Gluten free: the new edition of the Bioagricert standard has been published

 shutterstock 530711188Bioagricert has recently published a new edition of the standard for the certification of gluten-free products.
The new standard incorporates all the regulatory updates and experiences in the sector and defines the requirements for third-party certification of "gluten-free" or "very low gluten" food products suitable or specifically formulated for people intolerant to gluten.

The field of application of the standard which, until now, included agri-food products, food supplements, ingredients for the food industry, has also been extended to gastronomic preparations obtained in businesses and catering establishments and to pet food.

Cereals containing gluten, such as wheat, make up much of the modern Western diet. This is, in part, due to their palatability, ease of cultivation and processing into a wide variety of foods, large-scale production capacity and high nutritional content.

Glutenin and gliadin contained in gluten must be digested in the small intestinal lumen after consumption. They are long peptide molecules difficult to digest for humans and are rich in two amino acids: proline and glutamine.

New gluten peptides may come from genetic modification resulting from modern agricultural practices. In foods more immuno-activating gluten peptides can be observed. Gluten-derived peptides, such as gliadin and glutenin in wheat, but also secaline in rye and ordein in barley, have been identified as important antigen-producing proteins in celiac patients.

An important right for people suffering from celiac disease is to have clear information on foods about their suitability for a gluten-free diet. The Reg. CE No. 41 of 2009, replaced by Reg. EC Nº 828 of 2014, currently in force, established the conditions of use of the words "gluten-free" which guarantee celiacs, both on packaged products and on those sold in bulk, a maximum content of 20 mg/kg of gluten.

The company that indicates its food product as "gluten-free" must therefore guarantee both the absence of ingredients containing gluten, but also the absence of the danger of contamination.

Furthermore, the EC Reg. No. 828/2014 established that the wording "gluten-free" can be followed by the indications "specifically formulated for celiacs - people intolerant to gluten" or "suitable for celiacs - people intolerant to gluten".

The first wording can only be used for foods where the gluten, traditionally present, is reduced or replaced (bread, pasta, biscuits, etc.). The use of the wording is voluntary, but it becomes mandatory for products included in the National Register of gluten-free foods (RNA), made available to celiac people by the National Health Service (NHS).

The words "suitable for celiacs - people intolerant to gluten" can, instead, be used for any food, always in combination with "gluten-free", provided that the absence of raw materials containing gluten and the absence of contamination is guaranteed.

The only prohibition is on all foods that never contain gluten (e.g., water or traditional cheeses), so the claim would be superfluous and potentially misleading for the consumer, that would be led to believe that only products with the wording were suitable, when instead the whole category is suitable for celiacs.

Cereals containing gluten, such as wheat or barley, are considered allergenic within the meaning of the European Regulation (Reg. 1169 of 2011). According to this Regulation (Article 9), all food business operators are required to declare the presence - in the finished product - of allergens used in the preparation of a food and still present in the finished product, whether it is a packaged food, whether it is a dish served in a restaurant.

On the other hand, the European legislator has not yet regulated the words "may contain ..." and, now, its absence does not offer the same guarantees as the use of the "gluten-free" claim.

The objective of the Bioagricert standard and certification scheme is to provide companies a tool for the implementation of best production practices and is subject to regular consultation of stakeholders also within the review processes.

Certification allows manufacturers to ensure the conformity of their products and make credible statements to consumers.

The mark is granted exclusively to companies that are subject to specific controls carried out by BAC and that obtain certification of compliance with the STANDARD