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GFCP

Newsletter – Spring 2018

THE GLUTEN-FREE STANDARD

A PUBLICATION OF THE ALLERGEN CONTROL GROUP INC.


In This Edition…..


ACG UPDATE:

Message from the President.

– read more

WELCOME NEW BRANDS:

Welcome Kashi and Other Exciting New Brands!

– read more

GFCP PROGRAM UPDATE:

ACG Strengthens Technical Expertise & Business Development Team.

– read more

BEYOND CELIAC UPDATE:

An Extremely Strict Gluten-Free Diet May Reduce Quality of Life.

– read more

TECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Gluten in Drug Products and Associated USFDA Labeling Recommendations.

– read more

Understanding Food Safety Investigation and Recall Process.

– read more

TRAINING UPDATE:

ACG Increases Ease of Access to Mandatory Food Safety Training for Manufacturers.

– read more

CCA UPDATE:

A Special Invitation for GFCP Customers.

– read more

CB UPDATE:

Welcome TUV USA, Inc. As An Approved Third Party GFCP Auditing Company.

– read more

Orion Partners with Eurofins to Expand Auditing and Certification Services.

– read more

GETTING SOCIAL:

What Are Consumers Saying?

– read more

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Meet Us Face-to-Face At Upcoming Events.

– read more

UPCOMING TRAINING:

Industry, Consultant & Auditor Training in Sydney, Australia.

– read more

INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION:

RC Show 2018 | Canada’s Largest Food Services Trade Event.

– read more

CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT:

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery: How Hard Could That Be?

– read more

INDUSTRY RESOURCE:

GFCP Quick Reference Guide Now Available Online!

– read more


ACG UPDATE:

Message from the President

Paul Valder, President & CEO, Allergen Control Group Inc.

I am always amazed by the number of inquiries that the Gluten-Free Certification Program receives from small and innovative gluten-free start-up companies, and as a result, continue to consider how we can better serve this important segment of the market.

Allergen Control Group is and always has been committed to supporting entrepreneurial business through the provision of valuable information, key industry introductions and affordable certification fees. However, facilities thinking about entering the Program need to understand that it is not the certification fee itself which prevents many SME’s from successfully acquiring GFCP certification, but the senior management commitment to allocating the financial resources and manpower required to implement food safety education, employee training, documented policies, preventative controls/ procedures, a third-party audit process and the associated continued improvement disciplines. These requirements can be overwhelming to many SME’s.

As is the case with many other health claims, alternate gluten-free certifications can be obtained by simply sending out a food sample to a lab and receiving a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Although, this may be faster and cheaper, believe me these types of supposed credible certifications will not eliminate a risk of product failure and certainly will keep an owner “up-at-night” worrying if a recall is about to happen. I encourage you to read this overview of Management Systems to understand the true difference between a product certification and the Gluten-Free Certification Program.

In addition to providing an effective gluten-free certification process for effectively controlling gluten sources and cross contamination within a facility, ACG now makes available quick and affordable online food safety and allergen training modules, geared toward frontline employees. These convenient “micro” modules are available on an individual basis for as low as $34.99, or as part of a corporate package, whereby many more employees can be trained and monitored, as an affordable method of reducing operational risk and generating audit evidence.

Also, on the horizon is the GFCP Food Safety Manual. This mega manual will include templated forms for standardizing policies and operating procedures along with full guidance for SME’s to self evaluate their business when implementing a food safety system in order to meet the readiness requirements of a third-party GFCP audit and certification process. This will be an awesome and affordable tool, designed to serve smaller food manufacturing operations, where having basic good documented manufacturing practices and HACCP pre-requisite programs, is a must.

Please stay tuned over the summer months, as ACG announces new and collaborative business opportunities for our existing valued customers, and practical added values for facilities and brands, to bundle services when joining the GFCP.


WELCOME NEW BRANDS:

Exciting New Brands to Enter the Program!

Brands


GFCP PROGRAM UPDATE:

GFCPACG Strengthens Technical Expertise & Business Development.

ACG is pleased to announce the addition of two new key roles to support growing gluten-free, allergen and free-from manufacturing claims.

The Allergen Control Group is proud to announce two new positions in its Canadian office, created to better serve customers and build their already technically competent reputation throughout North America and the world. Allergen Control Group Inc. (ACG) is the standard owner of the globally recognized Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP), the only ISO 17021 accredited gluten-free management system certification designed for manufacturers and brand owners committed to producing safe, reliable gluten-free products.

“We are very proud to welcome Barry Meikle to fill the new Technical Services Coordinator position” states Jessica Burke, Manager of Compliance & Technical Services, at ACG. “Having Barry join our GFCP technical team will be a huge asset for ACG and allow us to better respond to customer needs as well as communicate with our Certification Bodies and their growing GFCP approved global food auditor base.”

Barry Meikle is an expert in food safety with a B.Sc. in Environmental Health from Cardiff Metropolitan University, a Level 3 Award in HACCP for Food Manufacturing, and is an IRCA ISO 9001:2015 certified auditor. He has extensive work experience in the food industry, environmental health and food standards having worked for Foods Standards Agency in Wales, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and Newport City Council. Being well aware of HACCP requirements and allergen regulations, Barry will support managing new developments for ACG’s gluten, allergen and free-from standards and product claims within the food, drug and natural health product sectors.

In addition, ACG welcomes Natalie Santos to the GFCP team in a newly created business development capacity. Natalie will provide interested SME’s with support and coaching throughout the onboarding process. Working from the Head Office, she will work closely with the business development and marketing teams, with a mandate to grow the number of gluten-free brands and certified manufacturers within the program. “I am excited to work closely with Natalie and am confident our customers will welcome her knowledge, maturity and overall strong business acumen,” states Paul Valder, ACG president and CEO.


Beyond CeliacBEYOND CELIAC UPDATE:

An Extremely Strict Gluten-Free Diet May Reduce Quality of Life.

Amy Ratner, Beyond Celiac Medical and Science News Analyst

Gluten-free certification can help reduce anxiety associated with an extremely strict gluten-free diet. New study finds celiac disease patients’ quality of life is less when they are hypervigilant.

Hypervigilance about the gluten-free diet can lead to reduced quality of life for adults and teenagers, a new study by Columbia University researchers found.

For food manufacturers in the gluten-free marketplace, it is important to adopt gluten-free certification programs to reduce the damaging stress and anxiety associated with trying to keep a very strict gluten-free diet. Consumers rely on this information to make informed, safe choices about the foods they eat.

“Extreme vigilance to the gluten-free diet may increase symptoms, such as anxiety and fatigue and, therefore, lower quality of life,” researchers from the Department of Health and Behavior Studies and the Columbia University Celiac Disease Center wrote. “In other words, there may be a cost to hypervigilance for some individuals with celiac disease.”
In addition, both dietary adherence and social and emotional well-being need to be addressed by healthcare providers, the study, published in the journal, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, concludes.

“We absolutely must continue to advocate for a strict 100 percent gluten-free diet for individuals with celiac disease,” said lead study author Randi Wolf, Ph.D., associate professor of human nutrition. “I think what our research showed, was that, for some, such hypervigilance may come at a cost that needs to be supported and addressed concurrent with following a strict gluten-free diet.”

Hypervigilant Defined

The 50 adults and 30 teenagers who participated in the study were categorized as being “extremely vigilant” and “less vigilant” based on a review of gluten exposure detailed through three days of diet recollection and phone interviews by nutrition experts.

Participants were considered “extremely vigilant” if they: reported no evidence of accidental or intentional gluten ingestion, would only eat at celiac-friendly restaurants, asked thorough questions when eating out, called each manufacturer before eating a new food or taking a new medication, kept a completely gluten-free home to avoid potential for cross-contamination, or seemed to be take a lot of extra precautions to avoid cross-contamination. Those who were “less vigilant” may have had evidence of hidden sources of gluten on their diet recalls, reported that they don’t always ask thorough questions when eating out, checked labels on some but not all medications or products, or may have reported intentional gluten consumption on occasions.

Julie Kennedy, who has, and is the parent of child with, celiac disease, said she would have been considered hypervigilant if she had participated in the study. Despite her vigilance, when they eat out, she and her daughter can never really relax and enjoy themselves, and they feel the anxiety the researchers found. She agrees it reduces their quality of life.

“What the research shows is that we cannot assume the gluten-free diet is the complete answer,” said Kennedy, a member of the Beyond Celiac Patient and Family Advisory Council. “Stress and anxiety are very damaging, so what risks are we developing?”

When weighing the consequences of a minute amount of gluten getting into the diet versus the emotional toll of always worrying about food, Kennedy wondered, “In the long term, which is worse?”

