Quarter 3 - 2020

In this issue
  • FDA Ingredient Ruling
  • GFCO Global Certification Mark - Marketing Effort
  • 2020 Proficiency Testing Round
  • GFCO Standard Update
  • GFCO Scheme Manual Update
  • Plant Registration
  • Public Product List
  • Coronavirus Update
  • GFCO Contact Information
FDA Ruling on Ingredient Substitutions
On May 22, 2020, in response to supply chain disruptions brought on by the coronavirus, the FDA issued a guidance document permitting temporary flexibility in food labeling. This guidance allows “minor formulation changes in certain circumstances without making conforming label changes, such as making a change to product ingredients, without updating the ingredient list on the packaged food when such a minor change is made”.

GFCO understands the impact that the coronavirus has had on supply chains, and appreciates the underlying goal of this guidance for manufacturers. However, we want to make it clear that manufacturers are still expected to submit all ingredient changes in GFCO-certified products to their certification body for review and approval.

Some companies have announced that they will post any ingredient substitutions not reflected on ingredient lists on their company website. We support this action, and would ask that any ingredient substitutions in GFCO certified products be made transparent to consumers.

GFCO Global Certification Mark -
Marketing Effort

Since the launch of our rebranding initiative in March, nearly 10% of GFCO customers have begun changing packaging to adopt the GFCO Global Certification Mark.

Given that the past few months have been a tumultuous time in our world, we couldn’t be more appreciative for the efforts already made. GFCO is preparing a robust consumer marketing and education campaign for the roll out of the new mark beginning in 3rd quarter of this year, and we are hoping you will join us in the effort. Our work begins now and you can be involved. Click here to see our plans for the next few months and explore all of the ways your company can participate.

Remember, all representations of the GFCO Logo must be changed to this new global mark by March 30, 2022.


2020 GFCO Proficiency Testing Round
Sign-ups for the 2020 GFCO Proficiency Testing round began April 1st and are open right now at www.gluten.org/proficiency-registration . This year we have changed the schedule for proficiency testing in order to provide our companies with more opportunity to participate.
  • Sign-ups for proficiency testing will be available this year between April 1st and November 30th.
  • Samples will be shipped as payment is received. Samples will be shipped within 5 business days after your payment is processed.
  • Results may be submitted as soon as you have completed testing—see the instructions that come with your samples for the result submission website.
  • Preliminary reports will be issued within 2 weeks of result submission.
  • The final date for all result submission will be December 31, 2020. No results for the 2020 round will be accepted after that date.
  • A final report will be issued in January 2021.


REMINDER: Testing Submissions for the second quarter of 2020 are due on July 10th. Please make sure to submit your data to testing@gluten.org .
Automated reminders will now be sent 45 days after the testing due date, to any client who has not submitted testing data or a notice that they did not produce certified products during the previous quarter. Testing and the submission of testing data are a requirement for certification, and the failure to submit testing data, or a notice that no certified products were produced, may result in the reduction, probation or withdrawal of certification. 

GFCO Standard Update

An announcement was sent June 1, 2020 to make all GFCO stakeholders aware of the 2020 update to the GFCO Certification Standard. The updated Standard, as well as a document summarizing all of the changes, may be viewed and downloaded at www.gfco.org/standard-update .

The updated Standard will be effective December 1, 2020, and all auditors will begin auditing to the new Standard on that date.

A few of the specific things in the update that may require additional documentation in your plant are:

  • Requirements 2 and 12 – we want to make sure you as the company, and your plants, have a list of the countries where your products are sold, and knowledge of the gluten thresholds in those countries.
  • Requirement 13 – the Plant must have a copy of the GFCO Standard
  • Requirement 39 – the Plant must keep records of the review and mitigation of any risks to the Gluten Program and its operations (previously the Standard said they had to review them, now there must be written records).
  • Please review the updated Standard to determine if there are any other changes needed in your plant’s Gluten Program.

GFCO Scheme Manual Update

Along with the update to the GFCO Certification Standard, the GFCO scheme has released an updated version of the GFCO Certification Scheme Manual. The GFCO Scheme Manual contains all of the requirements for certification that apply regardless of the certification body that you use. The updated Scheme Manual may be viewed and downloaded at www.gfco.org/certification .

The updated version of the Scheme Manual, other than the Certification Standard at the end, will be effective August 1, 2020. The Standard update is included in this revision, but the 2020 revision of the Standard will not be in effect until December 1, 2020.

The new Scheme Manual contains an update to GFCO’s definition of gluten-free, clarifying that GFCO’s threshold is 10 ppm or the threshold of the country of sale, whichever is lower, and also encoding the grain count threshold for whole grain products that was announced in 2019. It also contains a section clarifying the difference between certification contracts and licensing agreements.

Plant Registration

Thank you to all of our GFCO manufacturers that have gone online and registered their plants under GIG’s new plant registration requirement. New applicants have been registering their plants since 2018, but this is the first year that existing facilities have been asked to ‘renew’ their registration. Renewal requests are being rolled out over the next twelve months to each manufacturing location. This process began in May, so if you have not received one yet, it should be coming within the next 10 months. 

Public Product List

Thank you to all GFCO certification clients who continue to include their products on our public product list! This list is the primary way for consumers to confirm the certification status of products, and we are getting feedback already from many gluten-free consumers who are using the list when they shop.

The list is available online at https://gfco.org/product-directory/ , and it currently displays more than 950 of GFCO’s product brands. If you don’t see your products on the list, and would like to, please contact your certification body and let them know.

Please visit the list when you have a chance, and make sure that your products are listed in a way that makes it easy for consumer to find them. You can change the way that your products are shown on the list by updating your Product & Ingredient list with your certification body.
As many states continue to recommend social distancing and limited trips for shopping, the gluten-free community wants to know how they can get your products to their doorsteps. Be included on our listing which is being shared on our website, social media, and through our local support groups. Already included but need to provide an update?

Send us the details at marketing@gluten.org .
Certification Updates

As a service provider to the food and agriculture industries, GFCO is continuing to operate and perform its essential public safety audits. GFCO will be following the CDC’s guidelines for restricted travel related to Covid-19, and we are supporting the decisions of the auditors, certification bodies and plants to postpone audits if there are concerns about the coronavirus. GIG has policies in place for extreme circumstances such as these, and we have made our certification bodies aware of those options. Please contact your certification body if you have concerns about an upcoming scheduled audit.
For new certification applicants, we ask for your patience as this situation unfolds, particularly if your facility is located in an area where the CDC has determined that there is widespread ongoing coronavirus transmission.
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Regulatory Manager
Laura Allred

GFCO Certification Body
Paul Vachris
Control Union Certification Body
Daniel Montes

SCS Certification Body
David Morales-Vela


Testing Submissions testing@gluten.org

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