Gluten-Free Certification Program forms alliance with U.S. based NFCA

gI_75819_NFCA certification trademarkvia PRWeb

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), a non-profit organization serving individuals with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders, has formed an alliance with the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP), developed by Canadian Celiac Association (CCA), to launch the first gluten-free certification program endorsed by leading celiac disease organizations in North America.

“The GFCP alliance means consumers with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity will have more choices, greater assurance and an easier way to identify gluten-free products that are trusted and safe,” said Alice Bast, President of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. “The GFCP has already achieved great success in Canada, and we are eager to expand its benefits to our community here in the US.”

The GFCP will provide consumer guidance and protection by differentiating certified products from the increasing clutter of gluten-free claims in the marketplace. The GFCP requires annual certification audits conducted by independent ISO accredited auditing companies, which ensure that certified products meet the industry’s most stringent gluten-free food safety requirements in the US and Canada. This third party relationship is a critical and defining part of the GFCP, as it eliminates any conflict of interest between the manufacturer’s relationship with the program, its certifying bodies and/or the NFCA.

Gluten-free consumers can now shop with confidence by looking for the trusted NFCA certification trademark on product packages.

“We at the GFCP are very excited about our partnership with the NFCA. By combining the endorsement of the NFCA and their strong industry relationships, together with the technical strengths of our program, I am confident we will be able to deliver a comprehensive value proposition that is yet to be seen in the US marketplace,” said Paul Valder, President of the Gluten-Free Certification Program.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 133 Americans. Eighty-three percent of people with celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The disease can cause debilitating symptoms and, if left untreated, lead to life-threatening health conditions. There is no cure, but celiac disease can be treated with a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet.

NFCA advocates on behalf of the millions of Americans suffering from celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders who are frustrated by the uncertainty of identifying gluten-free products that are essential to their well-being.

“NFCA shares the CCA’s mission to protect consumers with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity and will lend a strong voice to the call for safety and accountability as demonstrated by GFCP standards,” said Peter Taylor, Executive Director of the Canadian Celiac Association. “We embrace their participation in this important cross-border commitment.”

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NFCA pushes for Celiac awareness at U.S. colleges

News Release

Student with booksStudents choose their college or university based on a number of factors. Their ability to find a meal on campus shouldn’t be one of them.

According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), an estimated 1 in 141 Americans is affected by celiac disease. These individuals require a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet – including when they’re at college.

“Students are coming home on break to find they have elevated blood levels or have lost significant weight because they’re not getting the gluten-free nutrition they need,” explains Alice Bast , founder and president of NFCA. “It’s a serious threat to their health, and it’s time the schools paid attention.”

A recent settlement involving Lesley University revealed just how challenging it can be for college students with celiac disease and food allergies to find food that meets their dietary needs. In releasing the settlement, the U.S. Department of Justice stated that food allergies may constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and entered into a settlement agreement with the University to require that all meal plans at the University are inclusive of students with celiac disease and food allergies. The University also agreed to pay a fine of $50,000.

According to US Foods, one of America’s largest food companies and a leading distributor, demand for gluten-free foods has increased by 200 percent since 2009. The NFCA has been working with college and university dining services nationwide to help meet that demand and help the staff provide safe gluten-free options for students with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Through NFCA’s GREAT Schools, Colleges and Camps, managers and staff learn how to identify gluten-free ingredients, avoid cross-contamination and communicate effectively with students and faculty who make gluten-free requests.

“Gluten exposure is detrimental for students with celiac disease because it causes malabsorption,” explains Dr. Ritu Verma , section chief of Gastroenterology for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “When gluten-free students don’t get the nutrition they need, it can impact their studies, decreasing their ability to focus and leading to overall poor health. In extreme cases, the students could wind up in the hospital. We have seen repeated instances where gluten exposures in dining halls have impacted our patients’ ability to function effectively in school. This is especially important at a time when many students are taking responsibility for their own health for the very first time.”

Pam Edwards , assistant director of dining services at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, continues this sentiment. “All students should have food available to them to meet their nutritional needs,” Edwards said. “After undergoing the GREAT Schools training program through NFCA, we have a better understanding of the importance of offering gluten-free menu items to our students with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, as well as the proper ways to prepare these items. By providing gluten-free menu items to these students, we can have a positive impact on their health and their total academic experience.”

Lesley University students aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the settlement. NFCA recommends that all colleges and universities consider adopting gluten-free and allergen-free accommodations similar to those outlined in the agreement. Bast continues, “All students deserve to eat without fear or consequence. It’s our goal to provide that.”