Many probiotics taken to promote gut health are having the opposite effect on those with celiac disease according to a new study by Columbia University. More than half of the probiotics tested in the study contained gluten, a protein that could be present in foods and dietary supplements and cause gastrointestinal inflammation for those suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Companies aiming to gain consumer trust in gluten-free claims have turned to global public health organization NSF International to test and certify nearly 600 products, including 73 dietary supplements. The NSF International “Certified Gluten-Free” label provides an added level of assurance to consumers, especially the more than 3 million Americans with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
In 2011, NSF International developed a voluntary gluten-free standard and certification program, which verifies that certified products contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten, a limit set by the U.S. FDA for foods labeled as “gluten-free,” “without gluten,” “free of gluten” or “no gluten.” In addition to product testing, NSF International audits the manufacturing facilities to ensure the manufacturing process prevents gluten contamination of products and reviews the formulations to ensure that the ingredients used are gluten-free.
Widespread cross-contamination of source ingredients means that even manufacturers who singularly produce gluten-free products must incorporate adequate testing and verification protocols into their operating procedures. The stringent nature of NSF International gluten-free certification helps to ensure prevention of contamination and co-mingling during manufacturing; preventive measures critically important for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
“NSF International’s gluten-free label brings transparency and trust to people who need gluten-free foods as part of maintaining their healthy diet, and provides essential brand protection and assurance to the food and dietary supplement producers, retailers and restaurants seeking to meet the needs of these consumers,” said Jaclyn Bowen, Director of the NSF International’s Gluten-Free Certification Program. “This truly independent approval process meets the FDA gluten-free labeling regulation to fill the gap between unsubstantiated claims and consumer demand for bona fide gluten-free products. In a sea of unsubstantiated claims, seals and logos, consumers and retailers need a certification that is science-based and verified through inspections and product testing.”
Several resources are available to help educate the industry on requirements for gluten-free foods and dietary supplements:
- White Paper: Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods provides an overview of the gluten-free regulatory requirement which applies to all FDA-regulated packaged foods, including dietary supplements.
- NSF Gluten-Free Readiness Tool helps food and dietary supplement manufacturing facilities identify potential gaps in food safety management systems and the necessary steps to take to implement an effective gluten control program.
NSF International has significant expertise in the dietary supplement industry, having developed the official American National Standard for dietary supplements (NSF/ANSI 173) and testing and certifying dietary supplements to this standard for more than 12 years.
To learn more about NSF gluten-free certification, contact Jonathan Lackie at 858.200.9708 or [email protected], or visit NSF’s website.