The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a joint effort of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses, among other duties, sets the standard of gluten content allowed in a food product to be considered “gluten-free” for international trade.
The 31st Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission approved the Codex Standard for Foods for Special Dietary Use for Persons Intolerant to Gluten (Codex Stan 118-1979) on July 1, 2008.
Highlights of the Standard include:
- Gluten-free foods do not contain wheat, rye, barley, oats or their crossbred varieties and the gluten level does not exceed 20mg/kg [20 parts per million] in total, based on the food as sold or distributed to the consumer And/or
- Gluten-free foods may contain one or more ingredients from wheat, rye, barley oats or their crossbred varieties which have been specially processed to remove gluten and the gluten level does not exceed 20mg/kg [20 ppm] in total, based on the food as sold or distributed to the consumer.
- The allowance of pure, uncontaminated oats may be determined at the national level.
- Foods specially processed to reduce gluten content to a level between 20 and 100mg/kg [20ppm-100ppm] based on the food as sold or distributed to the consumer must not be labeled gluten-free. Labeling terms for such products (eg. low gluten, reduced gluten) and decisions for marketing may be determined at the national level, but must indicate the true nature of the food.
- Naturally gluten-free foods shall not be designated “special dietary”, “special dietetic” or any other equivalent term, but may bear a statement on the label that “this food is by its nature gluten-free”.
Full text of the Codex Standard for Foods for Special Dietary Use for Persons Intolerant to Gluten.
The 29th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary
Uses.The report includes all areas considered at the session in Germany. To find the sections on “gluten-free” definition and labeling, use the search option of the pdf.
Self-management is the key to living a full life, gluten-free. Personal application must be based on understanding one's own body and situation.