While it’s universally accepted that celiac disease patients need to eliminate harmful gluten from wheat, barley and rye from their diets, the particulars of achieving a gluten-free diet are less clear. In the United States, foods labeled gluten-free have to contain less than 20 parts per million.
Celiac disease patients have to make choices every day about the risk of gluten exposure from the gluten-free products they purchase, to the restaurants they frequent, to the social settings where they feel safe eating. Consumer confidence can be increased when a food is certified gluten-free and meets strict guidelines when it is made and packaged.

The Columbia study focused on the association between quality of life, energy levels, adherence to and knowledge about the gluten-free diet. Participants were diagnosed with celiac disease through an intestinal biopsy and had been on the gluten-free diet for more than one year.

Quality of life scores

Adults who were hypervigilant had quality of life scores that were significantly lower than those who were less vigilant. Likewise, adults with lower energy levels reported significantly lower quality of life. Patterns were similar for teenagers. Meanwhile, hypervigilant adults were more knowledgeable about the gluten-free diet than those who were less vigilant.

Extreme vigilance that creates anxiety and stress may lead to low energy levels and fatigue, the authors wrote, but added that this relationship needs more investigation.

“The hypervigilance described in our sample, for example bringing their own dishes to restaurants or other homes and thorough and repeated questioning at restaurants, may come with a meaningful and relevant cost,” the study authors wrote.

They noted that the study’s findings conflict with previous research that has shown that better dietary adherence is associated with higher quality of life scores and suggested that the tools used to collect information on quality of life and dietary adherence might explain the difference. The Columbia study used celiac disease specific measurements and relied on nutrition professionals’ evaluations of vigilance compared to patients’ self-reported perceptions.

For example, the study says, one participant perceived herself to be extremely vigilant, reporting she never had gluten in the past month but went on to say she took gluten-containing croutons off her salad before eating it.

Promoting well-being

The potentially negative consequences of being extremely diligent about a strict gluten-free diet should lead healthcare providers to be aware of the importance of promoting both adherence to the diet and social and emotional well-being, the study concludes.

The authors called for ongoing involvement of a registered dietitian that continues beyond an initial visit at the time of celiac disease diagnosis. Only 16 percent of adults and about 27 percent of teenagers were seeing a dietitian at the time they were participating in the study. Most had no follow-up after diagnosis.

A recent Beyond Celiac study showed that more than one in four celiac disease patients diagnosed in the last five years have not had any follow-up care.

The National Institutes of Health recommends that celiac disease patients consult with a skilled dietitian and have continuous long-term follow-up by a multidisciplinary health team. “It appears these guidelines are rarely met among our participants,” the study says.

Dietitians need to develop ways to help celiac disease patients address difficulties in dining out. Seventy four percent of adults and about 87 percent of the teenagers in the study cited aspects of dining out as a barrier to adhering to the gluten-free diet. Desire to take advantage of increased restaurant options, combined with distrust of menus and ill-informed wait staff were reported as “considerable sources of frustration and anxiety.”

The study illustrates the critical need to develop and evaluate nutrition education strategies that promote increased adherence to the gluten free diet while at the same time taking care to maintain a high quality of life, the authors wrote.

Family-centered nutrition education

More than 80 percent of study participants reported that supportive family and friends are important when it comes to following the gluten-free diet. Consequently, the impact of family-centered nutrition education needs to be explored as a way to increase adherence and quality of life.

“We also need to explore interventions that may help reduce some of the barriers described in our study that created the most anxiety and stress,” Wolf said. “We are currently pilot testing various interventions, such as gluten sensor devices, cooking-classes, and online discussion tools, to learn about their potential utility in promoting a strict gluten-free diet, but also whether or not such interventions could help improve quality of life.”

Kennedy said she would welcome real solutions, especially follow-up care from a dietitian with expertise in celiac disease. Like some study participants, she saw a dietitian once when diagnosed, but the dietitian knew less than she did about the gluten-free diet. Neither Kennedy or her daughter have had follow-up nutritional care. Regular visits with a knowledgeable dietitian are especially appealing to Kennedy because she thinks it would give her now pre-teen daughter someone she could trust to discuss the gluten-free diet challenges teenagers face, something she might not talk about with her mother.

“I’m glad researchers did this study,” Kennedy said, noting that at the very least it acknowledges the complexity of celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. “When my doctor diagnosed me, he said, ‘Go on the diet and I’ll see you in a year.’ People need to understand it is not as easy as it sounds.”


Frank MassongTECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Gluten in Drug Products and Associated USFDA Labeling Recommendations.

Frank Massong, VP Government & Regulatory, Allergen Control Group Inc.

For many years, the celiac community has been advocating for more accurate labeling of the gluten content in foods, oral drugs and other similar products where gluten could be added and thereafter consumed. The good news is that USFDA is finally addressing the fears of persons with the medical conditions of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity beyond just food via their publication of a draft guidance entitled “Gluten in Drug Products and Associated Labeling Recommendations”.

The intent of the guidance document is to provide manufacturers of oral drugs with direction to help them voluntarily present more information for this special and very real consumer need. This guidance affects only oral drugs, excluding natural health products and dietary supplements, but includes topical drug products applied to or near the lips (e.g. lip sunscreens) and drug products applied inside the mouth (e.g. cold sore treatments, drugs delivered to or via the oral cavity). This makes sense when one considers the pathology of the medical concern being, that no gluten is consumed at all or daily ingestion amounts of between 10-40 mg are not exceeded.

In USFDA guidance, they encourage and recommend drug manufacturers wishing to make voluntary statements about gluten content on labels or on inserts to use the statement “Contains no ingredient made from a gluten-containing grain (wheat, barley, or rye)” and not the more commonly heard statement “gluten-free” which is recognized as applying to food. The manufacturer would need to know and be able to prove to the USFDA if asked, presumably through their required Pharmaceutical Quality System, that this is true, and that no ingredient was derived directly or indirectly from wheat, barley, rye or their hybrids. The USFDA wisely makes a special case about highly processed (e.g. fermented) ingredients either derived from wheat starch or from starch of unknown botanical origin which could be contaminated with gluten. Detection of gluten after fermentation is technically difficult but possible. There is no mention of ingredients which have been subjected to hydrolyzation which have the same difficulty.

Laudably, the above gluten statement is intended to provide health care professionals and consumers with consistent, clear, accurate, and readily understood information about the gluten content of the pharmaceutical products they prescribe and use. Furthermore, the phrase facilitates easy searching for terms such as “gluten” and “wheat.” Regrettably, this is only a small win for the celiac community as the guidance is voluntary for manufacturers.

Consider the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), where a declaration of any wheat added to a food is mandatory and if undeclared, any detected residue could be subject to a recall. Or similarly, consider the Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule of 2013 which equates gluten-free declarations to meaning freedom from wheat, rye, barley or any hybrids. Both FALCPA and the gluten-free rules administered by the food groups in USFDA are intended to protect the public and go further than the USFDA’s guidance for gluten in drug products which applies only to oral drugs to achieve a reasonable level of consumer protection and safety.

Unfortunately, the USFDA guidance seems to discourage the recognizable term “gluten-free” because they “have not established criteria for gluten-free statements on oral drug products, and it may be difficult to substantiate that a drug product is free of gluten”. Also, they are not aware of “analytical test methods currently validated to detect or quantify gluten in finished drug products or in drug ingredients at the low levels at which it would generally be expected to be present, if at all” and they “have not determined whether a gluten-free statement on oral drug products should refer to an absence of intact gluten or whether such a statement should also require an absence of gluten peptides”. “I think that the USFDA drug people need to talk to their food colleagues who have figured it out and overcome the same policy and technical issues for the same objective. Otherwise, USFDA’s path to relevant action to help the celiac consumer will be a long one”.


TECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Understanding Food Safety Investigation and Recall Process.

FigureFigure courtesy of CFIA

The food safety investigation and recall process is initiated when there is reason to believe that a contaminated food can or has reached the marketplace. The process is managed by the following regulatory agencies:

  • USA
    • USFDA (all foods and drugs excluding the following exceptions)
    • USDA (meat, poultry and processed egg products)
      Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau a.k.a. TTB (all alcoholic beverages, spirits and wine)
  • Canada
    • CFIA with support by Health Canada (all foods, including alcoholic beverages, spirits and wine)

There are several triggers that start a food safety investigation. Some of these could be stimulated by activities by government regulating agencies such as findings during surveillance inspections or test results from targeted surveys. Also, external sources can be drivers such as a detected pattern of reported illnesses (e.g. Public Health Agency Canada or the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), voluntary manufacturer or distributor notifications, information coming from other foreign inspection agencies and consumer complaints.

The single leading cause of food product investigations and recalls continues to be the presence of undeclared allergens and the resultant misbranding of products. When conducting regular food safety inspections, CFIA, USFDA and USDA are increasingly focused on allergen control failures within food facilities and this will likely reveal more labeling problems which lead to additional investigations and recalls.

