What’s in a Label?
When shopping for Natural Health Supplements and healthy foods, it is common to see numerous logos touting the benefits of various products. These labels provide important information to people with specific dietary needs. For example, the treatment of Celiac disease involves strict avoidance of gluten, proteins often found in products containing wheat and other grains. Gluten-free labeling helps consumers differentiate between products that are suitable for people with Celiac disease and those products that are best avoided.
But many people will notice that there are a variety of gluten-free logos. Some of these look more official than others. They all seem to communicate the same information - that these products are safe for people following a gluten-free diet. So, what is the difference between these logos and is there any reason to choose products bearing one logo over another?
When it comes to shopping for gluten-free products, it is important to choose products bearing certified seals. The gluten-free certification process is a demanding one, requiring companies that manufacture and/or package these products follow strict guidelines in sourcing and handling raw material, and further require regular audits to ensure that these measures are following precise guidelines. The Gluten-Free Certification Program, which is required for products with logos that bear the endorsement of the Canadian Celiac Association and Beyond Celiac, is an example of a rigorous, trustworthy operation. Most certified gluten-free seals can be traced back to the certifying company, allowing consumers to perform due diligence.
That said, sometimes all it takes is using a little common sense. A whole banana should not need a gluten-free logo because it is inherently gluten-free and will always be gluten-free. Whole bananas should never be exposed to gluten or gluten-containing products on their way from the plantation to your kitchen counter. Banana flour, however, is a different story. Depending on how those bananas are processed and packaged, there may be opportunities for contamination by gluten-containing products. Even packaging banana flour in the same facility that packages wheat products may be enough to cause cross-contamination. In this situation, gluten-free certification is critical in determining whether the product is suitable for people with Celiac disease.
Gluten-free shopping is certainly easier today than it was twenty years ago, but the proliferation of gluten-free language has muddied the waters. When in doubt over the validity of a given gluten-free logo, speak to your health professional. They can help you determine which logos are safe, and this will allow you to quickly pick out appropriate products when you are at the store.