The Codex Alimentarius Commission approved new standards for gluten free foods when they met in Geneva earlier this month. The new benchmark states that foods labeled gluten-free may not contain wheat, rye, oats or barley and the gluten level may not exceed 20 ppm (parts per million). The previous Codex standard was 200 ppm.
The new standard does allow one or more ingredients from wheat, rye, barley or oats if it has been specially processed to remove the gluten and the gluten level doesn't exceed 20 ppm. Foods that have been processed to reduce gluten content to a level between 20 ppm - 100 ppm cannot be labeled gluten free but may be called low gluten or reduced gluten. Individual countries will determine marketing of these products at the national level and individual countries will also determine whether pure, uncontaminated oats are allowed at the national level.
Naturally gluten-free foods cannot be designated by a term like "special dietary" but may bear a statement that "this food is by its nature gluten-free."
The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses sets the standard of gluten content allowed in food products considered "gluten-free" for international trade. Countries that want to trade at the international level must adhere to Codex standards for foods that they export.