How can something be gluten free “per serving”?



Doesn’t that mean there *is* gluten somewhere in there, and wouldn’t that mean it isn’t actually gluten free?

I’m eating sour gummy worms. There are 7 servings in the container averaging out to about 9 gummies per serving. Before anyone asks, no, I’m not gluten free/intolerant.

In: Other

Th term “gluten free” does not mean, “not a single molecule of gluten exists in this item”. What it means instead is “the concentration of gluten is less than 20 ppm”, according to the [FDA]( ).

Gluten is present only in certain grains (wheat, rye, buckwheat, etc), so any food that doesn’t contain those is inherently gluten free… including gummy worms.

If a food *does* contain those grains, it’s not gluten free. It’s one or the other.

No clue why they would say “per serving,” possibly just poor label design.

Side note: “glutinous rice” contains no gluten 🤷‍♂️

The government has a minimum level of gluten that is allowed to be in a product for it to be declared gluten free. It’s very hard to have absolutely no gluten whatsoever, so “gluten free” actually means “So little gluten that you’ll be fine even if you’ve got coeliac disease.” At some point, the amount of gluten in a product has to be rounded – it might be rounded up, or it might be rounded down. When a thing is gluten free per serving, that means that after rounding down, the amount of gluten in a serving is the allowable amount, but for the entire packet, rounding means that the gluten amount is over the allowed amount.

For example, lets say that your product is allowed to have 0.7 units of gluten per 10 grams in it and still be called “gluten free”. Your serving size is 10 grams, and you have 5 servings in a packet (the whole packet being 50 grams). In a single serving, you actually have 0.74 units of gluten, but because you’re rounding to the nearest 0.1 unit, that *looks* like 0.7 units of gluten – sufficiently little gluten that you’re legally allowed to call it gluten free. However, in 50 grams of your product, there’s 3.7 units of gluten. This is already rounded to the nearest 0.1, but the allowable limit for gluten in 50 grams is 3.5 units – so now because you can’t round it down, you’re over the allowable limit. You still want to market as gluten free, so you say gluten free *per serving* because your serving size is below the legal limit after rounding even though you’re *technically* over the limit in terms of actual quantity of gluten.