We know how hard it is to navigate a celiac diet in a gluten filled world. That’s why it is important to know what to look for on a label, whether this is your first time looking for gluten-free food or you just want to touch upon the basics, we’re here to help you find your delicious gluten-free food the safe way! Let’s break down the different stamps you can look for and we’ll also talk about what to look for in a label for food that isn’t stamped. 

What are gluten-free stamps?

The first thing to know is that there are a couple of gluten-free stamps you can look for on food and labels. Any food that has been stamped gluten-free should at least meet the FDA’s 20ppm gluten-free requirement. Some stamps could be 10 or even 5 ppm but all of them should at least meet the FDA requirement making it safe to eat. 

National Celiac Association (NCA)

The first stamp you can look for is a light blue GF with a green checkmark and certified typed vertically on the logo. This logo is from the National Celiac Association (NCA). It’s safe to eat because anything that carries it has been tested at 5 ppm which is 4 times the rate of the FDA requirement. NCA-certified food can go right onto your grocery list!

Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)

The next stamp you want to look for is from the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. This one is going to be a bit tricky simply because they are changing their stamp. In the process of phasing one stamp out for the next, there will be products with the old stamp on it and some with the new one. Either way, both are safe for your gluten-free needs. 

Whether it be a white circle around a white GF or a green box with the words Gluten Free in it, both are tested at 10 ppm. Again, this stamp more than meets the FDA requirement to be labeled gluten-free. 

The Gluten Free Certification Program (GFCP)

This is a label and program that, for manufacturers, began in Canada and is also now in the US for many US-based products, thanks to Beyond Celiac.  

This is a full system and certification for facilities. It is not just based on ppm product testing, but ingredient sourcing, ensuring production processes and practices all produce safe products for those who have celiac and gluten sensitivities.

What is PPM?

Gluten-free food has a certain testing method that allows it to be labeled “gluten-free” and safe to eat. PPM stands for parts per million. Basically, it is how thoroughly the food has been tested. 20 ppm is the FDA requirement for gluten-free food. 

Anything tested over more than 20 ppm is not safe, particularly if you have celiac, and anything tested at less than 20 ppm has a higher chance of not giving you a reaction. 

Anyone trying to eat a gluten-free diet should use this rule: the lower the ppm, the safer the food is. This can make it hard to shop for food in any old grocery store but, luckily for you all of our Eating Gluten Free products are tested to 5 ppm.

Find Gluten Free Flour blends, mixes, and more in our online shop > (Link to EGF Shop)  

What if There is no Official Stamp?

If there is no stamp on the product, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. Some products are gluten-free simply by not having any gluten ingredients (Link to Easy Go to GF Foods). 

Also, we encourage you to check the labels closely because not all stamps/logos are created equally. We always encourage you to do your research to make sure the products you purchase are safe for your specific needs. Particularly, because many of us react differently, and have different levels of reactions to cross-contamination. 

One of the hardest parts of shopping is looking for those red flag ingredients in a label

Never fear, we’re here to ease that burden. The most important things to notice in an ingredient label are:

  • Barley 
  • Wheat 
  • Rye 
  • Malt Flavoring
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Oats* 

*Some oats are safe to eat but if it is unspecified on the label, it is best to substitute it for oats that are guaranteed safe. 

Oats are not guaranteed to be gluten-free but some are (Link to Past Blog Post). It is all about how they have been processed and tested. Since some oats are grown and packaged in the same facilities as barley, wheat, and other gluten crops, they are highly likely to be cross-contaminated. When it comes to oats, the best rule to follow is to avoid them unless it is certified gluten-free. If the product contains any of the other ingredients on the list, it is not gluten-free. Oats can be the only exception.

When a product does not contain any of the above mentioned ingredients, there’s one last thing to look for. Statements like “Made in a Facility That Processes Wheat” on a label are also a red flag. This statement is a helpful sign of cross-contamination. It is best to avoid labels with this statement because cross-contamination can be just as dangerous as food with gluten products in the label. Some labels clarify if they are made on the same line or in the same facility. 

You can call and ask if they were made on shared equipment with allergens, and if the label mentions it, we typically pass on that and find an alternative or try to make something similar ourselves.  Find hundreds of recipes on our website here > (Link to Recipes) 

What can I eat?

Overall, there are a lot of foods to avoid but don’t let that discourage you. Eating Gluten-Free has a lot of options for delicious food and all of it is tested at 5 ppm, 4 times the FDA-approved rate. 

We have tons of options on our website for gluten-free foods that you’ll never have to worry about. You can find a variety of products here. Don’t forget you get FREE shipping if your order is more than $45 (long term food storage is not included.)

Our delicious recipes are guaranteed safe for anyone who needs to adhere to a celiac diet because we know how hard it is to find good food that is safe to eat. 

If you are looking for other resources after being diagnosed you can learn more about where to find ingredients and products that are gluten free, how to understand cross contamination, and more in our resources section on our website. 

It’s important you know you are not alone. We started our company to help those in our community who needed support after being diagnosed over 16 years ago. We are still here and if you are looking for support or you need resources that aren’t on our website please let us know.