Canadian Celiac Association Secures Funding That Will Enhance Access to Safe Gluten-Free Grains in Canada and US

July 5, 2016

Canadian Celiac Association Secures Funding That Will Enhance Access to Safe Gluten-Free Grains in Canada and US

The Canadian government granted CCA over $500,000 to ultimately develop a certification standard for gluten-free grains.

Big news is coming from the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP)! The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) has secured a $500,000 grant from the Canadian government to enhance access to Canadian sourced gluten-free grains. Because of this investment, CCA will work with our joint partner, the Allergen Control Group, to develop a recognized and voluntary certification standard, specifically for gluten-free grains, as these are still considered “high risk” ingredients for people with celiac disease. That’s because cross-contact is likely to occur in the growing, harvesting, transpotation, storage and manufacturing process.

Beyond Celiac is proud to call CCA a partner in keeping gluten-free foods safe for people with celiac disease. Together, Beyond Celiac and CCA endorse the GFCP, a rigorous certification program managed by the Allergen Control Group.

GFCP identified the need for specific grain standards because of the CCA and Beyond Celiac community’s concerns about the use of high risk ingredients in gluten-free products and the evolving marketplace production practices in mechanical and optical sorting practices, without established testing guidance.

Here’s an overview of what the program will provide:

  • Good manufacturing practices for oat producers and tools specifically for grain millers
  • Sampling and testing protocol for gluten-free certification both on the growing farm and after the grains leave the farm

These standards will be developed by consensus with the input from food industry stakeholders, including growers, millers, manufacturers/processors, retailers, consumers and government agencies.

What Does This Mean for People with Celiac Disease in Canada?

According to Sue Newell, Operations Manager at CCA, “The outcomes of the project will build on work previously supported by AAFC [Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada] and recommendations made by the CCA and industry partners to build improved standards, systems and tools for manufacturers to reliably deliver safe gluten-free foods…Enhancing the availability of truly gluten-free food sources, particularly grain and cereal-type foods, will greatly assist people with diseases and conditions triggered by gluten. Suppliers and manufacturers of gluten-free food will also benefit from a larger and consistent supply of certified gluten-free grains.”

Nick Whalen, Member of Parliament for St. John’s East in Newfoundland, Canada, says that the government recognizes the “growing need for high quality, affordable gluten-free products.”

He says that this investment will:

  • Increase industry awareness
  • Increase access to and selection of safe gluten-free grains for products
  • Create new market opportunities for Canadian farmers and manufacturers

What Does This Mean for People with Celiac Disease in the US?

Groundbreaking research by Tricia Thompson, Anne Lee and Thomas Grace has demonstrated that the supply of naturally gluten-free grains in the US is often compromised by contact with gluten1. By focusing on creating growing, testing and validation processes for grains, a certification process will provide US manufacturers with additional sourcing options and added confidence.

Despite its Canadian focus, US consumers will see a tangible benefit, since many products made and/or sold in the US utilize ingredients produced in Canada. Beyond Celiac will be able to use these tools and guidance documents as a way to influence US brands to improve their sourcing and validation processes by promoting these standards for adoption here.

Once these standards have been developed, Beyond Celiac will also have the opportunity to advocate with our community for the FDA to adopt equivalencies within this standard as they provide additional guidance documents for use by industry, here in the US.

Stronger Together

Beyond Celiac endorses the GFCP because we recognize that our shared interests know no borders. Together, we are more powerful in addressing the burdens of the gluten-free diet. We look forward to learning more about CCA’s progress in better understanding oats so that we can help eliminate the confusion surrounding oats in our own community. Beyond Celiac will keep you updated – keep an eye on the Celiac Disease in the News Feed for all the details as they become available.

Find out more:


Thompson T, Lee AR, Grace T. Gluten Contamination of Grains, Seeds, and Flours in the United States: A Pilot Study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:937-940