Not necessarily. But don’t get discouraged! A gluten parts per million threshold is in place. According to the proposed Food and Drug Administration’s definition of gluten-free, a product cannot be labeled gluten-free unless its gluten ppm threshold is 20 or less. So, mathematically speaking, if a product tests at 20 ppm it’s obviously not 100 percent gluten-free, but is gluten-free enough to be safe. The ppm is so negligible that anything at or below 20 will, in most cases, not adversely affect even the most sensitive person. Therefore, it’s safe.
For example, distilled vodka made from grain alcohol is considered gluten-free if its ppm rating is 20 or below. While a prohibited grain was used to make the vodka, the distillation process renders the gluten harmless. The scenario applies to distilled vinegar as well. While it is derived from a gluten-based grain, the product becomes gluten-free through distillation and is considered safe.
Gluten-free products are closest to being 100 percent gluten-free when they are made in a 100 percent gluten-free manufacturing environment and when all of the ingredients used are 100 percent gluten-free. Without gluten particle dust in the air, a product’s ppm will be as low as it can get from a manufacturing environment perspective.
You will come to recognize the tried and true gluten-free brands that are highly respected in the industry. And chances are very slim that a company will misbrand its product as gluten-free to capitalize on the gluten-free market demand. The possible legal repercussions are not worth the risk. But, as always, it’s important to be aware of a company’s reputation and if in doubt, call to inquire about their manufacturing practices, ppm testing procedures, and results.