There is currently no cure for those suffering from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, nor is there any on the horizon. The only mitigation or treatment is a strict gluten-free diet.
The global frequency of celiac disease in the general population is approximately 1%, with some regional differences. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity has recently been recognized by the scientific community as a gluten-related disorder and is triggered by gluten ingestion.
Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitive patients can experience around 300 different signs and symptoms, such as bloating, cramping, chronic fatigue, and weight loss. The only mitigation option for those who are afflicted is to dedicate themselves to a 100% gluten-free diet, which is very difficult. Research has shown that without a gluten-free diet, the long-term effects can lead to very serious health consequences. The scientific consensus is that the safe level for most of these persons is 10 mg of gluten per day, which is equivalent to 17 one-ounce servings of labelled gluten-free food
BRCGS’ Global Standard Gluten-Free is founded upon proven, globally recognized, science-based food safety protocols, and adopts a management system approach to the control of gluten in its certificated sites. This approach reduces the risks associated with relying on end-product gluten testing which is a feature of other certifications.
One of the key requirements of the Standard, and where it differs from other certification programs, is that the intentional addition of gluten is not permitted for any product bearing any of its trademarks. This means that no gluten containing grain can be intentionally added in any quantity as an ingredient, regardless of the total gluten content of the finished product.
This approach to the control of gluten has led to the Standard being endorsed by the two major coeliac associations in North America – Beyond Celiac in the USA and Celiac Canada. Both associations lend their gluten-free trademarks to the GFCP for certificated sites and their Private Label customers to display on consumer-facing packaging of gluten-free products.
In addition to endorsement by these associations, BRCGS has also reached agreements with the Association for European Coeliac Associations, and ACELMEX in Latin and South America for the use of their trademarks in the Program. BRCGS also has its own Informed Gluten-Free trademark for use on products sold in regions which are not already covered by a dedicated coeliac association trademark.
A factor which contributes to consumers failing to correctly distinguish gluten-containing ingredients is that they have difficulty choosing appropriate gluten-free foods based on product labeling information alone. Most consumers will be familiar with the main gluten-containing grains (rye, barley, wheat) but many will be unable to recognise some or all of the less-commonly recognised ones such as spelt, kamut, farro, cous cous and seitan.
Products displaying Global Standard Gluten-Free trademarks at the point of purchase assist consumers by removing the stress of drilling down through a complicated list of ingredients that the manufacturer might have changed without warning, possibly adding gluten to a previously trusted gluten-free product. This means that consumers have come to trust products bearing these trademarks to such an extent that if they see it, they pick it up.