Digging Deeper into Gluten-Free and Non-GMO Labeling

We all know that gluten-free has been trending for a while, in fact, in 2014 it was the most prevalent and fastest-growing health claim used by chains in Technomic’s Top 500. Due to the growing demand for gluten-free food options, many restaurants now offer separate gluten-free menus. In the retail space, however, brands are capitalizing on the trend in a few different ways.

Some brands are simply reformulating gluten-free versions of products like pasta. While other brands are adding the gluten-free label to products that are naturally gluten-free, such as rice noodles and coffee. Is this an attempt to capitalize on the trend with creative marketing or an attempt to educate consumers about which products do or do not contain gluten?

Pink Salt

Source: reddit.com

The term non-GMO is going through a similar transition. A recent addition to the Non-GMO Project Verified family of products is a food with no genes to be modified in the first place: salt. And there is no guarantee that products with a Non-GMO Project Verified seal are completely GMO-free, as the Non-GMO Project’s website states:

“Unfortunately, ‘GMO free’ and similar claims are not legally or scientifically defensible due to limitations of testing methodology. In addition, the risk of contamination to seeds, crops, ingredients and products is too high to reliably claim that a product is ‘GMO free.’”
Source: nongmoproject.org

One can speculate on whether GMO- and Gluten-free labels are intended to educate or persuade. But at the heart of the issue is consumer demand for healthy and more natural foods, a trend that won’t be slowing down anytime soon.


Emily Hallock

Emily Hallock is a Senior Research Analyst at Technomic. She works heavily with operators, distributors, and manufacturers performing qualitative research and analysis. In addition, Emily is also the main point of contact for Technomic’s Foodservice Essentials online learning program. A food anthropologist by schooling, Emily enjoys the intersection of food, people, and research her job offers every day.

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