What does “gluten free” mean in Canada

There are clear guidelines set out in regulation and in implementation guidelines from Health Canada defining what the phrase “gluten free” means in Canada. It applies to all food products sold in Canada, no matter where they are manufactured.

  1. No ingredients that contain any gluten proteins from barley, oats, rye, triticale, or wheat, including kamut and spelt, have been deliberately added to the product.
  2. No ingredients that contain modified or hydrolyzed proteins from those same grains have been deliberately added to the product.
  3. Gluten levels in the product from accidental gluten contamination are less than 20 parts per million (ppm).
  4. Good manufacturing practices have been used to minimize the risk of accidental contamination from gluten grains.
  5. Any ingredients made from gluten grain have been processed to remove the gluten protein using methods that have been demonstrated to be effective. Wheat glucose syrup and wheat maltodextrin are ingredients that fit in this category.
  6. Recognized testing methodologies have been used to measure gluten levels.
  7. The food has been specially processed or formulated to meet the needs of someone who needs to follow a gluten free diet in order to protect their health.

As a result of this last condition, you will generally not find a “gluten free” claim on many products that are still safe for you to eat. Look for “gluten free” claims on baked goods, cereals and the flour you buy to bake with. Don’t be alarmed when you do not see a “gluten free” claim on mayonnaise or ketchup or applesauce. Check the label to determine if any gluten ingredients have been added.