APRIL 2017

In this issue

Proficiency Testing

Survey: "May Contain" Statements

Purity Protocol for Oats

Come See Us!

Certification Updates

GFCO Contact Information

Proficiency Testing
Requirement 72 in the GFCO Certification Standard requires facilities that perform in-house gluten testing to participate in a Proficiency Testing scheme for gluten at least every 4 years. Proficiency Testing, or PT, is a new requirement that allows GFCO and manufacturers to verify that gluten tests are being performed and reported correctly. Proficiency Testing can also serve as a comparison of kit performance across multiple testing sites.
In Proficiency Testing, a manufacturer signs up to receive a set of unknown samples, which they will test for gluten using their normal test method. Portions of these same samples will also be sent to other facilities that sign up for this same PT “round”. All PT participants receive detailed instructions about how to treat the samples and report their results. A deadline is set for result submissions, and as each participant submits their results they will be given a unique, de-identified participant number. Once all of the results have been analyzed and compiled, every participant will receive a report that reveals the gluten content of each of the test samples and the results by participant number. If enough data is available, the results can also be broken down by test method.
There are two organizations that offer gluten PT rounds commercially — FAPAS ( in the United Kingdom, and Bipea ( in Spain. Additionally, Romer Labs offers free check samples for the users of their AgraStrip test kits, and has a sign-up deadline of September 1st, 2017 to participate in this year’s program (contact Ryan Adorno at for more information). Both FAPAS and Bipea are accredited to ISO 17043 as Proficiency Testing providers, while Romer and GIG are not. All of these programs are suitable for meeting the GFCO Standard requirement.
In July of this year, GFCO will offer a PT round to those companies that hold a GFCO certification contract, as well as to their approved manufacturing facilities. Keep an eye out for the July issue of Food Safety First for more details. In the interim, companies can meet requirements 72 and 73 of the GFCO Standard by having a written policy that states that they will participate in PT for gluten at least every 4 years, and complete a Corrective Action investigation for any incorrect PT results.  

REMINDER: Testing Submissions for the first quarter of 2017 were
due on April 10th.  Please make sure you have submitted
your data to .

Survey: “May Contain” and “Shared Equipment” Statements on Gluten-Free Products 
GFCO often receives questions from consumers about statements on certified gluten-free products that read “May Contain Wheat”, “Processed in a Facility that Processes Wheat”, or “Processed on Shared Equipment with Ingredients that Contain Wheat”. GFCO certifies many products from manufacturers that make both gluten containing and gluten-free product in the same facility, but we understand that these types of advisory statements can be confusing for consumers, and can make them doubt the gluten-free status of a product.

In order to better understand why these advisory statements are used, and to help explain their use to consumers, GFCO would like to ask facilities that produce both gluten-containing and gluten-free products to participate in a survey. Your responses will be strictly confidential. The overall survey results will be presented in a future issue of Food Safety First.

If your facility manufactures both gluten-containing and gluten-free products, please participate in our survey by following this link:   May Contain Survey
The “Purity Protocol” for Gluten-Free Oats
The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), the leader in the certification of  gluten-free products and food services, has published an industry agreed-upon definition and requirements for operating under a “Purity Protocol”—a claim made by processors for the provision of gluten-free oats. “Definition of the ‘Purity Protocol’ for Producing Gluten-Free Oats”, written by GIG and published in the AACC International peer-reviewed journal Cereal Chemistry, provides transparency to the industry and gluten-free consumers, and allows for auditing of the Purity Protocol claim.

While studies have found that oats are safe for the vast majority of those with celiac disease, they can be contaminated by wheat, rye or barley during farming, processing and storage. Purity Protocol is a farm-to-plate method of ensuring that oats are gluten-free and have met requirements for seed stock purity as well as criteria for harvesting, transport, storage, processing and manufacturing.

“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,” said Cynthia Kupper, CEO of GIG. “Up until this collaborative effort, there was no agreed-upon definition for the Purity Protocol. Without a universal definition, buyers and consumers can’t be sure that every oat supplier using the term is operating according to industry-accepted and uniform best practices. Now we have a minimum definition and requirements, and that builds consumer confidence.”

To generate an agreed-upon definition, GIG worked with the four primary oat processors in the U.S. and Canada that currently use the Purity Protocol claim: Montana Gluten Free Processors, Cream Hill Estates, Gluten Free Harvest/Canyon Oats, and Avena Foods Limited. GIG led the effort to validate how it defines the Purity Protocol in its Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) program, the leading certification program for quality, integrity and purity of gluten-free products.
Come See Us!
Stop by and see GFCO in our booth at the National Restaurant Association Show, May 20-23, 2017 in Chicago. GFCO has attended the NRA Show for several years, but this is our first year with a booth and we are looking forward to seeing all of our current clients, as well as all of the new gluten-free businesses that are ready to serve the restaurant industry.

GFCO will also have a booth at Natural Products Expo East, September 14-16 in Baltimore. And keep an eye out for GFCO staff at the Summer Fancy Food Show, June 25-27 in New York - we’ll be walking the show floor, so feel free to stop us for questions or just to say hello.

Certification Updates

GFCO is continuing to reorganize our audit groupings in order to reduce travel costs for our companies. This may mean that your audit will occur earlier or later than usual, but you will not be scheduled for more than one audit within any calendar year (January-December).

Keep in mind that any confirmed positive gluten test results (> 10 ppm) in finished product (but not ingredients) must be reported to GFCO, whether or not the products are released for sale. Please contact Laura Allred at to report positive results in finished product.

GFCO would like to make our clients aware of our confidentiality policies surrounding the Product and Ingredient lists that are submitted for review and approval. Client confidentiality is very important to GFCO, and is the reason for these restrictions on who can view Product and Ingredient lists

  • GFCO can never provide a copy of a Product and Ingredient list to anyone other than the specific person who submitted it.
  • GFCO cannot pull Product and Ingredient lists from our files to share with anyone.
  • If a client wishes to update their Product and Ingredient list they need to provide their updated list to GFCO for to be reviewed and returned.
  • Companies operating under private label and licensing agreements can never receive a copy of a Product and Ingredient list.
  • GFCO auditors will only bring the list of Products and Ingredients submitted by the facility they are auditing to any audit.

Customer Service
For general certification
questions and changes to your certification, including changes to Products, Ingredients and manufacturing facilties.
For questions about payments for certification or audits.
Quality Control
For questions about audit
report findings and contract  testing requirements.
Jasmine Hagan

Regulatory & Standards
For questions about  the GFCO Standard requirements, testing methods, and to report positive gluten test results > 10 ppm in finished product.
Laura Allred
Vice President
Channon Quinn
Gluten Intolerance Group
31214 124th Ave SE Auburn, WA 98092
P: (253) 833-6655
F: (253) 833-6675 
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America® is a 501c3 nonprofit  Washington State corporation. 
Tax ID 91-1458226.