New EU regulations on products labelled as gluten-free, brought into force, mean bakeries are now subject to far tighter controls.

As of 1 January, gluten-free products, which are produced for people with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, must contain less than 20 parts of gluten per million (ppm), in order to be labelled as ’gluten-free’ 10 times less than the previous limit of 200ppm. The legislation also states businesses will be allowed to label products as ’very low gluten’ if they contain less than 100ppm.

Walkers has removed the label ’suitable for coeliacs’ from several of its flavours of crisps in response to the new legislation, because its gluten levels don’t fall within the new legal limits.

Gluten-free bakery Livwell said the legislation had not affected its business because, like many other gluten-free bakers, its products already contained less gluten than the new limits.

Likewise, the founder of gluten-free brand Genius, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, said its products had always contained less than 10ppm of gluten because it had never used products containing wheat. She added that the company was planning to double its product range in 2012, following strong sales.

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, said the new regulations were a positive move. "It provides real reassurance to consumers that, when manufacturers put a gluten-free label on their products, it really does mean something, because it is backed up by law."

Data from Mintel shows the free-from market encompassing nut, dairy, wheat and gluten-free is worth an estimated £195m in annual sales. The market is growing faster than nearly any other food category and it calculates annual sales will hit £519m by 2016. Gluten-free represents the largest section. Mintel’s free-from market data shows that free-from annual sales have grown 300% in the last decade. The gluten-free catering market is estimated to be worth £100m up 15.7% year on year.