Demand for gluten-free foods expected to substantially increase as awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease continue to rise

Advancement of safe, reliable gluten-free foods at centre of report issued by Canadian Celiac Association and Allergen Control Group  

TORONTO, Jan. 24, 2017 /CNW/ - As awareness of celiac disease continues to increase, the demand for gluten-free foods is expected to dramatically rise, according to a new report released by The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) and the Allergen Control Group (ACG).  The 2016 Gluten-Free Stakeholder Update & Planning Session Report contains key findings, observations and future plans, as discussed by stakeholders from across the food value chain during a two-day session last September.

The aim of the session and subsequent report is to continue the advancement of safe and reliable gluten-free foods for the consumer marketplace as demand continues to grow. Though one per cent of Americans are thought to have celiac disease, nearly 83 per cent go undiagnosed.¹ It is expected methods of accurate diagnosis will increase and, combined with increasing awareness spurred by marketing and activist consumer groups, will create new avenues of growth in the market.   

Further observations include:

  • Gluten-free is not a fad, and consumers are serious about receiving credible assurances the food they choose to eat is safe. Reports indicate that 90 per cent of consumers don't trust labels and seek out safe gluten-free foods produced in certified facilities.
  • Challenges in the scientific methods for testing gluten-free food inputs require more research to resolve. There is significant incidence of false positives and false negatives, and it is hoped researchers will continue to seek solutions.
  • Consumers want access to clear, accurate information to make informed choices about gluten-free food products, and better confidence in the accuracy of labelling.
  • Consumers are willing to pay more for gluten-free foods but there remains strong pressure to lower cost burden to consumers, creating a challenge for producers and processors.
  • Work should proceed to harmonize gluten-free regulations across countries participating in the value chain.

The report further discusses options designed to strengthen the entire gluten-free food value chain. Stakeholders brainstormed possibilities and identified three key initiatives:

  • Establish a gluten-free information repository that disseminates educational information across the value chain and facilitates coordination across sectors, to enhance trust among suppliers, customers and consumers.
  • Continue research to improve sampling methods and understand limitations, to remain within the established boundaries of known and acceptable ranges of error.
  • Develop ways and means to increase gluten-free food safety among pulse and grain producers.

Stakeholders will participate in working groups to lead each of these initiatives and will develop and submit a proposal for funding to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for consideration.

"Updates to labeling regulations and food production techniques have significantly improved the variety of food available for someone with a medical need for gluten-free food, but there are still too many products where the gluten status is not clear," says Anne Wraggett, president of the CCA. "Manufacturers need better tools and cleaner source grains in order to produce these safe foods, and we are pleased to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Allergen Control Group to fill the knowledge gaps."

The 2016 Gluten-Free Stakeholder Update & Planning Session was led and facilitated by the CCA, ACG and Agri-Food Canada. Key stakeholders included consumers, food service and retailers, processors, laboratories, test kit manufacturers, auditors, grain and pulse producers, and government regulatory bodies. For a full copy of the final report, please visit: http://gfstakeholdersession.com/#/

"Since our first Stakeholder Session back in 2010, we have all worked hard to ensure the value of the gluten-free food market is recognized through proactive initiatives, such as the establishment of the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP)," says Paul Valder, president and CEO at ACG. "The formation of the GFCP has resulted in strict adherence to food management programs by participants, and significantly built consumer trust. But this is only the beginning. By continuing to share challenges, lessons learned and successes, ACG and our fellow stakeholders will continue to strengthen and expand safe, trustworthy options for all within the value chain."

About the Canadian Celiac Association
The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) is the national voice for people who are adversely affected by gluten, and is dedicated to improving diagnosis and quality of life. Based in Mississauga, Ontario with 28 Chapters across the country, its mission includes advocacy, education, research and community support. http://www.celiac.ca

About the Allergen Control Group Inc.
The Allergen Control Group Inc. (ACG) is a privately held corporation which owns and operates the Gluten-Free Certification Program on a global basis and is endorsed exclusively by the CCA in Canada and Beyond Celiac in the USA. http://www.glutenfreecert.com

¹ Beyond Celiac, Celiac Disease: Fast Facts

SOURCE Allergen Control Group Inc.

For further information: Pedro Cabezuelo, StrategicAmpersand Inc., pedro@stratamp.com, (416) 961-5595

RELATED LINKS
www.glutenfreecertification.ca

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Allergen Control Group Inc.

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Canadian Celiac Association (CCA)

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