The nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) is enjoying a strong start to 2021 building on a year of notable accomplishments in 2020 that continue to position the organization as a prime, trusted partner to the gluten-free community, and the businesses that support it.
Through 2020, GIG’s initiatives included the following:
- A rebrand of the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) mark: In March, GFCO officially released its rebranded gluten-free certification mark. A symbol of trust for gluten-free consumers, the new mark is designed to be unique among food certification labels, making it easy for consumers to spot GFCO-certified products. It also meets international trademark standards which helps expand and protect GFCO-certified products globally. Additionally, GFCO launched its new website, which features a product directory with more than 60,000 certified products.
- The certification of 1,026 products from 107 brands, including well-known brands like Oreo cookies (officially released in 2021) and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, among others. The GFCO auditing process continued during the pandemic, as the certification is an essential service for the safety of people who must eat gluten-free. A complete list of certified products can be found here.
- The Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS) was rebranded as Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot: GFFS validates restaurants and other foodservice businesses like universities, hospitals and senior living centers that safely serve gluten-free food. Like GFCO, GFFS also unveiled a rebranded logo and website to help consumers identify these Validated Safe Spots.
- GIG honored frontline heroes with gluten intolerance: In May, GIG partnered with gluten-free brands for the Giving Back to Our Gluten-Free Heroes campaign. During the month, GIG accepted nominations from the friends and families of frontline workers who must eat gluten-free. These workers received care packages with quality, gluten-free GFCO-certified or GFFS-validated foods.
- The Mayo Clinic was designated a Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot by GFFS. Food establishments at Mayo’s large Rochester, Minnesota campus now offer validated gluten-free meals. The GFFS team audited Mayo’s dedicated gluten-free kitchen and met with its staff to ensure it meets high standards for avoiding cross-contact with gluten-containing foods. GFFS also validated seven additional food establishments during 2020.
Beyond these successful initiatives, GIG continued to be a voice for the gluten-free community. In May, GIG signed a letter—joining other well-respected celiac and gluten-free organizations—to oppose the FDA’s temporary label requirement changes, which is allowing food manufacturers to make minor changes in packaged food ingredients without updating ingredient lists to reflect these changes. GIG has also showed support for policies promoting more rigorous standards for gluten-free labeling, such as the recent FDA rule change on the labeling of fermented, hydrolyzed or distilled foods. In addition, GIG remains focused on the research of gluten contents in different products, as trace amounts can cause health problems for those with gluten intolerance. Laura K. Allred, Ph.D., regulatory manager for GIG, published a comprehensive study that analyzed gluten in dried yeast and yeast-containing products.
“The initiatives achieved in 2020 through our outreach and food safety programs show our team’s commitment not only to fulfill our mission to make life easier for everyone living gluten-free, but to expand it in every way possible,” said Cynthia Kupper, CEO for Gluten Intolerance Group.
In 2021, GIG plans to continue to expand on its mission to represent and meet the needs of the gluten-free community by building strong partnerships with food manufacturers and foodservice establishments worldwide, as well as unveiling an exciting new program to address food insecurity in the gluten-free community.