What is Gluten Free 

 Originally Written: January 11, 2013

By  Hanna Trafford

What does it mean when you see signs and labels on products that say “Gluten Free”? There are now clear guidelines for regulations and implementations set by Health Canada.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in foods made with wheat, barley and other grains. It can also be founds in some medicines, vitamins and even lipsticks.

Gluten intolerance – also called a Celiac disease is a chronic allergy that effects small intestine. It is manifested by digestive problems and can cause serious complications of not treated in time. In Celiac disease, the immune reaction to gluten creates toxins that damage the small intestines, decreasing body’s ability to absorb nutrients.This leads to malnutrition.

It is important to see your doctor who will administer tests to confirm the disease and prescribe treatment. The treatment will most likely mean eliminating all dietary gluten, avoiding most bread products, cakes, cookies, beer and even products like ice cream, where gluten is sometimes used as a stabilizing ingredient.

Here are the guidelines for gluten free products as set out by Heath Canada:

  1. No ingredients that contain and gluten proteins from barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat, including kamut and spelt have been deliberately added to the product.
  2. No ingredients that contain modified or hydrolyzed proteins from those same grains have been deliberately added to the product.
  3. Gluten levels in the product from accidental gluten contamination are less than 20 parts per million (ppm)
  4. Good manufacturing practices have been used to minimize the risk of accidental contamination from gluten grains.
  5. Any ingredients made from gluten grain have been processed to remove the gluten protein using methods that have been demonstrated to be effective. Wheat glucose syrup and wheat maltodextrin are ingredients that fit in this category.
  6. Recognized testing methodologies have been used to measure gluten levels.

Hope this information was helpful to you and that you will share experiences you have – your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!


Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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