Third POW Clue: Certified Gluten-Free
Welcome to the third clue of our Protein POW products! We’re unveiling them in all their glory next week, along with a brand new version of this website! Sign up to our POW newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our massive launch. For now though, allow me to introduce you to our third clue:
Our Products are Certified Gluten Free
It may not sound like much to you – after all, a lot of products nowadays claim to be gluten-free. But did you know that many of them actually aren’t? That’s right. Here in the UK, there have been several product recalls recently, the last one just a few months ago.
In the US too, several products claiming to be gluten-free have been found to actually contain gluten. Last year, research by the FDA published in the journal of Food Chemistry found that out of 100 products labeled as gluten-free, 1.1 percent of them actually weren’t. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that, out of 158 packaged foods labeled as ‘gluten-free,’ 5 percent of them failed to pass the base threshold necessary to be qualified as actually gluten-free.
What does it take for a product to be gluten-free?
For a product to be gluten-free – and suitable for coeliacs, it has to be made using no gluten-containing ingredients. It also has to be manufactured and packaged in a facility that has been certified as gluten-free. The product then has to be tested in a lab, using one of the ELISA tests (usually the ‘sandwich ELISA’ and/or a competitive R5 ELISA method; check out this video of the ELISA sandwich test being done – it’s RIVETING, hehe). For a product to be certifiable as gluten-free, the test/s need to show that it contains under 20 ppm (part per million) of gluten.
How do you know if a product that you think is gluten-free actually isn’t?
There are two ways to find out if the food you’re eating is gluten-free. The first is fool-proof and the second more tricky:
- UK: Look for a certification stamp on the product’s packaging that is accompanied by a license number. The latter is important, particularly in the UK, because there are a lot of copycat stamps out there – stamps that are designed to LOOK like certification stamps to give you the impression that the products have been certified when, in actuality, they haven’t. What do certification stamps look like? In the UK, they look like this.
US: If a product is gluten-free in the US, its label needs to read “Gluten-free,” “Free of gluten,” “No gluten,” “Without gluten.” There are some accreditation societies (like this, this, and this) available for companies to get a certification and use a particular icon on their packaging to give consumers further peace of mind. But the FDA does not endorse any of them in particular. The onus rests on the manufacturers: either they claim their products to be gluten-free without certification, therefore becoming liable if their products are found to contain gluten. Or they get their products certified, in that way letting their customers know that their products have been rigorously tested – and approved.
- Along these lines, keep an eye out for products saying ‘no gluten containing ingredients,’ both in the UK and US. Why? Because remember, for a product to be gluten-free, it must not only say that it has ‘no gluten-containing ingredients’, it must also be manufactured and packaged in a gluten-free certified facility, which some of these products are not (this being why they can’t openly claim to be ‘gluten-free.’) Remember, FDA regulations apply only to products labeled as “Gluten-free,” “Free of gluten,” “No gluten,” “Without gluten.”
Our Road to Here
When I was formulating our Protein Pow products, I was adamant that they HAD to be gluten-free. Not just superficially so, like most of the protein powders, protein foods, and protein drinks out there which claim to be gluten-free yet have probably never been tested. I wanted our products to be certified gluten-free and 100% friendly to coeliacs. It was quite a journey to get there but alas, a few months ago we received our stamp and we’re going to absolutely rock it! Because, for some strange reason, here in the UK especially, manufacturers of healthy foods and protein-containing products feel like they can just claim to be gluten-free without jumping through the trillion hoops one has to jump through to make sure one’s ingredients and manufacturing/packaging facilities pass the test. That’s not us though. We’re not here to just make claims, we’re here to back them up.