New requirements for the content of products labelled as ’gluten-free’ could mean extra work for bakeries, following the announcement of new EU regulations. The new rules, which will apply to foodstuffs specifically produced for people intolerant to gluten, will have to 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. The new regulations will not come into effect until 1 January 2012, but bakeries can implement them immediately.

Barbara Hirst, technical manager of consultancy Reading Scientific Services’ DNA and Protein laboratories, said it was too early to tell what the full impact of this change in legislation would be. She said the change from one limit of 200ppm to two different limits could potentially cause extra work for bakeries in terms of testing the amount of gluten in its products. "Potentially you’ll have products labelled gluten-free, but they will also have to display the statement, ’contains wheat’," she noted.

In terms of extra costs involved for packaging, smaller bakeries will be largely unaffected, as most of their products are sold unpackaged. Anthony Kindred, owner of Kindred Bakery in Herne Hill, London, said it was most likely to affect businesses that claim to make products containing low levels of gluten, rather than those totally gluten-free.