Deglutenous were very curious to know what has been happening in regards to the gluten free labelling law changes we were hearing about so frequently and why everything has gone quiet. Especially because since we wrote this article explaining exactly what having the labelling laws changed to 20 parts per million (ppm) would mean for people with Coeliac Disease and gluten intolerance, the US has had a very similar law approved.
Quick explanation of the proposed gluten free law amendments
The Australian Food and Groceries Commission (AFGC) are in the process of submitting an application to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) to change the definition of ‘gluten free’. The fact the application is still in the process of being submitted is the reason for things going quiet and word on the street it is still probably 6 months away, but these things always take longer than expected. The application seeks to change the minimum measurement for gluten in food from no-detectable gluten to less than 20ppm. Just to clarify current tests can only measure up to 3ppm so anything less than this can be labelled gluten free.
Law, law, law. It seems to be somewhat of a silly topic on a gluten free website but in this instance it is important to understand all the changes so you can refute anything you might disagree with and in the future understand the way it will change the way you shop for your daily gluten free sustenance.
What happens now?
Now you may be thinking this is going to be a dull read but if you have any issues with the proposed changes you will want to have a chance to state your piece. We have put together the below to help you understand when you will have the chance to share your opinions as it is part of the rather lengthy process to allow for general public feedback. So here it is...
Firstly the AFGC needs to complete the application and consult with FSANZ but once that is done, the steps will look something like the following;
- AFGC will submit their application to FSANZ.
- FSANZ will review the application from an administrative perspective and if happy, formal notify AFGC of their acceptance, place it on the work plan (a schedule of applications to be dealt with) and begin the early bird public notification to let everyone know the application is being considered.
- This is followed by a formal assessment of the application to consider the costs and benefits. At this point the application will be shared with the public and we will be able to make submissions.
- Taking the application and public submissions into account FSANZ will then draw up a draft food regulatory measure or maybe reject the application.
- If the draft food regulatory measure varies wildly from the original application AFGC will be given 10 days to consider it, at the end of this 10 days there will be another period allowed for public submissions.
- When submissions close and if the amendment is approved, FSANZ will prepare a report detailing elements such as the decision, reasons, submissions list, analysis and approved food regulatory measure.
- There will be notification of the approved food regulatory measure to the Forum (for ministerial consideration of the amendments), who can request a review of the decision (although they only have the opportunity to do this once).
- If within 60 days the Forum has advised they have no reason to review the approval decision then it will be recorded in a gazette notice.
- FSANZ then communicate their decisions via a Notification Circular and press releases.
How do you stay in the loop with the gluten free law changes?
Calls for comment are issued on the FSANZ website and available to the public to read. They are sent out via email alerts, to which you can subscribe to, that way you won't miss anything! If you want to weigh in on the debate you best sign up now.
How long will the process take?
If the process is as straight forward as is detailed above (which it surely won't be) it would take approximately 18 months. So, to take a stab in the dark this is probably at least 2 years off becoming the new law but we all have a vested interest in ensuring gluten free measurements remain at levels safe for those with Coeliac Disease and gluten intolerance. If you want to know more, read our article on the proposed gluten free labelling changes.
What gluten free laws were approved in the USA?
And just in case you are interested, the laws recently passed in America were their first around gluten free labelling. Previously they didn't have any official laws (what?!) and it took 6 years to get to this decision! They too have gluten free regulations stating any product must contain less than 20ppm of gluten to carry the 'gluten free' claim. The claim 'made with no gluten-containing ingredients' does not have to comply with the ruling. This is the exact reason to be well aware of new laws regarding gluten free and have a good understanding of them because this sounds like a little bit of a loop hole.
The 'gluten-free' label does not replace the need to comply with mandatory allergen labelling requiring wheat and the other gluten sources to be listed. Europe, the UK, Canada and the USA all have regulations stating that any product tested and returning less than 20ppm can be deemed 'gluten free'. Useful to know when travelling in case your body doesn't like that level of gluten.
Australia could shortly have these laws too and if you aren't happy about that (or even if you are) you should follow the ensuing application closely to stay ahead of the changes. This way you will know exactly what 'gluten free' means.