Q: I just bought a product labeled gluten-free but it has this statement: "this product was manufactured in a plant that also processes wheat products.” I am very confused, is it still ok to eat?
A lot of manufacturers put these advisory statements on their products and this can be very confusing for the consumer. An important thing to note is that these statements are voluntary and not required. What action you need to take depends on if the product is labeled gluten-free or not.
- Foods labeled gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten regardless of ingredients or cross-contact per Food and Drug Administration FDA regulations.1 In your case the product was labeled gluten-free so it has to adhere to the limit of 20 ppm.
- For foods that are NOT labeled gluten-free safety must be investigated on an individual basis. We recommend that you contact the manufacturer for more detailed information about processing procedures. Here are some questions to ask:
- Is gluten used on the same belt/equipment?
- Do you have a cleaning process between products
- What are your procedures for preventing cross-contact? 2
An important thing to note is to not confuse voluntary advisory statements with allergen statements. The top 8 allergens have to be disclosed under the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and include:
- Tree nuts
An allergen will be listed in one of two ways:
- In a contains statement following the ingredient listing Example: CONTAINS WHEAT
- or in parenthesis following the ingredient containing the allergen within the ingredient listing. Example: Enriched flour (wheat) 3
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Questions & Answers: Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule. FDA Website: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/questions-and-answers-gluten-free-food-labeling-final-rule . Accessed on October 29, 2019.
- National Celiac Association. Gluten-Free, Off to A Fresh Start. Presentation. May 4, 2018.
- US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Labeling Act of 2004, Questions And Answers. FDA Website. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm106890.htm#q9. Published December 2, 2005. Updated July 18, 2006. Accessed October 29, 2019.
Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.