Health Canada Allows For Conditional Use Of Gluten-Free Oats

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The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) and Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) are proud to speak to Health Canada’s recent announcement now allowing gluten-free oats to be marketed, in Canada.

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"We are pleased that Health Canada has made important changes that will benefit the celiac community by now allowing gluten-free claims on specially produced oats and products containing these oats,” says Anne Wraggett, President of the CCA

On May 29, 2015, Health Canada announced the registration of a Marketing Authorization (MA), effective immediately, which now permits the use of gluten-free claims for gluten-free oats and foods that contain oats as ingredients. The MA is a prelude to an official regulatory change, which is being developed. All stakeholders should be aware that, unlike the unlimited use of oats in gluten-free products available in the USA, there are restrictions for gluten-free oat products sold in Canada.

a) Food products may not contain oats unless they are specially produced "gluten-free oats" (i.e. agronomic and handling practices in place to ensure that they contain no more than 20 ppm of gluten);
b) The finished product does not contain greater than 20 ppm of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains;
c) Food products may not contain intentionally added gluten from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains; and
d) The "gluten-free oats" are clearly identified as such, in all cases where 'oats' are referenced, including in the list of ingredients.

This decision was rendered after a lengthy consultation and scientific assessment of the safety for consumers. It also recognizes several other issues:

1. Oats provide a nutritious source of proteins, carbohydrates and especially fibre. Eating foods made with “gluten-free oats” provides a wider choice of grain and cereal-type foods for people with celiac disease. Maintaining a gluten-free diet can be a challenge because of limited food choices. Introducing “gluten-free oats” to those eating gluten free could help people better cope with the limitations of the diet.

2. Only “gluten-free oats” which requires the management of potential sources for contamination at production, harvest, storage, transportation and milling or some other processing method to achieve not more than 20 ppm of gluten are allowed either as a food or as an ingredient in a gluten-free food.

3. “Gluten-free oats” must appear as the common name or in the list of ingredients, when making a gluten-free food product claim.

For more information, see http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/cel-coe/avoine-gluten-oats-eng.php

Stakeholders need to be aware that, although the regulations for “gluten-free oats” and gluten-free products containing oats have been liberalized, the above conditions for Canada will apply.

“We are very excited about the prospect of expanding the GFCP to include gluten-free oat products in Canada,” says Frank Massong, Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Services at the Allergen Control Group, owners of the GFCP. “The GFCP and its management system approach are complementary to this regulatory change for Canada as it needs to ensure that the necessary level of protection for persons with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is consistently attained.”

Amendments to the GFCP will be made immediately to accommodate this change for Canada. The GFCP requires a gluten-free management system that requires, among other things, that all ingredients and inputs must be gluten-free as well as a gluten-free end product.

"We are pleased that Health Canada has made important changes that will benefit the celiac community by now allowing gluten-free claims on specially produced oats and products containing these oats,” says Anne Wraggett, President of the Canadian Celiac Association. “The term 'gluten-free oats' on labels, combined with our GFCP trademark, will make it much easier for the gluten-free consumer to continue identifying products that they can safely eat."

The GFCP is a voluntary program designed for manufacturers and brand owners committed to producing safe and reliable gluten-free products. The program combines stringent, risk-based gluten-free requirements with globally recognized food safety management systems, which exceed government requirements in both Canada and the United States. It is verified by an annual robust, third-party facility audit process which ensures continued compliance. Consumers can now shop with confidence across North America and know that the products they are purchasing meet the industry’s strictest gluten-free requirements when they see the GFCP trademarks. The Canadian Celiac Association and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in the USA endorse the GFCP.

About the Allergen Control Group Inc. (ACG)
The Allergen Control Group Inc. is a privately held corporation, which owns and operates the GFCP on a global basis and is endorsed exclusively by the CCA in Canada and the NFCA in the USA. http://www.glutenfreecert.com

About the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA)
The Canadian Celiac Association is the national voice for people who are adversely affected by gluten, and is dedicated to improving diagnosis and quality of life. For more information, visit http://www.celiac.ca

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Heather Nelson
Allergen Control Group
+1 866-817-0952 Ext: 231
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Frank Massong
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