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.