A food safety investigation includes inspection and related activities to verify if there is a food safety hazard and to determine the nature and extent of the problem. The regulatory agencies do the health risk assessment of the identified hazard(s) whether physical (e.g. glass), biological (e.g. listeria) or chemical (e.g. undeclared allergen such as wheat). Using this tool, the regulator determines the most appropriate action, including whether or not a recall is warranted or some other actions. If a recall is determined to be necessary, a decision is made on what class to assign to the recall: Class I (high risk), Class II (moderate risk) or Class III (low and no risk) and immediately communicates this to the public and other affected national and foreign stakeholders. For the sake of speed, regulatory agencies utilized multi-media and may be used simultaneously right up to direct and individual persons by email if they request it.

The regulatory agencies’ top priority is timely and effective response to prevent or reduce the impact of any food safety emergency. This can be a complex, deductive process requiring the interaction of many stakeholders. This includes not only rapid communication but also follow up action to ensure containment and withdrawal are effected, and any needed improvements at the manufacturing level are enacted by those responsible to prevent a recurrence. Note that the majority of recalls have no reported illnesses.

The regulatory agencies respond to thousands of reported incidents each year resulting in food safety investigations of which less than 10 % result in an actual recall. Of these, the vast majority are voluntary and precautionary in nature. However, all regulatory agencies reserve the right to force a recall when the public is judged to be at risk and could initiate other enforcement actions (e.g. the courts) as well. However, a mandated recall is a rare occurrence as manufacturers see this as a valuable process and credible risk communication tool if needed. The result is to ultimately reduce business and brand risk by showing due diligence and fast reaction. Having a strong management system with good traceability of inputs and finished products will reduce the scope of the damage that a recall might induce. Undoubtedly, the mandating of preventative controls in both Canada and the USA will level the playing field between and strengthen all the links, domestic and foreign, in the food chain.

Everyone playing their part helps make the Canadian and USA food safety system the best in the world, protecting consumers and businesses alike. If you need any assistance, please let us know.


requirementsTRAINING UPDATE:

ACG Increases Ease of Access to Mandatory Food Safety Training for Manufacturers

Food safety, food fraud and food security continue to be growing concerns in North America as demonstrated by the 764 food recalls that occurred in 2016. As a result, there is a continued increase in new and better voluntary food safety management system initiatives, including mandatory government requirements, such as the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

Food manufacturers and importers of record are now totally accountable for all the risks and associated liabilities of producing safe and legal food. However, initially getting up to speed and then following new regulations and best practices can be time consuming and costly for manufacturers to implement, not to mention a challenge when trying to affect a culture change throughout the organization. To support food manufacturers in meeting mandatory annual employee prerequisite training requirements founded on good preventative manufacturing practices (GMPs), Toronto-based Allergen Control Group Inc. (ACG) now offers quick, convenient and cost effective online food safety training modules for frontline employees.

Convenient mini-modules allow busy frontline employees to quickly and conveniently learn content and check their understanding by completing a short quiz. This means supervisors and managers, no longer need to pull employees off the floor as training content can be consumed during gaps in busy work schedules. Managers can affordably view employee results and track team progress, internally. Each brief module will introduce a relevant topic ranging from managing allergens, cleaning, record keeping and pest management to risk assessment, HACCP and food defense.

Jessica Burke, Manager of Compliance and Technical Services for the Allergen Control Group says that “[the] online training modules have been designed to deliver basic food safety concepts in as little as 10 minutes and to foster employee engagement. The fact that they are delivered electronically allows users to start and stop as needed and learn at their own pace, while also allowing the company to avoid unnecessary interruptions to normal production”.

ACG has launched eight initial mini-modules, with new modules being added each month. Modules can be subscribed to on an individual basis, or at a discount when subscribed to as part of an available corporate training portal. Ranging from a basic package, which provides access to 3 modules for 15 users, to the Unlimited Package, there is something for companies of all sizes to optimize their workforce performance and manage frontline employee training within the corporate training portal. Custom packages are also available by contacting training@glutenfreecert.com.

“As owners of the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP), ACG is committed to helping our clients be pro-active, reduce risk and protect their brand.” says Paul Valder, president and CEO of the Allergen Control Group, Inc.

For further details visit http://www.glutenfreecert.com/training/level-1


CCA UPDATE:

A Special Invitation for GFCP Customers.

CCAThe Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) is hosting their Annual National Conference on June 9th, 2018 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, Ontario and are offering sponsorship opportunities for companies that provide Gluten-Free products and services.

As the CCA has a large number of followers (including customers and final users), participating as a sponsor is a great showcase and can potentially open new business opportunities for your brand.

Also taking place at the event, Frank Massong, VP, Government & Regulatory for the Allergen Control Group, on behalf of the Canadian Celiac Association, will present the recent stakeholder progress resulting from the funding received from Canada’s Growing Forward 2, AgriMarketing- Assurance Systems stream, designed to help increase awareness and enhance access to Canadian sources of gluten-free grains.

Please view the full invitation here and do not hesitate to contact liaison@ottawaceliac.ca if you have further questions.


CB UPDATE:

TUVACG Welcomes TUV USA, Inc. As An Approved Third Party GFCP Auditing Company.

TUV USA, Inc. and the Allergen Control Group Inc. (ACG) are proud to announce TUV USA’s induction into the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) as a newly trained and approved third party auditing and certification company. As a trusted supplier of valuable food safety assessments, TUV USA is pleased at the opportunity to broaden their food safety competence. TUV USA and ACG share a common goal – Making the World Safer. This partnership solidifies the commitment to this goal.

The GFCP is the leading science-based certification program for brand owners wishing to make a safe and reliable gluten-free product claim and is focused exclusively on annual certification of a site’s internal manufacturing and gluten management system to complement end-product testing. The GFCP provides unique gluten-free brand building opportunities in partnership with North America’s most credible consumer-facing celiac organizations, Beyond Celiac in the USA and the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) in Canada.

“We are happy to collaborate with ACG to administer GFCP Audits to our customers.” said TUV USA’s Food Safety Project Manager, Ashley Smejkal. “It gives me great pride to offer this service to our customers.”


AUDITOR UPDATE:

OrionOrion Partners with Eurofins to Expand Auditing and Certification Services.

“Orion Assessment Services expressed interest in being able to provide certification services in the food industry under our accreditation to Canada and other parts of the world and we are happy to partner with them in this endeavor,” said Gary Smith, Director of Eurofins Food Safety Systems.

The partnership will allow Eurofins to broaden their BRC Global Standards and GFSI scheme auditing resource base and provide them additional expertise in BRC to utilize. It will also allow Orion Assessment Services to operate under the Eurofins accreditation for BRC, SQF and FSSC 22000 schemes.

“For our existing food clients, we see this as a fantastic opportunity to be able to offer them a ‘one stop shop’ for all of their food certification needs,” said Aaron Campbell, Vice-President of Orion Agri-Food Safety.

Orion Assessment Services currently offers services for the Gluten Free Certification program, GMP and HACCP audits, as well as gap assessments across North America. In 2017, with demand from new and existing clients, they decided to expand their existing portfolio to offer GFSI audits. Orion Assessment Services has thousands of customers around the world bearing various ISO standards.

As a certification body, this collaboration will enhance the standards currently offered through Orion Assessment Services’ accreditation for ISO 17065 and ISO 17021, as well as offering brand new opportunities in the various GFSI schemes, for both existing and new clients internationally.

Eurofins has similar regional partnership agreements with other parts of the world, like Chile and New Zealand, who work under their accreditation.

“Having met with the Eurofins dedicated food safety team, I was impressed with their knowledge, professionalism, passion, desire to grow but not at the expense of service delivery to existing customers and by how much they value their employees and contractors,” Campbell said.

“Our Eurofins team looks forward to partnering with Orion Assessment Services and making new connections with segments of the food industry together,” Smith said.


GETTING SOCIAL:

What Are Consumers Saying?

Get Social

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Meet Us Face-to-Face At Upcoming Events.

If you are planning to attend any of the following events and are an existing GFCP brand or manufacturer requiring additional marketing support, please let us know prior to the show so we can discuss the details and try to deliver on your marketing needs. If you are thinking about applying to the GFCP or would like more information, we would welcome the opportunity to set up a convenient time to meet before or at the event with one of our Business Development people. Please contact Natalie Santos to set-up a meeting time.

Events


UPCOMING TRAINING:

GFCP Industry, Consultant & Auditor Training in Sydney, Australia.

Training


INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION:

RC Show 2018 | Canada’s Largest Foodservice Trade Event.

