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

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. 

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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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8 Responses:

 
Sue
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
24 Oct 2013 8:57:02 PM PDT
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?

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
04 Nov 2013 5:04:33 PM PDT
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.

 
Donnie
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said this on
28 Oct 2013 12:02:42 PM PDT
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.

 
carissa bell
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said this on
20 Nov 2013 4:09:14 PM PDT
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.

 
Allison
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said this on
28 Oct 2013 12:41:11 PM PDT
Thank you for the clarifying information! I had an idea this was the case with labeling but now I know for sure.

 
carissa bell
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said this on
20 Nov 2013 4:11:04 PM PDT
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.

 
Robert M.

said this on
30 Oct 2013 1:42:46 AM PDT
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.

 
carissa bell
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said this on
20 Nov 2013 4:12:23 PM PDT
Robert,
You are quite welcome. I too read every single label and guard every bite I ingest, you have to.




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Hello I was diagnosed Dec 15 of last year and went totally gluten-free the next day. I actually got worse before I got better - it's a steep learning curve - but now, 4 1/2 months later I'm finally seeing improvement. Hang in there.

Called my GI doctor today to make sure he is going to look at my small intestine and do biopsy for Celiac for my EGD and he is. Thanks for the tip everyone about have to start eating gluten again. The office told me to break my gluten free diet and start eating gluten everyday until my EGD. Here's to being miserable again for a few weeks ???

I can completely relate! The horrible mental effects that I have been living with for years is the absolute worst side effect of eating gluten, HANDS DOWN. Worse than the endless tummy aches, worse than the constant diarrhea, worse than the week long migraines, worse than the daily fatigue and body pain.... I honestly though there was something seriously wrong with me and hated my life because of how I felt mentally. I always felt like I was drowning, not in control of my thoughts, trapped in some unexplained misery. My head was always so cloudy, and I was mad because I always felt so slow and stupid. I would feel so lethargic and sad and empty while at the same time be raging inside, wanting to rip out of my own skin. I was mean, terrible, would snap at the people closest to me for no good reason and just felt like I hated everyone and everything. Think of how crappy you feel when you have a terrible cold and flu - I felt that crappy, but mentally. Some days were really bad, some were mild. I always thought it was because I was getting a migraine, or because I had a migraine, or because I had just overcome a migraine, because I didn't sleep well, because....always a random reason to justify why we have all these weird unrelated symptoms before we get diagnosed. I'm happy to say that I have been gluten-free for about 2 months now and though I am not symptom free, the first thing that improved was my mood. I no longer feel foggy and miserable. For the first time in years, my head is clear, I can actually think, and I feel positive and like I am in control of what's going on in my head. I don't hate the world. I don't spend every day bawled up on the corner of the couch depressed and angry. The release of these horrible symptoms is enough to never make me want to cheat, no matter what I have to miss out on. So insane how a little minuscule amount of a stupid protein can wreck such havoc.

I wanted to collect some of the info on NCGI in one place so that visitors who test negative but may still have an issue with gluten can be directed there. I'll add to this post as I find new links, but feel free to add or contribute anything you think may be of use! Matt --- Useful links: An overview from Alessio Fasano, one of the world's leading researchers on celiac and gluten sensitivity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvfTV57iPUY Umberto Volta, another leading researcher in the field gives some of the latest findings about NCGI: Presentation slides from Dr Volta's visit to Coeliac UK - NCGS about halfway through A scholarly overview from celiac disease magazine: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Knut_Lundin/publication/232528784_Non-celiac_Gluten_Sensitivity/links/09e415098bbe37c05b000000.pdf A good overview from a sceptical but fair perspective: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-balanced-look-at-gluten-sensitivity/ Another overview: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-2/ University of Chicago's excellent celiac site's take: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/category/faq-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/ A compelling account in the British Medical Journal from an NCGI patient: http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7982 Here's some positive news about a potential new test: http://www.medicaldaily.com/non-celiac-gluten-insensitivity-blood-test-392850 NCGI in children: NCGI and auto immune study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026392 Also consider: Fodmaps: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/dns/projects/fodmaps/faq.aspx This Monash study: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-truth-behind-non-celiac-gluten.html suggested some who think they're reacting to gluten should actually be reducing fodmaps Sibo: http://www.webmd.boots.com/digestive-disorders/small-intestinal-bacteria-sibo

I was just diagnosed in March and I totally feel you. I'm having a hard enough time with determining which lip glosses are safe, let alone all my face products etc. I feel like this 'grey area' is the biggest annoyance with Celiac. So many foods/cosmetics I thought were safe after reading the ingredient list are actually not safe at all! One website says it's safe, one says its not. All these unfamiliar ingredients and even after googling term after term still so many grey areas!! I'm sure in time it gets easier and second nature and you learn by trial and error but holy this constant uncertainty is super annoying haha.