The world’s largest snack firm Frito-Lay has announced plans to use its own gluten-free symbol on labels in North America after validating products as gluten-free through two celiac organisations.
A multitude of gluten-free symbols exist in the US, but Frito-Lay and has opted to use its own.
Testing to meet legal limits
The snacks arm of Pepsico has partnered with the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) and the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) to test ingredients and finished products to ensure they contain below the legal limit to be considered “gluten free”.
In the US, products must contain below 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to make a “gluten-free” claim under the Food And Drug Administration’s (FDA) Proposed Rule for Gluten Free Labelling (2007).
The limit in Europe is 20mg/kg under new European regulations on gluten-free products that were introduced on 1 January 2012. However, Frito-Lay’s initiative is limited to North America.
Celiacs in America
The company said in its release that around three million Americans have celiac disease and as many as 21 million may have sensitivity to gluten.
Kari Hecker Ryan, group manager of nutrition science and regulatory affairs, Frito-Lay North America said: "We understand that living with gluten sensitivities can present some challenges, and when you or a loved one is diagnosed it can be overwhelming and confusing.
“We are doing our due diligence to ensure that our validated products comply with the proposed standards by testing ingredients and finished products, so the shopper can trust our gluten free claim.”
No universal symbol
Sarah Sleet, CEO of celiac organisation Coeliac UK, previously told this site that a universal gluten-free symbol was needed to ensure consumers made safe choices.
She said that a Europe-wide symbol was possible, but standardising a symbol worldwide would be more challenging as the legal limit for a gluten-free product was lower in the US.
Going its own way
Nevertheless, Frito-Lay’s partner, CDF, believes the snacks firm is making things easier for consumers despite producing its own symbol.
Marilyn Geller, chief operating officer of CDF, said: “Frito-Lay will make label reading especially easy for gluten sensitive consumers, as it starts to include its own Gluten Free symbol or claim on qualified snack products.”
The company said it would use a GF icon and/or a statement on the back of the pack to communicate that the product is gluten-free.
Some Frito-Lay products in its Lay’s, Fritos and Doritos range are already gluten-free and the company is phasing others in gradually.