Food Safety Level 2 (VTQ)

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Gluten free foods and Coeliac Disease

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Coeliac Disease and Gluten Labelling Standards in the UK

Understanding Coeliac Disease

Around 1% of people in the UK suffer from coeliac disease, also known as gluten intolerance. It is a lifelong autoimmune condition triggered by the immune system's reaction to gluten.

Importance of Gluten Labelling

Labelling claims regarding gluten in foods are crucial due to:

  • The need for accurate information to make safe food choices.
  • The risk of severe reactions if food is contaminated with gluten.
  • Symptoms can include swollen stomach, extreme pain, and cramps.
  • Although not life-threatening like allergies such as peanuts, it significantly impacts quality of life.

European Commission Labelling Standards

The European Commission has established labelling standards based on scientific evidence:

  • 'Gluten-free': Contains 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten or less.
  • 'Very low gluten': Contains 100 ppm of gluten or less, applicable only to specially processed cereals.

These standards apply to all foods, whether pre-packed or sold loose, ensuring safety for coeliacs.

Public Health Measures

The new labelling standards serve as a public health measure to:

  • Protect the long-term health of coeliacs.
  • Empower coeliacs to make informed food choices.

Guidance and Support

The Food Standards Agency provides:

  • Guidance on compliance with the regulations.
  • Advice for caterers on providing gluten information for unpackaged foods.
  • Consumer information to raise awareness of the labelling rules.

For more detailed guidance and resources, visit the Food Standards Agency.