My friend Caro is a coeliac. Recently while out shopping at Pak'nSave she noticed something really bloody annoying (and actually illegal) going on in store and posted it to Facebook. It's something I've witnessed myself in many other places too, and frankly it's just not good enough!
What am I on about? Dodgy gluten free food labelling.
According to the New Zealand and Australian Food Standards code, food labelled 'Gluten free' that's manufactured in New Zealand or Australia must contain no more than 3ppm of gluten. That's an incredibly tiny amount.
Meanwhile at Pak'nSave this is going on ...
This is NOT gluten free. It is NOT 3ppm of gluten or less. This is food prepared in a commercial kitchen alongside regular gluteny products. So the risk of contamination is very high. How high? Who knows, because they haven't measured it.
This type of product should NEVER be labelled gluten free. It's maybe 'low gluten' at best, but definitely not gluten free. And adding the shifty 'may contain traces of gluten' label, does not make it okay - in fact, this also breaches food labelling regulations.
Why is this important? Because someone could get very very sick.
For many of us, gluten free is not a fad, it's not something we're doing for fun. We're eating gluten free because it helps keep us healthy.
This type of crappy labelling of "gluten free" just encourages people to think of it as a fad diet and endangers a risky population.
I'm going to end with the wise words of Caro who took the photo above. "This right here? This is illegal in New Zealand, and it's illegal for a reason. Some people with coeliac or a gluten allergy go into anaphylactic shock if they consume even minute amount accidentally. All of us have reactions lasting weeks, and often end up with permanent damage or lethal related diseases, including lymphoma and other cancers.
'Gluten Free' is a legal food labeling term denoting a very specific level of testing has been done, and that there is certifiably less than 3ppm of gluten present. These obviously were not tested, hence the green sticker, which is NOT a legal or acceptable form of caveat to what they're advertising. This kind of misuse of 'Gluten Free' is taking what should be a health label and twisting it to profit off a baseless diet fad. It is not safe, and it's not okay. My complaint is pending."
Sort out your labelling please Pak'nSave!
Update: The Ministry for Primary Industries who have since talked to the bakery manager who is implementing changes to their labelling.