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 Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) to launch the first gluten-free certification program endorsed in both the US and Canada. The effort, known as the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP), represents the first program geared toward achieving gluten-free certification across national boundaries.

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

According to the associations, the GFCP will provide consumer guidance and protection by differentiating certified products. The GFCP requires annual certification audits conducted by independent ISO accredited auditing companies, which ensure that certified products meet the industry’s gluten-free food safety requirements in the United States and Canada.

Products that feature the GFCP seal include some Lay’s potato chips in Canada, Solo-Gi energy bars, Wow! Factor Desserts and the recently introduced Tim Horton’s gluten-free coconut macaroon.

In order to receive GFCP certification, food products must contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten, half of the US Food and Drug Administration’s proposed 20 p.p.m. standard. Products will be tested for gluten along the entire production chain, the groups said.

“We at the GFCP are very excited about our partnership with the NFCA” says Paul Valder, president of the GFCP “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.”

The NFCA advocates on behalf of the millions of Americans suffering from celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.

“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,” says Peter Taylor, executive director of the CCA “We embrace their participation in this important cross-border commitment."