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Celiac disease group accused of manipulating gluten-free standards

Lana Bandoim's picture

A national celiac disease group in Australia has been accused of trying to manipulate gluten-free standards in order to please food manufacturers. Coeliac Australia, a nonprofit association dedicated to supporting people with the disorder, states that the current standard of 3 ppm of gluten is unrealistic and must be changed. However, some members of the celiac disease community believe the organization is working with food brands against them.


In Australia, gluten-free products must not contain more than 3 ppm or parts per million of gluten. Coeliac Australia would like to see this standard changed to the more common 20 ppm seen in the United States and other parts of the world. Manufacturers have struggled to comply with the lower standard and would prefer to see it changed. An application has been submitted, and the celiac disease community is concerned their views will be ignored amid manipulations by the nonprofit.

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Some manufacturers believe the Australian gluten standard is too strict and prevents them from being able to fully participate in the market. However, people who suffer from celiac disease and must stay on a gluten-free diet are worried that raising the standards sets a bad precedent. Based on current research, it is not clear what the standard should be because damage to the intestines can occur at a range of levels. Celiac disease sufferers have varying degrees of tolerance for the protein, so damage is difficult to measure and predict.

The gluten-free food industry has surpassed $20 billion a year, so brands view it as a lucrative area. The celiac disease community in Australia has voiced its concerns about giving in to the demands of manufacturers instead of research. Complaints have ranged from the silencing of voices to unrealistic safety statements. Members of the organization have promised to continue investigating the standards.

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