Was gluten in your thoughts when you voted in the EU referendum?
No? Me, neither.
And yet it transpires the Brexit campaign will have an impact on Coeliacs.
Allow me to explain…
Coeliac UK recently launched the following statement about EU labelling, concerning NGCI (Non Gluten Containing Ingredients), and the changes take place in 9 days’ time.
(If you’d rather not wade through it, scroll down for my quick summary.)
Changes to European legislation on gluten-free labelling
Changes to European legislation will mean gluten-free labelling changes from 20 July this year as statements such as ‘no gluten-containing ingredients’ (NGCI) will no longer be allowed.
The factual statement ‘no gluten-containing ingredients’ was introduced as an option for food businesses to provide information about the absence of gluten-containing ingredients in foods and primarily used by caterers who felt they could not guarantee gluten-free in a commercial kitchen environment.
One of our main aims is to improve gluten-free provision both in and out of the home. Reading ingredients lists and checking packaging takes time and eating out remains the biggest challenge for many people. We have asked our Members about the usefulness of the NGCI statement and how often it is used. In practice, on packaged foods the statement is not relied upon and consumers tend to use the ingredients lists more often and alternative statements to ‘gluten-free’ often led to confusion. The changes coming into effect make it clearer for consumers with coeliac disease to choose safe foods.
Whilst manufacturers and caterers adapt to the changes you may still see NGCI used on some packaged foods and menus. However, they will be phased out over the coming months. We are communicating with food businesses about the changes and providing guidance and advice about producing safe and clearly labelled gluten-free food.
Regardless of the recent EU referendum result, the UK is still subject to EU regulations around food labelling and will be for at least two years.
My quick summary:
‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients’ is no longer be allowed under EU rules (& we have to abide by EU rules for another 2 years).
The main question is, do you care? Would you rather food was labelled differently or did you think it was helpful to have NGCI?
Personally, I liked the statement. If food is prepared in an environment where gluten is used, NGCI is more honest than stating something is gluten-free.
But I can understand it might be confusing for people who are fed up with all the different labels you can read, including:
May contain traces of gluten
Manufactured in a factory that makes products containing gluten
Made in an environment where gluten is handled
Suitable for Coeliacs (contains wheat)
What the statement doesn’t tell us is what will replace NGCI.
Of course, in a couple of years this won’t matter to the UK as we’ll be able to set our own rules. But 2 years may feel like a long time when you have to scour ingredients lists in the supermarket.
Coeliac UK has promised it will update their webpage with information as soon as they receive it.
Do you think scrapping NGCI is a good idea? Please share your thoughts below: