Tag Archives: Celiac Disease

New FDA rules standardize and define “gluten-free” food labeling

FoodFacts.com knows that many in our community suffer with celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten. Those members actively seek to avoid food products containing gluten and rely on both dietary restrictions and gluten-free food products to help them manage their difficulties. Whether living with Celiac Disease or sensitivity to gluten, maintaining a gluten-free diet is essential to the health and well-being of millions worldwide. And that’s why it’s so important that gluten-free food manufacturers take the utmost care in labeling their products for this consumer population.

Today we learned that the FDA has published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling. The new rule provides a standard definition that will help to protect the health of Americans with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivities.

New rule provides standard definition to protect the health of Americans with celiac disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling. This will provide a uniform standard definition to help the up to 3 million Americans who have Celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that can be effectively managed only by eating a gluten free diet. The FDA commented that the new “gluten-free” definition will help people affected by consuming gluten make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health.

This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”
The FDA recognizes that many foods currently labeled as “gluten-free” may be able to meet the new federal definition already. Food manufacturers will have a year after the rule is published to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

The term “gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains. In people with Celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of Celiac disease patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other very serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

FoodFacts.com is happy to see the FDA taking action to formalize the definition of “gluten-free”. We know this will help so many consumers make more educated food choices that comply with their dietary restrictions. We also believe that it will help manufacturers offer food products that are geared towards this important consumer group. Food labeling helps all consumers become more nutritionally aware. It’s an important tool that broadens our knowledge of food products and ultimately helps us all successfully manage our own nutritional requirements.

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm363474.htm

Celiac Disease- Why it may be on the rise.

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Foodfacts.com notices many of our followers struggle with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine after consuming gluten. We’ve come across on article that describes the possibly reasoning behind the rise of this disease. Check it out below!

(Yahoo Health) Nearly five times as many Americans have celiac disease today than in the 1950s, a recent study of 9,133 young adults at Warren Air Force Base found. Another recent report found that the rates of celiac disease have doubled every 15 years since 1974. The debilitating digestive disease is now estimated to afflict about 1 in 100 Americans. Why is exposure to gluten–a protein in found in barley, wheat, rye, and possibly oats, as well as other everyday products, including some brands of lipstick, vitamins and lip balms—making more people sick than ever before?

To find out more about celiac disease and the health effects of gluten-free diets, I talked to Christina Tennyson, MD of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City.

What is celiac disease? A debilitating digestive disorder, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, a damaging reaction occurs in the lining of the small intestines, blocking its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, even if the person is eating a seemingly healthy diet.

What are the symptoms? One reason why this autoimmune disease often goes undiagnosed for as long as 10 years is that symptoms can vary from person to person. Among the more common warning signs of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, lactose intolerance, nausea and fatigue.
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How serious is it? Because celiac disease robs the body of vital nutrients, people who have it are at increased risk for anemia and osteoporosis. People who have celiac disease and don’t eat a gluten-free diet also face a higher threat of bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma. The Air Force Base study found that during 45 years of follow-up, those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die.

What causes it? Although the cause isn’t fully understood, two genes are known to play a role, says Dr. Tennyson.
Why are rates rising? One theory is that today’s grain-based foods contain more gluten than they did in the past. Another is that kids are exposed to gluten at an earlier age, contributing to increased risk. A frequently proposed explanation is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the theory that we are too clean for our own good, resulting in weaker immune systems because we’re not exposed to as many diseases.
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Does a gluten-free diet help people lose weight? Many gluten-free foods are actually higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and therefore lead to weight gain, reports Dr. Tennyson. “One of the pitfalls is that these foods are often highly processed and high in fat. Some ingredients that are used are low in fiber, such as white rice flour, tapioca and corn starch, causing constipation.” To avoid these problems, people with celiac disease should work with a nutritionist, she advises.

Does a gluten-free diet have any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease? Possibly. In a randomized study in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew if the foods they were eating contained gluten or not, 68 percent of people who thought that a gluten-free diet improved their GI symptoms reported worsening of their symptoms when they were fed gluten-containing foods without their knowledge. However, the study only looked at 34 patients. Use of gluten-free diets for other conditions, such as autism, is highly controversial.

How trustworthy is gluten-free labeling? While products as diverse as lipstick brands to chocolate and many types of groceries carry gluten-free labeling, right now, there are no legal standards that have to be met in the US. In 27 other countries, food labeled as gluten-free food can’t have more than 20 parts of gluten per million. Nearly three years after the FDA’s deadline for a rule to define “gluten-free,” the agency is finally getting serious about tackling the dangerous risks people with celiac disease can face due to misleading labeling.

What’s the treatment? Although there’s no cure, symptoms can be effectively controlled through dietary changes to avoid all foods with gluten. However, if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t start a gluten-free diet until you’ve been tested for the condition, since eliminating gluten can cause misleading test results, cautions Dr. Tennyson. Because the disease can also spark vitamin and mineral deficiencies, patients may also need supplements. For people with severe small intestine inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe steroids.

