Health Canada has issued a proposed policy intent that would update current gluten-free labeling guidelines to reduce risks related to the accidental consumption of undeclared gluten and expand choices for consumers following a gluten-free diet.

Gluten, a protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, barley and rye, can trigger the autoimmune disorder celiac disease (CD). Although oats do not contain gluten, food products containing oats currently cannot use the term “gluten-free” on labeling in the event they have been inadvertently contaminated with gluten from other grains during harvesting, processing or transportation. Since that policy was enacted, however, Health Canada has concluded that individuals with CD who can tolerate oats may benefit from consumption of uncontaminated oats (those “specifically produced to be free of gluten from other cereals”). The agency is accepting public comments until July 11, 2010. See Health Canada Website, May 10, 2010.