Industry ParticipationACG spent 3 days at Restaurant Canada’s RC Show 2018, February 25-27, experiencing the future of food service. The event showcases cutting-edge products, pioneering people and transformative ideas that will empower you to grow your business and deliver remarkable guest experiences.

It was a jam packed schedule visiting 1000+ exhibits within 8 themed pavilions, listening to industry speakers and attending seminars and interactive demos. Along the way we saw some familiar faces including Registered Dietitian and featured Speaker Shelley Case and customers; Kinnikinnick, Ste. Anne’s Bakery, Avena, Italpasta, Primo, Mi & Stu, Toppits, Dare, HB Specialty Foods and Brandt.


CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT:

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery: How Hard Could That Be?

Cloud 9Let’s just say that taking the beginnings of an idea to become an internationally recognized and trusted supplier is a daunting task – especially in a brand-new market segment.

Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery started with a simple concept: Gluten-free without compromising taste and texture. How hard could that be?

Founder, Ray Porcellato, was already creating gourmet marshmallows in a variety of flavours that were delicious and had a gluten-free call-out on the packaging.

And then an associate offered him a gluten-free cookie…

Let’s just say that Ray did not fully ingest what he expected to be a great cookie. In fact, it was so distressing that he literally found an opportunity to make the world a better place. He searched for all kinds of gluten-free products trying more than he cares to remember only to discover that nothing was palatable.

Ray comes by his pallet honestly as his mother is a master baker. Between the two of them, they created what is now the foundation of everything Cloud 9. The flour they created could virtually be used for any type of baking to replace wheat flour for those who wanted an exceptional gluten free flour option to use at home.

The only challenge was to show people that they could use this flour and make delicious everything including breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, pizza shells, bars, pies, and well, you get the idea. So, what better place to showcase this than our own bakery? The only “real” hurdle was cross contamination with anything wheat. And how hard could that be?

This was when Ray partnered up with his friend, Mike Betcher of B3 Communications, who had been helping with his packaging and branding for his international marshmallow business. Together they created a retail bakery to showcase Ray’s creations and to prove that the flour worked.

Cloud 9 was then introduced to the BC Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association – a dedicated group of celiacs who were committed to ensuring that what was professed as gluten-free, was in fact, gluten-free. At that time, there was talk of a gluten-free certification standard which manufacturing facilities could implement, but it was still in its infancy. We committed to the chapter that we would become certified to ensure our quality and safety. And, how hard could that be?

Our biggest challenge, was producing our unique flour in a certified facility, and there just wasn’t any to be found in Canada and only one we could find in California. And while Cloud 9 started with the California plant, we quickly decided that it only made sense to build our own blending and packing facility. And how hard could that be?

Thus, began our journey to become a blending and packaging facility certified in the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP). From the outset, we knew that we had to be a credible manufacturer to not only satisfy our retail and wholesale customers, but ultimately to ensure that when a celiac used our products, they were safe – guaranteed!

We’re Number 2!

Starting from scratch is both a blessing and a curse. However, with the right talent, we built the second certified gluten-free dry mix blending and packaging facility in Burnaby BC. And while we were not the first – congratulations goes out to PBF Pita Bread Factory – we’re proud to be Number 2.

The Allergen Control Group guided us through the process that would ultimately provide Cloud 9 their approval. And, how hard could that be?

Truthfully, when two like-minded organizations work together, the path to success is very smooth. Cloud 9 and the Allergen Control Group, worked as partners with the goal of creating a foundation would ensure quality, controls and safety for our consumers.

We’re International!

Certification in the GFCP means that we’re the real deal. Cloud 9’s plant is Gluten-Free Certified, Costco Certified, Kosher and Organic Certified. We have shipped our products around the world as well as across this continent. And how hard could that be?

And while we created this facility for us, we wanted to share our experience with other brands to continue to grow gluten-free options for consumers. We’re open for co-pack business and specialize in small to medium run batches for those looking to get into this market.

We’re proud to be a trusted international manufacturer and even prouder to be Number 2! To learn more visit cloud9specialtybakery.com


INDUSTRY RESOURCE:

Guide

GFCP Quick Reference Guide Now Available Online!

Download a copy of the Gluten-Free Certification Program Quick Reference Guide e-book today. This handy pocket sized guide is full of useful information for anyone wishing to learn more about the program including manufacturers, brand owners, consultants, auditors and more.
Topics include: Program Accreditation, Trademarks & Partners, What is Celiac Disease & Gluten, Questionable Food & Ingredients, Testing, Roadmap to Certification, Applying to the Program, Types of Audits & Facilities, Self-Evaluation Checklist, Oats, Approved CB’s, Consultants & Labs, Definitions and Helpful Links! Download Now


GFCP Blog

Newsletter – Winter 2018

THE GLUTEN-FREE STANDARD

A PUBLICATION OF THE ALLERGEN CONTROL GROUP INC.

In This Edition…..


ACG UPDATE:

Message from the President.

– read more

WELCOME NEW BRANDS:

Welcome Kinnikinnick and Other Exciting New Brands!

– read more

GFCP PROGRAM UPDATE:

Change In Prerequisite Requirement for CB’s Applying for ANAB Accreditation

– read more

BEYOND CELIAC UPDATE:

Celiac Disease Research Neglected in Federal Funding

– read more

TECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Key Considerations in Adopting a Gluten-Free Standard

– read more

CCA UPDATE:

Smart Cookie

– read more

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Certification Could Mean Saving Lives

– read more

GETTING SOCIAL:

What Are Consumers Saying?

– read more

UPCOMING TRAINING:

Gluten-Free Industry, Consultant & Auditor Online Training Is Now Live!

– read more

INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION:

Grocery Innovations Canada, SQF, FQMC, PLMA and More!

– read more

INDUSTRY RESOURCE:

Accelerate New Food Ideas From “Concept to Commercialization”

– read more


ACG UPDATE:

Message from the President

Paul Valder, President & CEO, Allergen Control Group Inc.

Well, as we place a “wrap” on 2017, it’s hard to believe we have accomplished so much; both with our GFCP brand partners and the overall progress ACG has accomplished, on the global “free-from” food scene.

This past year, GFCP proudly announced accreditation in ISO 17021-1 Gluten Management System Certification, from ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board in Washington, DC. I would like to recognize Perry Johnson Registrars Inc., based in Michigan, as the very first North American certification body (CB) to meet the new GFCP ISO requirement. Hopefully, we will also be welcoming many more GFCP CB’s, who have volunteered to meet this new stringent requirement, before the end of 2018.

To better serve customer demand in 2017, ACG expanded its global auditor base to over 300 GFSI experienced and GFCP trained food auditors and is also in the process of adding another accreditation body in the Asia/Pacific Region.

Actively participating in many globally recognized food safety and allergy focussed industry events and addressing gluten and allergens as a serious food safety issue and not just a health claim, continues to position ACG as a subject matter expert. We will continue to expand our services in this “free-from” space by setting best practice standards and establishing meaningful compliance deliverables within the food industry, which will of course contribute to making a difference with consumers.

At the recent Food Marketing Institute Private Brands DC Summit, we heard from leading industry consultant Jim Wisner, of Wisner Marketing, about the terrific opportunity that US retailers have to combat the shift of the fast-growing on-line food retailers, by addressing a needed culture change and transitioning from a traditional transactional based approach with own-brand supplier bases, to a more collaborative approach. ACG encourages retailers to continue reducing food safety risks within their own-brand supply chain and also learning from their Canadian counterparts, about how to better collaborate to fully leverage/engage consistent consumer marketing/communication opportunities, around their on-pack gluten-free product claims. Increased collaboration amongst an internal cross-functional team combined with increased supplier collaboration, can reduce the risk of product failure and sell more product.

We have listened to our manufacturing customers and as of this January 2018, ACG will be launching the first of a series of affordable on-line 10-12 minute “micro” training modules, designed for front-line food handlers. Customized corporate “portal packages” will also be available for purchase. For those industry managers, supervisors, consultants and auditor, our online training and certification course is also affordably available by visiting: www.glutenfreecert.com/training/level-1.

In closing, thank you to our terrific loyal customers, great suppliers and strategic partners for supporting our mission to provide socially responsible services to industry and consumers. I hope that you and your families have a very happy, healthy holiday season and a prosperous and safe 2018.

Sincerely,
Paul


WELCOME NEW BRANDS:

Exciting New Brands to Enter the Program

Brands


GFCP PROGRAM UPDATE:

ANAB

Change In Prerequisite Requirement for CB’s Applying for ANAB Accreditation

With end of the year fast approaching, we would like to take the opportunity to remind all GFCP recognized Certification Bodies (CBs) of the deadline to transition to ISO/IEC 17021-1 accredited certification under the GFCP. Please refer to the announcement issued on January 11, 2017. The deadline for obtaining final accreditation before January 1st, 2019 is now only 12-months away and it takes an average of 9 to 12 months for a Certification Body to apply, present their documentation, undergo review and ultimately, to become fully accredited. ACG acknowledges that many of you are already on your way or have completed the process. Thank you.
 