Gluten-Free Labeling

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

FDA reopens comment period on proposed ‘gluten-free’ food labeling rule
Rule would help by creating a uniform and enforceable definition

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today reopened the comment period for its 2007 proposal on labeling foods as “gluten-free.” The agency is also making available a safety assessment of exposure to gluten for people with celiac disease (CD) and invites comment on these additional data.

One of the criteria proposed is that foods bearing the claim cannot contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten. The agency based the proposal, in part, on the available methods for gluten detection. The validated methods could not reliably detect the amount of gluten in a food when the level was less than 20 ppm. The threshold of less than 20 ppm also is similar to “gluten-free” labeling standards used by many other countries.

People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. About 1 percent of the United States population is estimated to have the disease.

“Before finalizing our gluten-free definition, we want up-to-date input from affected consumers, the food industry, and others to help assure that the label strikes the right balance,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods. “We must take into account the need to protect individuals with celiac disease from adverse health consequences while ensuring that food manufacturers can meet the needs of consumers by producing a wide variety of gluten-free foods.”

The proposed rule conforms to the standard set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 2008, which requires that foods labeled as “gluten-free” not contain more than 20 ppm gluten. This standard has been adopted in regulations by the 27 countries composing the Commission of European Communities.

The FDA encourages members of the food industry, state and local governments, consumers, and other interested parties to offer comments and suggestions about gluten-free labeling in docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 at www.regulations.gov1. The docket will officially open for comments after noon on Aug 3, 2011 and will remain open for 60 days.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Overcoming Social Isolation and dealing with Celiac Disease

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Today’s featured blog comes from Jennifer who is a foodfacts.com member who struggles from Celiac Disease….

“The phone rings…it’s my friend calling to see if I would like to come over to dinner. Little does she know that I have just been diagnosed with Celiac disease and I’m now nervous about eating at other people’s homes. I’m still learning what to eat and how to read labels. I feel my heart beat increase, and my palms start to sweat. “What is this weird feeling,” I ask myself. I feel like I’m going to panic…and all over a social invitation. “What’s wrong with me, this shouldn’t be a big deal. It never was before, I’ve always just done what I wanted.” Oh yeah, I remind myself, it’s because I don’t know if I will be able to eat if I go over. Maybe I just shouldn’t go. Maybe I should just stay home and eat the few foods I know are “safe.” But, I miss my friends. They are important to me. I really want to go. So, now what do I do?

Does this situation seem familiar to you? It does to me because I had this happen on numerous occassions, especially when newly diagnosed. Every once-in-a-while, it still happens, but I’m no longer afraid of it.

Let’s take the above scenario and layout an example conversation of what to say and do to overcome the social anxiety that has arisen.

First, take a deep breath. Maybe, take three…and try to clear your mind. Remember, a good friend will generally do their best to understand and help you out…as you would likely do the same for them.

Next, thank your friend for the invitation. Ask, if they have a moment, for you to explain your current situation. Then you can say something like this, “Remember when I told you I was having some tests done due to digestive issues.” Response, “Yes.” You, “Well, I got my results back and I found out that I have an autoimmune disease called Celiac. I had no idea what this was until my Dr. explained that it means my body cannot tolerate the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley. There are significant health consequences that can occur if I continue to eat these foods, so I am having to change my entire diet and can’t eat the same foods I always have. So, while I would love to accept your invitation, I would need to have a bit more involvement in the dinner plan, or at least need to know if you are preparing something that I can’t eat, so that I can bring something with me and still come. Can we talk about what you will be serving for dinner? ”

Friend, “Sure…” possibly with some other questions and curiosity. “We were planning on having spaghetti. This is the sauce we are using and the spices we have.”

You, “Spaghetti will be fine. I can prepare my own noodles and bring them with me. I looked up the sauce you are using, and it will be fine, however the garlic seasoning that you have is not okay. Would it be okay if I brought over a substitute garlic salt that is on my safe list?”

Friend, “Sure, that will be great.”

You, “Also, since I am still learning myself, would it be okay with you if I helped out in the kitchen that day, just to help make sure that we keep gluten containing foods seperate from gluten free foods. It will be fun to cook together and you will be helping me learn how to eat. I can also bring over a couple of gluten free items so you can taste them too. It would be fun for me to share my new experiences with you.”

Friend, “Sounds good! I look forward to having dinner together.”

You, “Great! See you on Friday!”

Of course there may be more conversation about other parts of the dinner and the disease, but you get the gist. Once you start talking about it openly, you will be amazed at how receptive most people are. Don’t expect them to know or understand unless you tell them. Also, be patient with them, as they will have to learn just as you are having to learn. But, the most important thing to remember is, if you don’t face it and get out there. it will never get easier. Practice and communication are the key to empowering yourself and others to help you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.”

To read more of Jennifer’s blogs and to learn more about Celiac Disease please visit her website:

http://foodallergytherapist.com/blog/