The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is the first program established to provide customers and manufacturers confidence in knowing that products labeled with the GFCO certification mark meet strict standards for gluten-free foods.
The GFCO was founded in 2005, when lack of government regulations gave consumers little assurance that the food products they were buying were gluten-free. As a third-party audit program under the guidance of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG), the GFCO helps gluten-intolerant customers quickly identify that certified food companies’ products are safe.
In order to be certified, companies must undergo a four-step process. First, a company completes an application of all the products they want considered for certification. Upon review, a quote is determined for expenses, based on the risk assessment for ingredients, along with a number of other factors. Next, a GFCO Auditor will observe the company and depending on observation, a verified contract is prepared and a certificate is sent.
The GFCO goes beyond just creating awareness of gluten-free products. Upon certification, its staff forms a working relationship with the food companies it inspects by creating customized packages that include marketing assistance and additional consulting.
The GFCO takes away the worry for both food companies and customers by holding products to high inspection standards, based on scientific research. Its gluten-free logo helps validate a company’s products, while putting the customer’s mind at ease by reducing the need for the constant checking of food labels.
The GFCO provides science-based standards for food companies that produce gluten-free products. Its main focus is on the certification of products for human consumption, including companies that manufacture consumer food items or industrial ingredients, are involved in private labeling, food service or any other aspect of food production and distribution. Some of GFCO’s primary responsibilities include:
1. Monitor food companies’ gluten-free products to ensure they are safe for gluten intolerant consumers.
2. Recognize and support food manufacturers that provide safe, gluten-free products.
3. Educate and train the food industry on gluten-free related issues.
As of March 2011, fewer than 6,000 products were certified by the GFCO. Today, the GFCO has certified more than 7,419 products from 266 food companies, and these numbers are increasing daily. It is not only recognized in the United States, but internationally. The program has expanded its certification services to 11 countries including the United States, Canada, Japan, Colombia, Switzerland, Korea, Italy, Thailand, China, Israel and, most recently, Peru.
Key Market Areas
GFCO works with a broad range of suppliers and manufacturers, including:
• Baking companies
• Ready-made meals
• Snack foods
• Personal care
Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG)
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2011