You should be aware that since ACG first issued the announcement, there has been a change in the pre-requisite requirement for CB’s applying for ANAB accreditation.  Accreditation for ISO 22000 by ANAB is no longer the only option to meet the requirement for GFCP application. Under the revised rules, applicant CBs may be accredited for either ISO 22000 by ANAB or another IAF management systems MLA signatory Accreditation Body (AB), or be accredited for any GFSI-recognized certification program (e.g., BRC, SQF).  This change was announced in ANAB Heads Up 365.
 
For any questions related to accreditation, please contact Natalia Larrimer atnlarrimer@anab.org or 1.414.501.5445.
 
For any questions related to the GFCP, please contact Jessica Burke atjessica.burke@glutenfreecert.com or 1.866.817.0952 ext. 222.
 
In addition, we would like to announce that ACG is in the process of recognizing JAS-ANZ, the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand, as an accreditation body under the GFCP. JAS-ANZ is an IAF MLA signatory for management systems (ISO/IEC 17021-1) and is extending its ISO/IEC 17021-1 accreditation program to include GFMS. The launch of JAS-ANZ’s GFMS program is expected in the coming weeks. More news on this to follow as it develops.
 
Before the end of the 2017, ACG will be in contact with all GFCP CBs to confirm their application status for accreditation as well as their plans for transitioning all current certificates.


BEYOND CELIAC UPDATE:

Beyond CeliacCeliac disease research neglected in federal funding.

Amy Ratner, Beyond Celiac Medical and Science News Analyst

Celiac disease consistently received the lowest amount of federal research funding over a five-year period compared to other gastrointestinal conditions, a review of National Institutes of Health data found.

Additionally, the National Institute for Digestive and Kidney Diseases awarded the fewest number of grants to celiac disease research over the same period, from 2011 to 2015.

The review, published as commentary in the journal Gastroenterology, found that NIH funding, which is the major source of support for research in inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases, showed no association between the estimated prevalence or mortality rates of a disease.  In general, NIH support is seen as essential for improving the understanding of health and disease.
The review included celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), Barrett’s esophagus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Prevalence: The proportion of persons in a population who have a particular disease at a specified point in time or over a specified period of time.

Mortality rate: A measure of the frequency of occurrence of death in a defined population during a specified interval.

Celiac disease poorly understood

“These data suggest that a few diseases, including celiac disease and IBS, are underfunded in comparison with other diseases, especially when prevalence, burden and available treatment options are considered,” wrote authors Sonia Kupper, M.D., of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago, Daniel Leffler, M.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Emma Clerx, a Harvard University student.

Celiac disease, with a prevalence of about 1 percent and mortality rate of 1.3, the highest among the diseases reviewed, received about $3 million per year. Meanwhile, Crohn’s disease, which had the second lowest prevalence at .25 percent and a mortality rate of 1.1, received about $16 million per year, the highest amount of funding.

Ciaran Kelly, M.D., director of the Celiac Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said NIH neglect of celiac disease research occurs because the condition continues to be poorly understood and not well recognized by the medical community in the United States.

Celiac disease was until recently considered rare and most people who have it have not been diagnosed, he said. The increased mortality rate mentioned in the review of NIH funding, as well as the morbidity of the disease, are under-appreciated, noted Kelly, a member of the Beyond Celiac Board of Directors and its scientific and medical advisory council.

“There is a widespread assumption that the gluten-free diet is a panacea for celiac disease, consequently research and new treatments are incorrectly considered unnecessary,” he said.

The review authors noted that they are not suggesting that any one disease is more important and that prevalence is not the only measure of disease importance. But they pointed out that the inequity of funding is apparent when mortality rates are considered.  IBS and NALFD, neither of which is associated with increased mortality, still receive more funding than celiac disease.

“Although there is no global metric for disease importance, it is difficult to justify on medical and scientific bases a reason for such large and persistent funding differences,” the authors wrote. “Although Crohn’s disease has many available and emerging treatment options, celiac disease, for example, is more prevalent and has no current treatment to patients beyond the burdensome gluten-free diet.”

Patients feel the burden of celiac disease is so great that in one survey the only other condition that ranked at the same level of difficulty was end stage renal disease. And in one study, 25 percent of patients said the diet is so much of a burden that they regretted being diagnosed and would rather have continued having symptoms. 

Fewer grants awarded

When the study authors compared the number of NIH grants awarded per year, they found that Crohn’s disease received an average of 40 while celiac disease consistently received the least, at approximately eight.

All the other gastrointestinal diseases reviewed also received more grants than celiac disease in the timeframe reviewed.

NIH has the power to encourage research in desired areas, according to the review. The authors noted that EoE funding experienced an upward trend, “possibly owing to program announcements and requests for applications put out by the NIH.” The last request for funding applications for celiac disease was made by NIH 18 years ago.

Some possible reasons for the disparity in NIH funding cited by the authors include varying numbers of established research programs to recruit young investigators, fewer grants submitted because of a lack of in investigators in the field because of poor funding and narrow expertise of the peer reviews on NIH review committees.

In contrast to the diseases that get low funding, Crohn’s disease has ample public and private funding. This allows for extensive research, which in turn, favors more awards. “This may seem circuitous.  However, funding of Crohn’s disease research provides an example of the way in which success breeds success,” the authors wrote.

They conclude that intervention is necessary to improve the existent disparities in disease funding and urge national authorities to take notice and address the inequity to “improve progress across all gastrointestinal diseases and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” 


Frank

TECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Key Considerations in Adopting a Gluten-Free Standard

Frank Massong, VP Government & Regulatory, Allergen Control Group Inc.

The term “gluten-free” is an urgent food safety concern to the 1% of the population suffering from celiac disease and the 6% with gluten sensitivity, but it is also a concern for regulators, as evidenced by the number of gluten-related Class 1 and 2 recalls and regulatory initiatives we see.
 
If your food business seeks to serve this market segment, please remember that making a gluten-free claim falls into a highly regulated and scrutinized product category for consumers with a special dietary need. Failure to consider the sensitivity of the gluten-free market in brand communications and advertising can alienate an important segment of the market, and erode brand credibility and value. Consumers of gluten-free products are very savvy, use social media effectively and can be very critical of manufacturers who fail to deliver on their expectations. They also genuinely seek out recognizable point-of-purchase trademarks on packaging that effectively communicates that due diligence has been applied to the product they are purchasing.
 
What is Gluten?

Gluten is defined as the protein fractions from grains like wheat, rye, barley, triticale and hybrids thereof. For celiacs and gluten-sensitive individuals, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment. These people get sick when there is a failure. Therefore, it is understandable that 70% of these consumers seek out products that are connected to third party certification (e.g. a gluten-free certification program) whenever possible. Self-declarations made by manufacturers are less credible.
 
Over 100 million North Americans buy gluten-free products (approximately 51% of consumers). This amounts to more than $10 billion in sales, and this is growing at more than 10% annually. By participating in this market and seeking out certification, companies can benefit from the gluten-free market and its exponential growth by communicating their commitment to producing safe, reliable and trusted gluten-free products for consumers.
 
Becoming a Gluten-Free Facility

There are some challenges for manufacturers who want to move forward with gluten-free production. Management and employees need to become gluten-aware and fully committed to gluten-free controls as a food safety issue similar to undeclared allergens. Defining the procedures, documentation, internal limits and controls to achieve an outcome that accommodates all markets is important. After that, one needs to decide to become a dedicated gluten-free facility or continue to manage production in a combined gluten-free and non-gluten-free facility with the inherent risks of cross contamination.
 
There are a number of ways to consistently achieve this. Firstly, a company needs to develop a management system that calls out gluten as a chemical hazard. This is much easier if a high level food safety management system is already in place (e.g. GFSI benchmarked standard). Combining your food safety audit with a Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) audit, the only scheme presently offering this, can result in substantial savings. Testing is an important tool but is of limited value without a management system, due to the inherent deviations of results caused by processing and cross-reactivity of ingredients. Most companies link gluten to procedures that they use to manage allergens. The key is to get good suppliers who can consistently supply gluten-free ingredients with proof, which will complement your efforts to reduce or eliminate cross-contamination with gluten (i.e. start clean…stay clean).
 
Regulations Vary

Regulations between countries (e.g. Canada, USA and Europe) vary and you may wish to access professional assistance to navigate the regulatory and consumer perception maze or come under a recognized certification program which facilitates this (e.g. GFCP). Leveraging certification can be effectively used to gain rapid access to the growing gluten-free market by facilitating and enabling key relationships with manufacturers, brands, retailers and consumers.


