the information we need to decide which food to buy.

New research looks at whether foods with the gluten free claim really ARE gluten free.  Since companies are not required to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rules until August 5, 2014 these tests were done on food prior to the official federal regulations.  As a reminder, the new FDA regulations say if you are a company that wants to label a product gluten free, it must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten (click here to read all the details on the FDA rule). 

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD and owner and founder of Gluten-Free Watchdog and Thomas Grace, CEO of  Bia Diagnostics tested 112 gluten-free labeled products between April 2011 and May 2013, to see if they truly were.  The entire pdf of the Practical Gastroenterology article can be found here.

Are Gluten Free Labeled Products Really Gluten Free?

Overall, the bottom line is yes, for the most part they are.  The article says, “[Gluten free]consumers can take comfort in the knowledge that the vast majority of manufacturers who are designating food as [gluten free] are complying with the FDA’s labeling rule.”

Researchers purchased each product in triplicate and different lots (when possible).  This is done to guard against lab error. They bought everything from gluten free bread to cereal to snack food. In total, 336 packages of food representing 112 products were tested in duplicate for a total of 672 extractions (or samples). Overall, 97.5% of the extractions were below 20 ppm.

Of those extractions in compliance, 93% tested below 5 ppm!

I talked with Thompson earlier this week about GlutenFreeWatchdog.org before this study came out.  At that time she said that the low test results have been a big surprise, “When testing started, I expected to see more results in the range of 5-<20 parts per million of gluten.  But that is not what we’re seeing,” Thompson said.  “Manufacturers who are doing this right are really doing it right with most products testing below 5 parts per million.”

All this testing takes a LOT of careful work.  Why does Thompson do it?  Click here to read my one-on-one interview with her to find out.  Also learn how you can get her exclusive test results.

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