Quarter 1 - 2020

In this issue
  • New Proficiency Testing Schedule for 2020
  • Public Product List
  • Corrective Actions from Proficiency Testing
  • Gluten Free Beer Conference
  • Standard Update
GFCO, the leader in gluten-free certification, is taking on the world and introducing a NEW GLOBAL CERTIFICATION MARK in 2020. More information to follow in February, but EARLY ADOPTERS ARE NEEDED NOW. GFCO is offering an exclusive opportunity to companies who are able to print on demand or make fast product package changes:

The first 80 brands with products that feature our new Global Certification Mark will receive free shelf space in our EXPO WEST 2020 Booth and a Product of the Week feature on GIG’s social media pages (combined, a $1,500 value)!  Get your product in front of over 80,000 attendees at our Main Floor booth March 5 – 7. Fill out this form by 2/1/20 for all of the details. Restrictions may apply. 

REMINDER: Testing Submissions for the fourth quarter of 2019 were due on January 10th. Please make sure you have submitted your data to testing@gluten.org .
GFCO Public Product List

For the past few newsletters, we’ve been letting you know that GFCO will soon have a searchable database of certified products on our website. The time is getting even closer for the launch, and we are beginning to reach out to current clients to get confirmation that they are willing to have their products appear on the public list.
The searchable list will be a great resource for consumers and manufacturers alike, with the ability to search products by key word in the categories of “retail” or “industrial”. As a manufacturer, this will help you find new or alternate sources for gluten-free raw materials. And for consumers, this will be the quickest way for them to find your certified gluten-free products. GFCO will also refer consumers to this list as the primary way to confirm product certification.
Please make sure to respond to the email from GFCO regarding your participation in the public list . If you didn’t have a current product certificate as of 12/20/19, you will not receive an email, but make sure to ask your certification body for a copy of their current Product & Ingredient template, which allows you to opt in or out of the public list for each individual Product.



New Proficiency Testing Schedule for 2020
In order to improve access to Proficiency Testing, GFCO is updating the schedule for PT sign-up and result submission in 2020.
In previous years, sign-ups for PT were permitted between September 1 and October 31, samples were shipped in November, results were due by December 31, and a final report was issued in January of the following year.
Under our new schedule, sign-ups for the 2020 PT round will begin April 1. Participants will be allowed to sign up any time between April 1 and November 30, and samples will be shipped as sign-ups are received. Participants will be able to submit their results any time between April 1 and December 31, and participants will receive a preliminary report that lists only their results and whether they agree or disagree with the assigned sample values. Preliminary reports will be issued via email within two weeks of result submission. A final report for the round will be issued in January of 2021.
Our goal for 2021 and beyond will be to offer PT sign-ups and sample shipment from January 1 to November 30 each year, with preliminary reports issued within two weeks of result submission. The final result submission date each year will be December 31, with a final report for the round issued in January of the following year.
The dates for PT will be updated to reflect the new 2020 schedule in the GFCO Scheme Manual, which you can view and download at www.gfco.org/process .