CCA UPDATE:

Smart CookieSmart Cookie

Melissa Secord, Executive Director, CCA

Who doesn’t like the smell of a freshly baked cookies? How about hundreds being baked at once?

That’s the delightful aroma that wafts through the production facility at Terra Cotta Foods in Georgetown, Ontario.

Of course, for people with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, the warm fuzzy feeling that everyone gets when they smell cookies baking can quickly turn to caution, worry or disappointment, since cookies most often contain gluten. But at Terra Cotta Foods, you need not worry. The company may be best-known for their (gluten-filled) ice cream cookie sandwich, Ice Dawgs, but they’ve been proudly producing gluten-free cookies – along with muffins, loaves, cakes and brownies – for over a decade.

Founded in 1984 by Pat Coe, who proudly served school communities and fundraisers with peanut-free products, the company was taken over in 2012 by Jason Brass, who was happy to step in when Coe was ready to retire.

When the company expanded two years ago and moved locations just down the street, they made the decision to put in a dedicated gluten-free production area. It was a ‘no brainer’ for Brass. “Gluten-free product is a growing market with increased demand for quality, good tasting products. As a dad with a daughter with anaphylaxis, I understand personally the need for access to safe food.”

Why GFCP?

In 2013, Terra Cotta received its GFCP certification – which means that products carrying the trademark have met stringent requirements for the manufacture of gluten-free products. Using proven food safety standards and an unbiased certification process, the GFCP delivers a global standard for the production of safe, reliable gluten-free products.“We are very proud of our Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) status,” says Brass.“We are focused on excellence. From our suppliers to our staff, we want to produce the very best gluten-free products.” The GFCP label demonstrates our credibility,” Brass says proudly. Far from feeling burdened by the audit process, Brass says he truly enjoys it. “It shows all our customers that we are a reliable, safe production facility,” he says. “Anything that comes out of our facility has gone through enormous care, testing and attention. Going GFCP took our production to another level.”

At the start of each and every day, all equipment is swabbed and tested by staff to ensure no contamination. They repeat this swabbing multiple times throughout the day. Even products that arrived from suppliers that are also certified as clean undergo another check at Terra Cotta before they are added
to any product.

Brass has made a concerted effort to educate his staff about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. “We want them to really understand why we go through these steps and why it is important to the end customer to see that GFCP seal,” he says.

As you can imagine, one of the perks of working at a food manufacturer is taste-testing the product. Ankur Goel is Terra Cotta’s recipe guru and he regularly solicits feedback from staff on new products. When it comes to making new, tasty, gluten-free products, he relishes the challenge. “Ankur had us try a new cookie the other day and the whole office was buzzing,” Brass says. When Ankur revealed that the yummy treat was actually gluten-free, it caused a happy stir among the employees. “We want to have delicious gluten-free products that everyone will enjoy,” says Brass. If you are looking to try some Terra Cotta Food products, and happen to be near Georgetown, Ontario stop by their factory store.


Tracy BushGUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Certification Could Mean Saving Lives

Tracy Bush, Nutrimom®- Food Allergy Liason

Each year, food products are a part of unplanned allergic reactions, hospitalizations and even fatalities due to incorrect labeling and certification. Today’s consumers are on guard in regards to the foods that they buy and many continue to raise concerns about companies that are not showcasing their food certifications. To a company, a certification may seem like just another added expense but to the people purchasing their goods, these are gold stars of approval and an extra precaution in regards to food safety.

Recent statistics found at Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Connection Team (F.A.A.C.T.) shares that “Food allergies affect approximately 15 million Americans, including 6 million children. The prevalence of food allergies appears to be increasing among children under the age of 18- that is 2 students in every classroom.” [1] With so many companies introducing items with new ingredients and wishing to become more allergy-aware, this is a huge percentage of consumers to ensure the safety of.  As daunting as it may seem, knowing how to label properly will begin an awakening of knowledge for the company utilizing it as well as the employees who will be the forefront to those inquiring about specific ingredient facts. Labeling basics can be easily learned and are seen as three basic areas of need: allergens, production and precise information.

  1. Allergens and Gluten The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that an item containing an ingredient with protein from a major food allergen be visible in the ingredient label. There are eight allergens included in this list, which are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy, but gluten was recently added as well (voluntary, not mandatory). “Any food product bearing a gluten-free claim labeled on or after August 5, 2014 must meet the requirements of the agency’s gluten-free labeling rule. With this uniform definition, consumers with celiac disease can choose foods with greater confidence.” [2]
  2. Production If your facility produces items that include both allergenic and non-allergenic ingredients then this is an extremely important area to be addressed. If the wording on a label is not precise, this will be a reason to make potential customers put your item back on the shelf. Typical concerns include the following:
  • Are the ingredients processed on shared equipment?
  • If shared equipment is being used, what is your procedure to ensure cross-contamination does not occur?
  • What is your company’s method of cleaning and sterilizing the equipment?
  • Are the food items being run at the same time, the same days of the week and/or in the same room or facility?
  • How does your company test for allergy compliance within these products and how often?
  • At what parts per million of undeclared allergens per volume or serving does your company gauge a product safe or unsafe for allergic consumers?
  1. Precise Information A new consumer has the task of trying to remember what your product is and (hopefully) find the time to research it through your company’s website and/or customer service department. Consumers, all consumers not just those with food allergies, appreciate clearly labeled packages. Keep in mind that this is more than just allergenic items; today’s shoppers look at everything from where the ingredients were sourced and processed to which affiliations the product is associated with. Your label is part of what consumers are researching: One typo, one wrong ingredient statement or even the lack of an ingredient can cause an endless flood of concerned people.

For any company to become not only food law-compliant but also to be seen as a producer that strives to display its food allergy safety practices, certification and labeling is one of the must-do’s. Food labels are now part of consumers’ shopping habits. Whether it is for possible allergens or to view any other potential red flags, your company’s label is the first line of information to everyone picking it up. The next step may sound very simple but it’s extremely important- stay true to your word. It takes only one time for an allergy recall to cause another innocent, unnecessary death and a person’s life is and always will be worth so much more than the value of any product. If you or your child has food allergies, would you trust your own companies’ products as safe? Do you feel confident in the way your facility handles the production and concerns of cross-contamination? Are you proud to say that your employees are thoroughly educated on how to avoid coming into contact with allergenic ingredients? If you answered no to any of these questions, I believe you know what your next step is.

Different manufacturers use different symbols. As a result, allergen symbols can sometimes look similar but not necessarily mean the same procedures are in place. Just because a label says “wheat-free” doesn’t mean it’s “gluten-free.” Because of this, wheat-free and gluten-free symbols can look similar. Additionally, products labeled wheat-free may still contain rye- or barley-based ingredients that are not gluten-free. When choosing gluten-free products, it is of the utmost importance to read the label carefully for the words “gluten-free”. Since that’s not always possible, a common facility or foodservice operation should use the following procedures for each allergenic food ingredient:

  • Separate food preparation zones and storage areas
  • Accurately labeled containers that are tightly sealed
  • Separate utensils for food preparation and serving
  • Clean hands, fresh gloves and clothing
  • Controlled airflow that minimizes airborne particles landing on gluten-free food
  • Thorough cleaning between runs or sessions with wet-cleaning systems
  • An allotment of at least 24 hours between regular and gluten-free food preparation to allow flour particles to settle and then be cleaned away which will decrease the chances of cross contamination between products.

As cross-contamination of gluten-free foods can cause severe reactions in those with celiac disease, it’s important to note the most common sources of cross-contact:

  • Shared use of utensils, containers, appliances or baking equipment
  • Airborne particles from wheat, rye, barley or untested oat flour
  • Incomplete cleaning of utensils, equipment or surfaces between runs
  • Contaminated gloves or clothing in gluten-free preparation areas
  • Unsafe or careless food handling by employees or food handlers

Every single company within the food industry has a choice of how it wants to be remembered. The positive news is that we, the allergic consumers (even the ones without food allergies), already know you can do better and that is why we ask so much of you. The organizations that give every ounce of their power to make change happen exist to help companies do the very same thing. Imagine the immense power that would be felt if everyone used this influence together to change – I already can.


GETTING SOCIAL:

What Are Consumers Saying?

Social


TrainingUPCOMING TRAINING:

Gluten-Free Industry, Consultant & Auditor Online Training Is Now Live!

We are pleased to announce that Gluten-Free Certification Program training for Industry, Consultants and Auditors is now available online! The objective of the course is to provide food industry professionals with the knowledge about the ANAB Accredited Gluten-Free Certification Program Standard, Policies and Procedures that is necessary for a facility to successfully complete a third party audit. The course is based on the auditing methodology documented in ISO 17065 and 17021 and the technical skills necessary to train and implement the GFCP requirements. Understanding how to manage gluten as a chemical hazard and the many hidden sources of gluten throughout the manufacturing process will prepare attendees to assist their facility in attaining gluten-free certification. To learn more or to take the training click here.


INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION:

Grocery Innovations Canada, SQF, FQMC, PLMA, FMI & WISE.

Grocery Innovations
From L to R: GFCP Customer Partners, A Tasteful Choice Company exhibiting at PLMA; Mika Varelas, Regional Manager Business Development and  GFCP Approved Training Provider Oscar Camacho at the SQF International Conference; ACG visits Ukraine Embassy and hears from Ukraine Minister of Finance about developing trade in the food industry while attending the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Private Brands D.C. Summit; Jessica Burke, Manager Compliance & Technical shows off her new Women Impacting Storebrand Excellence (WISE) membership; ACG participating as part of a round table discussion at the FQMC conference. 

INDUSTRY RESOURCE:

Accelerate new food ideas from “concept to commercialization”

FIRST

FIRSt food scientists, culinary technicians and industry experts operate in an innovative research space laboratory and test kitchen housed within the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College. Specializing in getting new food products into market and onto store shelves, FIRSt offers food and beverage businesses within the GTA industry access to technical resources, state of the art facilities, and networking opportunities, enabling these companies to grow and reach more customers.

With expertise in Product Development, Customer Insight & Testing and Training & Workshops, FIRSt allows industry to:

  • Access college expertise, technology and equipment to enhance productivity, competitiveness and innovation
  • Take products to market swiftly and cost-effectively
  • Access creative culinary faculty and student talent who get real world, practical training and learning opportunities working on research projects

For more information or to get involved with FIRSt visit http://gbcfirst.ca/


GFCP Blog

Newsletter – Summer 2017

THE GLUTEN-FREE STANDARD

A PUBLICATION OF THE ALLERGEN CONTROL GROUP INC.


In This Edition…..


ACG UPDATE:

Message from the President.

– read more

WELCOME NEW BRANDS:

Welcome Lidl US and Other Exciting New Brands!

– read more

GFCP PROGRAM UPDATE:

Attn CB’s: Changes to GFMS Accreditation Program

– read more

BEYOND CELIAC UPDATE:

New Diagnostic Tool Helps Identify Gluten Exposure

– read more

TECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Is Your Facility Audit Ready?

– read more

CCA UPDATE:

Celiac Community Celebrates with Catelli

– read more

PEOPLE MOVERS:

New Faces To Look Out For!

– read more

UPCOMING TRAINING:

GFCP Online Training Is Live!

– read more

INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION:

Australia Hosts the 2nd Food Allergen Management Symposium

– read more

CB UPDATE:

Welcome Dicentra as a GFCP Approved Certifying Body

– read more


ACG UPDATE:

Message from the President

Paul Valder, President & CEO, Allergen Control Group Inc.

Dear valued colleagues,

Now that Independence and Canada Days are over, I thought it’s time to reach out again and update all our amazing companies and brand customers, who are already “doing-the-right-thing” and supporting those consumers diagnosed with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten-sensitivity.

Over the past few months, I’ve been privileged to be invited as a guest speaker at the Allergen Bureau’s Food and Allergen Management Symposium, held in beautiful Sydney Harbor, Australia and more recently, at the Food Safety California conference, held in stunning Monterey, CA. The learnings from attending these venues continue to be hugely worthwhile and the message also continues to be clear. “Allergens and gluten are still the number one cause of global food recalls” and all countries need to work towards a consensus based approach, to effectively managing allergens, based on science. As a set of sciences based thresholds in food products for allowable safe levels of allergens and gluten has not yet been agreed upon, companies must implement rigorous preventative management tools, to effectively manage their risks. The scientists all agree that relying on product testing is like playing “Russian Roulette” with your brand and certainly not serving the best interest of those consumers depending on consistently safe, packaged foods.

For the companies and brands still thinking they are ok with that product test …. I ask you to think again! Does your business really understand the regulation and the new FSMA rules? How are the identified risks now passed on throughout the supply chain and likely to your own operation? These new rules are game changing regulations and the liability for business owners is an even more serious game, than ever before. Have you trained your employees effectively? Have you really done your due diligence beyond asking for COA’s and letters of assurance from your suppliers? Do you or your employees really know, not only how to identify your risks, but also how to assess and document them for regulators and auditors? Do you know the difference between the various allergen and gluten test-kits on the market? More importantly, do you know how to correctly use them, where to use them and for which products/ingredients/surfaces, etc.? These may all seem like easy questions to answer, but I assure you proving your due diligence every day and within your “well defined management system”, will sure make it a lot easier to prove when in front of the judge. So, “think” and educate yourself on the differences between management systems and facility process certification, versus the “smoke and mirrors” which very often loom behind the pitfalls of product certification.

Anyway, enough ranting for now and hope you will check-out the balance of our newsletter and by the way, I know Heather Nelson in our marketing department is always looking for great content contributors, so don’t hesitate to let her know you would like to send something to her for the next issue of “The Standard” heather.nelson@glutenfreecert.com.


GFCP PROGRAM UPDATE:

Attn CB’s: Changes to GFMS Accreditation Program. Deadline Jan. 1/19.

On August 7, 2016 it was announced that in response to the global interest in gluten-free foods, the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) would offer accreditation for certification bodies (CB) providing audits and certification of management systems meeting the requirements of the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP).

Any new CB seeking recognition as a CB by ACG shall become accredited by ANAB prior to being eligible for licensing recognition by ACG. ACG will recognize and license only accredited Certification Bodies such that all GFCP issued certificates will transition to accredited certificates, on or before January 1, 2019.

As an important stakeholder in the development of the Gluten-Free Management System (GFMS) accreditation program, we would like to inform you of changes to the pre-requisite requirement for GFMS Accreditation program.

During the development of the GFMS accreditation program it was agreed that it is important for the CB to have background and knowledge in the food industry as a pre-requisite for GFMS accreditation. Resulting from that discussion a requirement for the CB to either be accredited or become accredited concurrently for ISO 22000 by ANAB, was included in the ANAB Accreditation Rule for GFMS program.

ANAB is currently in process of accepting applications for the GFMS program and it appears approximately ½ of the CBs are already accredited for ISO 22000 by another IAF member AB and most others are product CBs with accreditation for a GFSI recognized certification program. Based on the analysis of current GFCP recognized CBs and certified organizations, it was decided by ACG and ANAB that the pre-requisite will be changed to require ISO 22000 accreditation by ANAB or IAF MS MLA signatory; or any GFSI recognized scheme such as BRC or SQF.

This approach will meet the intent of the CB having the knowledge and experience in the food industry but alleviate the burden of duplicate accreditations. It will also further demonstrate ANAB commitment as an IAF member, to recognize accreditations issued by other IAF members.

It is important to note that ANAB and ACG remain committed to management systems accreditation for the GFCP and all CBs regardless of how they meet the pre-requisite will be required to conform to the requirements of ISO 17021-1 and any applicable IAF requirements for management systems CB.

For a copy of the revised GFMS Accreditation Rule (AR) please contact Natalia Larrimer. The revised AR is currently in approval process with the ANAB Accreditation Council.


BEYOND CELIAC UPDATE:

New Diagnostic Tool Helps Identify Gluten Exposure
Amy Ratner, Beyond Celiac Science and Medical Writer

Gluten exposure and compliance with the gluten-free diet are tricky and touchy topics among those who have celiac disease. Currently, there is no reliable method to determine whether and how much gluten a person has consumed.

Doctors and dietitians usually rely on blood tests to help patients manage the condition. But studies have shown that while these tests are very effective at diagnosis, they don’t do a very good job in monitoring celiac disease. Patients with negative blood test results often have intestinal damage revealed through a follow up biopsy.

Patients who are working hard to follow the diet are often frustrated by how easy it is to unknowingly eat something that contains gluten. Products that appear to be gluten-free have sometimes come into contact with gluten from a contaminated source. Dining out is challenging because food prepared outside the home presents a high-risk for cross-contact with gluten when it’s stored, prepared or served.

Consequently, those with celiac disease face uncertainty and anxiety when they think they’ve been exposed to gluten. Some have symptoms but aren’t sure of the timing or source of exposure, and others have minimal symptoms but still might have been exposed. Finally, some have symptoms but don’t recognize them as being related to celiac disease.

The good news is that over-the-counter tests to detect gluten in stool or urine could be on store shelves in the United States by the end of the year.

Called GlutenDetect, they work like a pregnancy test and will offer consumers a quick and easy way to determine if they’ve been exposed to gluten. A version of the test that measures the amount of gluten providing a numerical result could also be available by the end of the year, but it would have to be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Physicians could use both the quick-read test in the office and results from the lab-analyzed test to help patients manage celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The tests will also have important implications for researchers working on experimental celiac disease treatments.

