Q: Should we eat food labeled gluten free if it also contains a statement that it is made in a facility that handles wheat?
A: Manufacturers sometimes voluntarily (they don’t have to) include statements on their product packaging such as, “manufactured in a facility that also uses wheat.” They do this in part to provide the consumer with as much information about the product as possible. However, statements such as these on products labeled gluten free can be confusing.
Keep in mind that food manufacturers are required to follow what is referred to as standards of good manufacturing practice. This means that they should have procedures in place to minimize contact between foods containing wheat and those that don’t. These procedures may include timed product turnovers, cleaning equipment between product runs, etc.
That said, some consumers may choose to purchase only those gluten-free foods that have been produced in facilities that only manufacture gluten-free food or that have production lines dedicated to gluten-free foods. This can be limiting and costly, however. Keep in mind that when the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling on the voluntary labeling of gluten-free foods takes place, foods labeled gluten free must contain less than 20 parts per million gluten even if they contain statements such as, “manufactured in a facility that also uses wheat.”