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Label Reading

What to know

when it comes to reading labels

The FDA states that a product can be labeled gluten free if it contains less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. It is a voluntary label, not an official certification, and can sometimes not be accurate. Even when a product has a gluten free claim, it is always important to check the ingredient list and allergen statements.

Wheat Free is Not Gluten Free

"Wheat-free" does not necessarily mean "gluten-free." Wheat is a common source of gluten, but there are other sources of gluten as well, such as barley, rye, and oats. Therefore, a product that is labeled as "wheat-free" may still contain gluten from other sources. It's important to look for the words "gluten-free" on the label, and also to check for the presence of wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Additionally, you should look for a gluten-free certification symbol, such as the one from the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) or other certifying bodies, to ensure that the product has been independently tested and verified as being gluten-free. It's also important to be aware of possible sources of cross-contamination such as "may contain gluten" or "processed in a facility that also processes wheat" statements on the packaging. And if you have any doubts, it's always a good idea to check with the manufacturer before consuming a product. The wheat free claim is for those with wheat allergies.

Wheat Starch

Wheat starch, is only considered safe for people with celiac disease or gluten related disorders, if it has been processed to have the gluten protein removed, tested to contain less than 20ppm of gluten, and clearly labeled gluten free, ideally with a 3rd party certification label, but it is not safe for those with an allergy to wheat. Concentrations of gluten in wheat starch can vary, which is why wheat starch must be labeled gluten free. The Gluten Intolerance Group (GiG) is one of the top 3rd party certification organizations. While the FDA requires companies that use wheat starch to ensure that that the finished product meets their 20ppm of gluten or less requirement, GiG’s Certified Gluten Free claim requires companies to test for 10ppm or less. Wheat starch is more commonly used in Europe, then the United States, but it is growing in popularity. Schar is a well-known brand that has been using it in their products for years. Click below to read more from them about wheat starch.


Oats need special consideration. Someone with celiac disease should only consume oats that have been tested and certified by an independent 3rd party organization. Due to the way oats are milled and processed, often in the same fields and facilities as wheat, barley and rye, cross contact with gluten is very common, making them not gluten free. There is also a small percentage of people with celiac disease who cannot consume certified gluten free oats because they react to them as if they have consumed gluten. When oats are listed in the ingredient list, look for information about them being either certified gluten free oats or gluten free purity protocol oats.

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