Corrective Actions from Proficiency Testing 

During the month of January, everyone who signed up for the 2019 GFCO Proficiency Testing round will begin receiving the final report for the round. Using the plant number that was assigned when the test results were submitted, each plant will consult the tables in the final report to see if their results agreed (A) or Disagreed (D) with the assigned value for each sample. So what do you do if one or more of your results disagreed with the assigned value(s)?
The GFCO Standard requires that a corrective action investigation be performed whenever a plant receives an unexpected test result—that would include an unexpected positive gluten result in finished products, or an incorrect result in any proficiency testing. For proficiency testing, the corrective action cannot just be repeating the test and getting the right answers. All corrective actions must work to discover and address the underlying issue(s) that may have resulted in the unexpected result.
One thing to keep in mind is that proficiency testing is designed to be educational. GFCO does not withdraw certification based on incorrect proficiency testing results, but we do expect that each plant will use the opportunity of an incorrect result to re-evaluate their testing program. Please read through the entire PT report to see any trends that were noticed, or any characteristics of the test samples, that may have affected the plant’s results.
The following are some common issues that can cause incorrect PT results, and potential ways to correct them—but remember, each plant must look at the specifics of their own situation to determine the right corrective action.
Switched Samples or Incorrectly Entered Results : This is a common cause of incorrect PT results—either switching the samples/results, or simply entering them incorrectly. But this is not something to be overlooked. If laboratory staff know that they are working with PT samples and results, they are likely being far more careful then they would ever be with routine samples, so these kinds of errors must be addressed. Some possible corrective actions to take for this type of error are: retraining testing staff on best practices for maintaining sample identity during testing (things like labeling the extraction tubes and test strips), retraining testing staff on best practices for transferring data (making sure sample IDs are clear and complete on all paperwork, double-checking entries before approving reports or saving online submissions), or possibly introducing a second reviewer before any results are finalized. Remember, any corrective action that is put in place must be used for all testing done by the plant, not just for PT.
Incorrect Result Interpretation : With qualitative rapid tests, such as lateral flow test strips, some kits may say that the test line must achieve a certain color intensity before a sample is called positive, while others indicate that any visible line should be interpreted as a positive. It’s very important that testing staff are aware of the criteria for a positive result, and that all testing staff are interpreting results the same way. If the plant repeats the testing on PT samples and the staff say things like “oh, that’s very faint, but now we see it”, or if they are unaware that a sample with a high gluten content might result in the absence of a test line in some kits, then some potential corrective actions are: retraining testing staff on the criteria for calling positive results, improving the lighting in the testing area so that staff can clearly see the results, or purchasing a strip-reader for those kits where a reader is available. Again, remember that the corrective action that is decided on must be used for all testing going forward.
Choice of Test Kit : Most of the gluten test kits on the market are equivalent when you are testing for wheat contamination in common products like baked goods. But what if the sample type is uncommon, or the contamination is coming from barley or rye? Proficiency testing may point out that the kit you are using is not optimal for these kinds of samples, and if your certified products are similar to the PT sample make-up, or if you know that your products might be prone to contamination from rye or barley, then the overall results of a PT round may show you which kit would be the best choice for your finished products.
These are just three of the most common reasons for incorrect PT results, but there may be others based on the operations in any individual plant. The ultimate goal for proficiency testing is to detect any possible deficiencies in the plant’s testing program, and take appropriate actions to improve performance and increase confidence in the plant’s results.

Gluten Free Beer Conference
& Brewers’ Association  

In October of 2019, Holidaily Brewing, a manufacturer of GFCO-certified beer, hosted the first annual Gluten-Free Beer Conference (GFBC). Of the 14 dedicated gluten-free breweries in operation in the US, eight were in attendance, including GFCO manufacturer Ground Breaker Brewing (see photo). The conference featured a gluten-free homebrew competition, with the winning beer set to be brewed by Holidaily and sold in their tap room in March 2020.
The goals of the conference were to promote safe gluten-free products, improve the consumer experience of gluten-free beers, and encourage cooperation in leading the gluten-free beer industry. Towards that end, Karen Hertz of Holidaily announced the formation of the Gluten Free Brewers’ Association.
Holidaily plans to continue the conference as an annual event. For more information on the conference or Brewer’s Association, contact Kaitlyn Gipple at kgipple@holidailybrewing.com, or join the conversation at hashtag #getbeercurious to learn more about gluten-free beer.

Come See Us!
Natural Products Expo West

Booth #448 - March 3-7
Anaheim, California

Watch for information about our Educational Seminar on Wednesday, March 4 from 11:30-12:30. Information will be available on the Expo West online schedule. 
A direct and compelling headline

Certification Updates
  • There is an updated version of the GFCO Scheme Manual, which was edited to change the version from 2019 to 2020, and to include the changes to the Proficiency Testing schedule. Notes on the revisions can be found at the end of the document, which can be viewed and downloaded at www.gfco.org/process.

  • GFCO is updating the GFCO Standard v.2016, and will post the proposed edits on January 31, 2020 at www.gfco.org/standard-update for comment. All certification clients may read the proposed changes and submit comments and suggestions to laura.allred@gluten.org between January 31 and March 30. GFCO will review all comments and suggestions, but is not obligated to include them in the final document. The final revised GFCO Standard v.2.0 will be issued on May 1st, and audits will be performed to the new Standard beginning on August 1, 2020.


Regulatory Manager
Laura Allred

GFCO Certification Body
Paul Vachris
Control Union Certification Body
Daniel Montes

SCS Certification Body
Ned Halaby



Testing Submissions testing@gluten.org

Logo Submissions

Positive Results
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