Purity protocol standardization may drive gluten-free snacks price down: says association

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Oat is the riskiest ingredient used in gluten-free product, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group's CEO notedt. Pic: GIG
Oat is the riskiest ingredient used in gluten-free product, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group's CEO notedt. Pic: GIG

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The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) has teamed up with several major North American oat processors to standardize the gluten-free screening process, commonly known as the purity protocol. 

The GIG is an organization that certifies gluten-free products and foodservices. Its latest definition and requirements for the purity protocol was published by AACC International, formerly the American Association of Cereal Chemists.

Oat companies required to follow new rule

The purity protocol defines the way of growing, harvesting and processing oats to keep them safe from gluten contamination, GIG’s CEO, Cynthia Kupper, said.

However, the method has been used by many companies for several years as a way of saying “we raise our oats differently,” ​she explained, and it lacks a uniform definition.

“Given the continuing growth of the market for gluten-free products, it is essential that terms like ‘purity protocol’ be defined for both food manufacturers and consumers.”

Kupper said companies will now have to provide documentation that prove the processes they follow are based on the newly standardardized definition in order to use the claim 'purity protocol oats'.

Possible price decrease

The products most impacted by cross contamination are granola and cookies that contain oats, Kupper told BakeryandSnacks.

“It also can be used by farmers selling safe oats to manufacturers,”​ she said.

“Now, when companies buy purity protocol oats, they’ can assure the end users that they can be confident in this product,”​ she said.

Farmers are paid more to manage oats grown under purity protocol conditions, and the price usually get passed along to the consumer.

“We know that purity protocol oats cost more,”​ Kupper said. “[However], with the increase in the demand [for foods using purity protocol oats], we can drive the price down.”

Extending the standardization

Oat is the riskiest ingredient in a gluten-free product, Kupper said. But, it is possible for all types of grains and seeds to be contaminated.

“The content and design of purity protocol can be easily used across any types of grain production,” ​she said.

So, it is on the GIG’s radar to further standardize the gluten-free screening method for other grains, according to the organization.

“Right now, we know that rice, quinoa and other grains can be cross contaminated, and we may use this standard as an adaption in our program in the future,”​ Kupper said. 

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