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently weighed in on what is needed for approval of any drug to treat celiac disease, the agency noted that a reliable method of monitoring gluten exposure will be key. A test that could measure gluten and meet this critical unmet need could help speed new treatments.


TECHNICAL & REGULATORY:

Is Your Facility Audit Ready?

Jessica Burke, Manager, Compliance & Technical Services, Allergen Control Group Inc.

So you have decided to go down the road of certifying your facility in the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP). The road to GFCP certification involves several steps. While you may have done your due diligence in learning about the requirements of the program, signing your agreement and booking your audit, you can never be too prepared. Too ensure you are audit ready our technical team has prepared a summary of the top GFCP audit non-conformances so you can ensure you cover these requirements.

We often see non-conformities (NC’s) around GFCP employee training and education. The most common non-conformance in this area is failure to provide evidence of temporary and/or full time employee training around gluten control.

We recognize that employee Training is a big challenge in many facilities, especially where temporary employees are utilized and turn-over is high. However, it is important to remember employees are your greatest resource. Knowledgeable employees are more likely to follow GMPs, and will make educated decisions, reducing the company’s overall risk.

Corrective actions to NC’s around GFCP employee training may include the development of an information sheet that must be reviewed and signed by temporary employees prior to their first day of work. The record might be e-mailed to the facility by the Temporary Employment Agency, or the employee could bring the hard copy with them on their first day. A training matrix is a very useful tool for tracking employees, training modules that have been covered, and training dates. This allows employees that are absent during training sessions to be easily tracked and training scheduled upon their return.

Non-conformities around gluten containing ingredient storage are also prevalent. Common examples include the absence of gluten or allergen labels on gluten containing ingredients, and the storage of gluten containing ingredients with non-gluten containing ingredients.

The best way to ensure appropriate ingredient storage is to make it as easy as possible for employees to identify gluten and non-gluten containing products.

Corrective actions might include labelling designated shelves with stickers which indicate the allergens that are permitted to be there. Colour coded allergen stickers can be very useful as they provide a visual tool for employees to quickly assess the appropriate storage location for ingredients. Labelling ingredients immediately upon receipt will aide in the identification of gluten and non-gluten containing ingredients from arrival right through to point of use.

Regardless of the non-conformity, well thought out and thorough corrective actions are the key to preventing reoccurrence and reducing risk.


CCA UPDATE:

Celiac Community Celebrates with Catelli

Melissa Secord, Executive Director, CCA

A green wave swept over the celiac community in May. May is Celiac Awareness Month in Canada and the Canadian Celiac Association was busy throughout the month increasing awareness and raising donations in support of programming and services.

Every member of CCA and every Member of Parliament in Ottawa was given a ‘celiac green’ ribbon to show their pride and support awareness.

“We tried some new innovative activities this month to generate more awareness of the disease,” says Melissa Secord, new Executive Director for CCA. “We were fortunate to partner with Catelli, a GFCP partner, on two initiatives – a Twitter party and a month long membership drive giveaway.”

On May 1, CCA hosted a fast-paced one-hour Twitter Party, kicking off the month. The Twitter Party encouraged people to follow the hashtag #AskTheCeliac to follow the conversations and to learn more about the disease by answering questions posed by CCA. Those who responded to the questions had a chance to win a number of prizes including the Grand Prize of a Catelli gluten-free pasta prize pack. CCA had its in-house expert Sue Newell along with registered dietitian, Karine Barlow, and GFCP’s Allen Rekunyk on hand to answer questions by party participants. The event was a great success with 2,700 postings, leading to 4.3 million impressions and landing on 193,000 Twitter users feeds.

In addition to the on-line party, CCA hosted two webinars with nearly 200 participants, fielding 120 questions related to learning about labelling. CCA capped off the busy month with a cross-Canada ‘Ask the Celiac’ Facebook Live Day featuring four leading dietitians and CCA’s Sue Newell. Throughout the day, our experts did live feed video messages on timely topics such as dining out and travel tips reaching over 8,000 Facebook views.

CCA thanks everyone who supported the campaign. We were thrilled to reach our fundraising goal. CCA is a national registered charity and relies on external sources of funding and donors for over 50 percent of its revenue. Funds generated are used to develop education, provide peer support counselling, research and public awareness.

“We took the opportunity to showcase our outstanding GFCP partners throughout the month whether it was on Twitter or Facebook,” says Secord. “We are looking for new ways to partner with more stakeholders to provide more educational programs for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, like we did with Catelli. We feel that it can be a win-win-win for all of us.”

We have a very supportive industry community and we look forward to developing some innovative and fun programming to reach and serve more people.


PEOPLE MOVERS:

New Faces To Look Out For!

From L to R: Mika Varelas, Regional Manager, Business Development, Allergen Control Group; Édith Lalanne, Directrice générale, Fondation québécoise de la maladie cœliaque (FQMC); Maria Rosales-Patungan, Administrative Assistant, Allergen Control Group;Melissa Secord, Executive Director, Canadian Celiac Association (CCA); Jessica Burke, Manager, Compliance & Technical Services, Allergen Control Group.

UPCOMING TRAINING:

Gluten-Free Online Training Powered by the Food Processing Human Resources Council Is Now Live!

Register for training before July 31 & receive $50 off with coupon code GFNews50

We are pleased to announce that Gluten-Free Certification Program training for Industry, Consultants and Auditors is now available online! The objective of the course is to provide food industry professionals with the knowledge about the ANAB Accredited Gluten-Free Certification Program Standard, Policies and Procedures that is necessary for a facility to successfully complete a third party audit. The course is based on the auditing methodology documented in ISO 17065 and 17021 and the technical skills necessary to train and implement the GFCP requirements. Understanding how to manage gluten as a chemical hazard and the many hidden sources of gluten throughout the manufacturing process will prepare attendees to assist their facility in attaining gluten-free certification. To learn more or to take the training click here.



INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION:

2nd Food Allergen Management Symposium
An Allergen Bureau Perspective

Sydney, Australia in late-May 2017 provided a perfect setting for bringing together some of the world’s leading food allergen experts – and over 160 delegates – as they sought to address the needs of the food allergic consumer. The 2nd Food Allergen Management Symposium (FAMS2017), including the Second Asia Pacific Food Allergen Management Workshop, was a unique forum where a diverse mix of stakeholders – representing food industry researchers, dieticians, clinicians and consumer groups – could share their latest food allergen learnings. The variety of speakers and range of topics presented over three full days successfully reflected the conference theme of “Global harmonisation of food allergy management – collaboration, innovation, science and communication”, and showed the willingness of all to be engaged for the delivery of better food allergen management outcomes.

The Allergen Bureau of Australia and New Zealand was delighted to co-organise FAMS2017, along with the ARC Training Centre for Advanced Technologies in Food Manufacture of the University of New South Wales; National Measurement Institute; and University Laval.

Allergen Bureau key findings from participation in FAMS2017 were that:

  • Pre-competitive collaboration provides the best solution to complex problems for food industry, clinicians and consumers. The Allergen Bureau’s VITAL® Program is a working example of global best practice;
  • The international view of the Reference Dose concept has shifted significantly in recent years. This was evidenced by the number of presentations which made positive mention of both, the Reference Dose concept, generally, and the VITAL Scientific Expert Panel Reference Doses (Taylor et. al. 2014; Allen et al 2014), specifically. Both local and international regulators, and clinicians (although not all), are moving towards acceptance and adoption of Reference Doses;
  • There are still significant challenges for the industry in delivering consistent allergen management. More tools are needed and are being developed;
  • There are challenges for those working with the allergic consumer (clinicians, dieticians, consumer groups) in conveying the efforts of the food industry to their own stakeholders. Ongoing sharing of viewpoints and challenges between all stakeholders is the only way forward to delivering acceptable outcomes for all stakeholders;
  • Food service, hospitals and catering are key stakeholders that still need to be fully engaged. In Australia, the National Allergen Strategy is working on this need, with significant contribution from the Allergen Bureau;
  • While not everyone is at the same point of the food allergen management journey, we are all moving in the same direction; and
  • Continuing the discussion is critical to achieving our common objective of protecting the allergic consumer in a practical and pragmatic way. Clear and consistent communication, at both a local and international level, is key.

We look forward to reviewing progress at FAMS2019.


CB UPDATE:

Welcome Dicentra as a GFCP Approved Certifying Body

The Allergen Control Group is pleased to announce the addition of dicentra as a newly trained and approved Gluten-Free Certification Program third party auditing and certification company. This partnership with dicentra will provide industry with more capabilities to bundle food safety audits together with the Gluten-Free Certification Program. To learn more please visit dicentra.com/gluten-free