Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
The cake debuted as part of an effort to promote the Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit in Washington DC. The event included a representative of the FDA and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who sponsored the original Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, as well as the world’s largest gluten-free cake, all nine layers of it.
In addition to raising general awareness of gluten-free issues, the giant cake was a reaction to failure on the part of the FDA to issue labeling standard for gluten-free foods and products.
Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act the FDA was charged with creating standards for gluten-free labeling. FDA officials were ordered to make their recommendations to Congress in 2008. As of 2011, the FDA had made no recommendations on gluten-free labeling standards.
Labeling is important, Forberger says, because buying gluten-free food is, for many people "a medical necessity, and until there’s a cure for celiac disease, eating foods free of gluten is the only treatment."
Forberger has what is diagnosed as “an extreme gluten intolerance,” where ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, triggers chronic pancreatitis so severe that gluten reactions have hospitalized Forberger more than a dozen times.
Even though there are many good, reliable manufacturers, "providing delicious gluten-free options, the industry is a self-regulating one . . . anyone can slap the words ‘gluten-free’ on a product and charge a premium, " he says.
Prompted in part by this perceived failure by the FDA, Forberger teamed with author and celiac expert Jules Shepard to form 1in133, a nonprofit that aims to push the FDA to comply with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. The group’s name comes from the statistic from the Celiac Disease Foundation that 1 in every 133 people has the disease. Together, they crafted the idea that became the world's largest gluten-free cake.
To promote their effort, Forberger and Shepard teamed with the American Celiac Disease Alliance to send 5,000 letters to the FDA calling for prompt establishment of standardized gluten-free labeling. They also initiated an online petition with the same message that has gathered more than 10,000 supporters.
Gluten Free Food Labeling Summitt in Washington DC. The event included a representative of the FDA and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who sponsored the original Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, as well as the world’s largest gluten-free cake, all nine layers of it.
The summit and petition campaign appear to have worked. In August, the FDA announced that it would again invite public comments on gluten-free labeling with the goal of creating a uniform and enforceable definition by summer or fall of 2012.