About year ago I did a post called All Natural and Gluten-Free decrying how the statement “gluten-free” meant very little because there was no standard for what could and could not be called gluten-free. Some things contain no gluten ingredients but are packaged on the same assembly lines as products containing barley (wheat must be disclosed on packaging, barley and gluten do not have the same requirement). Oats do not naturally contain gluten but can be presumed to be cross contaminated, and some scientists studied supposedly gluten-free flours only to find that some of them were far over the 20 ppm limit.
However, that is finally going to change. The FDA has set a standard of 20 ppm as gluten-free. Once it goes into effect it can be enforced and questionable products can be seized for claiming to be gluten-free if they do not pass the test.
Historically the only assurance we really had was the GF symbol which meant that a group of celiacs had ensured batch testing and certified that the product was indeed gluten free. That is why this is a big step forward for those of us who need to eat gluten-free.
If you would like to read the original article in the New York Times you can find it here