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Push for universal gluten-free symbol in Europe

By Oliver Nieburg , 07-Feb-2012

Coeliac UK hopes its Crossed Grain symbol will become the EU standard in two to three years
Coeliac UK hopes its Crossed Grain symbol will become the EU standard in two to three years

The Association of European Coeliac Societies has adopted Coeliac UK’s gluten-free symbol as it looks to standardise gluten-free labelling across Europe.

The Coeliac UK logo will be promoted as the industry standard for gluten-free products in Europe.

Currently, multiple logos adorn gluten-free goods within the EU, which Coeliac UK says can be confusing for consumers.

Crossed Grain symbol

Coeliac UK CEO Sarah Sleet told BakeryAndSnacks.com that her organisation’s Crossed Grain symbol made it easier for coeliac consumers to choose safe products and gave manufacturers commercial advantages in a growing and competitive gluten-free market.

“The coeliac community would like to see a single standard,” she said.

“Virtually all consumers across Europe will recognise our symbol.”

In the UK, around 90 companies have adopted Coeliac UK’s Crossed Grain symbol, including bread manufacturer Warburtons and supermarket chain Asda.

The symbol also has a presence in continental Europe, particularly in Italy, Austria and Germany.

Many supermarkets chose to adopt their own logo, but Sleet said that her organisation had been approached by supermarket chains.

“Following the pan-European agreement we expect to see a rapid rise in the amount of manufacturers using the symbol,” said Sleet.

She hoped to see the symbol become the European standard in the next two to three years.

Pack placement

Coeliac UK charges an annual licence fee to use its symbol, which varies depending upon the turnover of the gluten-free products listed in the licence.

Sleet was asked whether it was a requirement of the license to place the symbol on the front of the packaging.

While she said it was not a prerequisite, she said that her organisation would like to see it in a place of prominence.

She added that the logo was a value-added symbol that could help manufacturers promote their products. Therefore it could be within a manufacturer’s interest to make the symbol highly visible on packaging, she said.

Outside Europe

Coeliac UK has also recently trademarked its symbol in the US.

A multitude of gluten-free logos exist in the US, but Sleet said Coeliac UK was in discussion with organisations such as the Gluten-Free Interest Group over potential synergies.

However, she said that a universal system worldwide would be a challenge as the US threshold for what constitutes a gluten-free product was considerably lower than the EU and world standard.

According to new European regulations on gluten-free products that were introduced on 1 January 2012, a product may bear the term ‘gluten-free’ if the gluten content does not exceed 20 mg/kg. (Commission Regulation (EC) No 41/2009)

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