The Australian Food and Grocery Council is proposing that Food Standards Australia New Zealand alter the definition of 'gluten-free' to allow foods that contain up to 20 milligrams of gluten per kilogram to still be called 'gluten-free'.
Currently, under Standard 1.2.3 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code), a food business must declare the presence of any gluten in its food product.
Further, under Standard 1.2.7 if a food product claims to be 'gluten-free', then 'the food must not contain detectable gluten'.
The change in definition of 'gluten free' would bring the Food Standards Code in line with British and European standards.
In 1999 the Commerce Commission settled a case with a company over a "Gluten Free Bread Mix" label when the mix contained gluten. This settlement was consistent with a High Court case where the Judge made clear that compliance with the (then) Food Regulations did not mean compliance with the Fair Trading Act.
So, what does this mean for you and your business?
If the definition of 'gluten free' is to change, more food companies may be able to claim that their product is 'gluten free' where there are actually small traces of gluten in their products.
On the flip side, it is possible that some food companies that manufacture actual 'gluten-free' foods under the current Standards may lose their higher price premium.
We will be keeping an eye on this proposal for you - and will keep you posted.
In the meantime, if you have any questions around your rights and responsibilities with the Food Standards Code, give us a call - we will be happy to help.