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What does gluten-free mean?

  • Editorial Staff
  • August 2013
  • 2 min read

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently established the official “gluten-free” label, which holds packaged food products to a set of standards that establish them as safe to consume for anyone following a gluten-free diet. Among those standards, the food product must contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten, a level considered by experts to be safe for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. For people with gluten-related disorders or gluten intolerance, strictly avoiding gluten is critical to maintaining good health.

Consumers can also look for the following gluten-free seals on the food product:

  • Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) Certified Gluten-Free seal
  • NSF’s Certified Gluten-Free seal
  • Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) Certified Gluten-Free seal, endorsed by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA    

Each of the seals indicates that the company’s manufacturing facility was inspected and the product meets FDA standards of containing less than 20 ppm of gluten (and in some cases containing less than 10 ppm of gluten).

Many foods are naturally gluten-free, including milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, butter, eggs, lentils, nuts, seeds and corn. However, some other common ingredients are not. Check the “contains” line under the ingredient list on the product’s nutrition panel.

If the product contains any of these ingredients, it is not gluten-free:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats (unless GF certified)
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Triticale
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Semolina
  • Spelt/spelta
  • Faro
  • Emmer
  • Kamut® khorasan wheat.


Gluten Intolerance Group | Food and Drug Administration