Issued: December 2022 by the Registered Dietitian Working Group, a sub-committee of CCA’s Professional Advisory Council.
Celiac Canada (CCA) revised its Labelling Guidelines resource in October 2021 and again in June 2022. During this time, there has been some confusion about the risk of corn products; specifically corn flour, corn meal and corn starch, and when it is recommended that an individual with celiac disease purchase a corn-based product with a gluten-free (GF) claim.
In 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) undertook a surveillance (or study) of corn flour. In the study, “Gluten contamination of naturally gluten-free flours and starches used by Canadians with celiac disease”, 16% of corn flour samples contained over 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, ranging anywhere from 8 ppm to 731 ppm. Manufacturing processes have remained relatively unchanged since this study was completed.
Some companies (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill, Nature’s Path) process GF corn flour/meal in a separate GF facility due to the potential for cross-contamination/contact with other flours and gluten-containing grains. Whenever flour is processed in the same facility as other flours, there is a potential for gluten cross-contamination/contact.
During a November 22, 2022, meeting with Health Canada, we requested that corn flour/meal and corn-based products undergo another review, like the study in 2012. Until a repeat surveillance can be scheduled, Health Canada has agreed to review past ingredient surveys to assess if snack related items, like corn chips and corn puffs, have been studied to determine safety. Health Canada also clarified that the 2012 “corn” study remains relevant.
Independently, we will be reaching out to corn producers to learn more about their current farm-to-table manufacturing processes and risk of gluten cross-contamination/contact.
Corn starch is a highly processed food product/ingredient and as such is low-risk of gluten cross-contamination/contact. For this reason, individuals with celiac disease do not have to purchase or consume corn starch with a GF claim in North America. Additionally, corn starch is generally used in smaller amounts when compared to corn flour-based products (like tortillas, nachos), which further reduces gluten cross-contamination/contact risk.
Do not consume any product that contains barley, rye, regular oats and/or wheat (BROW).
Do not consume any product that has a “may contain” statement for any BROW grain, which is unless there is a GF claim. Products with a GF claim and a “may contain BROW” statement are safe for individuals with celiac disease because the product must be under 20 ppm gluten.
Due to high risk of gluten cross-contamination/contact:
Due to low risk of gluten cross-contamination/contact:
Consumers play a key role in keeping food safe. If a food product makes you feel unwell, it is important to report it to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) so that it can be investigated and potentially removed from store shelves. With every food complaint, the CFIA undertakes a review as part of their food safety process and follows up with the consumer reporting the issue.
If you are reporting a gluten-related food product concern to the CFIA, please also contact the CCA at email@example.com with information about your complaint including the name of the product, your symptoms, concerns, as well as the date reported to the CFIA. The CCA will use this information to further advocate to Health Canada on behalf of the celiac community.
Please contact the CCA with any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-363-7296 ext. 224
Statement Issued: December 2022 by the Registered Dietitian Working Group, a sub-committee of CCA’s Professional Advisory Council.
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