This is very welcome news for celiacs in Europe. According to the European Union’s Food Standards Agency (FSA):

Under the new European Union regulations, only foods that contain less than 20 parts of gluten in a million will be allowed to use the term ‘gluten-free’ on their packaging. Recent evidence has shown that this extremely low level offers better protection for people with an intolerance to gluten. Previously, a food labelled ‘gluten free’ could have contained up to ten times more than this.

In addition, some foods made using cereals that have been specially processed to remove most of the gluten, but which contain less than 100 parts of gluten in a million, will be able to make the claim ‘very low gluten’ on the packaging. These include substitutes of certain staple foods such as bread.

These new guidelines do not go into effect until January 1st, 2012. To read the FSA’s web pages on coeliac disease, go here and here.