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  • Carissa Bell
    Carissa Bell

    Cliff Notes Version of the FDA'S Gluten Free Food Labeling Act Webinar

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 10/24/2013 - I recently attended the FDA'S Gluten-Free Food Labeling Act seminar and I wanted to share with you what I learned.  

    Photo: CC-- SumOfUsThe FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule is not mandatory, meaning manufacturers are not required to call out “gluten” in food products.  While the regulation is voluntary, what’s important to know is that any product that is labeled gluten-free must meet certain FDA requirements.  To simplify, a packaged food product regulated by the FDA that is labeled gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten, but it must also comply with additional criteria beyond this specific threshold.  20 ppm is not  based on serving size either, which is key to remember. 

    The use of a “gluten-free” label does not replace the need to comply with the mandatory allergen labeling that requires wheat and the other top allergens to be listed.  As much as most of us would like, there is currently no way to guarantee “zero gluten.” Current validated testing methods cannot test to that level.  Food products that are labeled “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” must also comply with the FDA’s gluten-free ruling. The claims “made no with no gluten-containing ingredients” and “not made with gluten-containing ingredients” do not have to comply with the ruling. 

    The regulation will allow inherently gluten-free foods, such as a bag of raw carrots or bottle water, to be labeled gluten-free. Here’s an example: While there can still be the case where one package of fresh broccoli may be labeled gluten-free while another may not be, both are still safe for people with celiac disease because broccoli in its natural state is gluten-free.  Oats are not considered a gluten-containing grain, but they may come into contact with wheat by cross contamination.  You should only eat flours that are labeled gluten-free.  The FDA does not have the authority to regulate gluten-free claims. 

    Restaurants serving gluten-free food must do everything in their power to keep food gluten-free if they are making this claim.  Foods labeled by the USDA are not covered by the FDA labeling act.  Also, beverages regulated by TTB are not covered by the FDA'S labeling either.  The most startling thing that I learned is that it is not unusual for a manufacturer to use barley and still label the product gluten-free.  The bottom line is that even if the product is labeled gluten-free, read every ingredient and read it twice just to make sure you're safe!


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    Since the 20ppm is not based on serving size does this mean the amount in the package is less than 20ppm if there is more than one serving in a package?

    Also won't manufacturers who label their product gluten free have to make sure there is no barley in their product? Or is this just something that happens now that will be addressed by the new rules?

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    Doesn't sound like the new FDA gluten-free ruling will have much benefit for those of us with celiac. Couldn't trust gluten-free claims before, and there really isn't a reason to trust them any more in the future. It is not a bit surprising that the ruling won't be all that helpful, for us. Good for industry, though.

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    Thank you for the information. Looks like it's still up to us to guard our food choices. Our family looks at every label to cover my dietary problems. I watch each mouthful of food I eat. Again, thank you.

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    Since the 20ppm is not based on serving size does this mean the amount in the package is less than 20ppm if there is more than one serving in a package?

    Also won't manufacturers who label their product gluten free have to make sure there is no barley in their product? Or is this just something that happens now that will be addressed by the new rules?

    I think you are incorrectly interpreting this concept--manufacturers don't add gluten up to 20ppm...their products must test below this, which is considered a safe level for celiacs.

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    Doesn't sound like the new FDA gluten-free ruling will have much benefit for those of us with celiac. Couldn't trust gluten-free claims before, and there really isn't a reason to trust them any more in the future. It is not a bit surprising that the ruling won't be all that helpful, for us. Good for industry, though.

    Donnie,

    You are exactly right, couldn't trust them before and I trust them less now. Which is why I am trying to go back to my gluten free roots and eat only foods that are naturally gluten free and doesn't come out of a box.

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    Thank you for the clarifying information! I had an idea this was the case with labeling but now I know for sure.

    Allison,

    you are very welcome!! As soon as I learned about this webinar I knew I had to attend so that I could share the information with all of you! There is a lot of information and much of it was confusing, so I am happy to de-confuse you as much as possible.

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    Thank you for the information. Looks like it's still up to us to guard our food choices. Our family looks at every label to cover my dietary problems. I watch each mouthful of food I eat. Again, thank you.

    Robert,

    You are quite welcome. I too read every single label and guard every bite I ingest, you have to.

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  • About Me

    My name is Carissa and I was diagnosed with celiac disease in early 2009. Being diagnosed has changed my life for the better. I am grateful everyday to be gluten-free. My doctor advised I see a nutritionist and by the time I saw her, which was 3 weeks after being diagnosed I already knew more than she did about celiac disease. I also had an interest in nutrition but after realizing that my nutritionist knew very little about celiac disease I decided to study nutrition, which is what I am doing now. I spend a lot of time studying anything related to gluten free, it is my passion in life. Since being diagnosed I have helped many people around me realize how harmful modernized wheat is to our bodies and many of those people I have educated have given up wheat and feel great and have me to thank.

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