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 a strict set of standards for gluten-free foods.
GFCO was founded in 2005, when lack of government regulations gave consumers little assurance the food products they were buying were gluten free. As a third-party certification program under the guidance of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG), GFCO helps gluten-intolerant customers quickly identify that certified food companies’ products are safe to consume and that these products meet the set standard of 10 ppm or less of gluten.
To be certified, companies must undergo a four-step process. First, a company completes an application for all the products it wants 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 Inspector will visit the facility to review the manufacturing processes and procedures in place. Depending on the observations during the inspection, a verified contract is prepared, outlining the standards that must be maintained and a certificate is sent.
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 scientific and quality control consulting.
GFCO takes away the worry for both food manufacturers and consumers by holding products to high inspection standards, based on scientific validation. 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.
Key Market Areas
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, or 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.
GFCO certifies more than 21,000 products from 650 food companies, and these numbers are increasing daily. It is not only well recognized in the United States, but also internationally. The program has expanded its certification services to 24 countries including the United States, Canada, Japan, Colombia, Switzerland, Korea, Italy, Thailand, China, Israel, Peru, Columbia, Greece and recently added Australia.
Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG)
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Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2014