Gluten free in the land down under

The predominant food regulatory body of Australia and New Zealand has laid down what has been called the “toughest labeling laws in the world,” including its standards for gluten-free products.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, a regulatory body made up of the governments of the two countries and their states/territories, foods must meet certain guidelines to be labeled “gluten-free.” They must be independently tested, with a certificate verifying less than three parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

These gluten-free products must contain no oats in their ingredients, or gluten-containing grains that have used malt. If even a single ingredient was derived from a gluten-containing grain, it must be labeled, no matter how little the amount.

These regulations apply to all food sold or prepared for sale in the two countries, as well as imported food.

Foods can be labeled as “low gluten,” but only if they have less than 200 ppm of gluten. Studies have shown that gluten-free or low gluten-labeled foods often still contain trace amounts of gluten, so screening is essential so that food processors can ensure they’ve reduced the risk of cross-contamination with gluten in the facility.

Gluten-free lifestyles

Gluten actually consists of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin, and there are plenty of reasons why some people avoid them in their diets.

Some people are gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant, which means their bodies produce and abnormal immune response when breaking down gluten during digestion. This includes diarrhea, chronic fatigue and headaches.

The most well-known version of this is celiac disease. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients.

Some grains are gluten free, like corn, quinoa, rice, tapioca, teff and many kinds of oats. Savvy consumers rely on accurate labeling to make sure the food they eat contains only the grains they can eat, and not the ones that make them sick.

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