Thursday, August 08, 2013 7:57 PM
FDA Clarifies "Gluten Free"
The rule has been in the works since 2004, when Congress directed FDA to set rules for labeling gluten-free foods.
Celiac Disease, a condition of intolerance to gluten present in grains such as wheat, barley and rye, is four times more common than 50 years ago. So FDA's recently published regulation that for the first time defines the content of gluten allowed in a food that's labeled "gluten-free" should be welcome news for those with this condition.
The agency has set a limit of 20 parts per million for the amount of gluten that may be present in foods marketed as gluten-free. The rule also extends to foods labeled “free of gluten,” “without gluten” or “no gluten.”
The rule has been in the works since 2004, when Congress directed the FDA to set rules for labeling gluten-free foods. Today, the market for such gluten-free foods is estimated at $4 billion. .
The regulation states that food labeled "gluten free" should in fact be gluten free, though it allows for a limit of residual gluten that may be left in a processed food designed to remove gluten from gluten-containing grains. The actual limit on gluten in labeled products, 20 parts per million, won't likely mean much to the average consumer. The main benefit is in consumer confidence. Now, consumers should be reassured that "gluten-free" foods, like organic foods, are what they claim to be.
Those with celiac disease suffer from digestive problems because consuming gluten (found in naturally in wheat, rye, barley and other grains) triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. Others have adopted gluten-free diets for various goals, including losing weight and increasing energy.