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Gluten-Free Food Ingredient Labeling Regulations

This category deals with all issues surrounding gluten-free food and ingredient labeling regulations, including United States Food and Drug Administration proposed and actual regulations.

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    Good news for consumers of gluten-free foods and other products: The FDA's new standards for the labeling of gluten-free food and other products apply to all foods and products labeled gluten-free, including dietary supplements and vitamins.



    People with celiac disease can now have confidence in the meaning of a "gluten-free" label on foods.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule that defines what characteristics a food has to have to bear a label that proclaims it "gluten- free."



    Photo: CC--mandberg

    If you think the FDA has dropped the ball on gluten-free food labeling, you are not alone. Five years after their mandate to create a rule defining gluten-free food, the agency has yet to act.



    Photo: CC--mira66

    The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., to ensure that students with celiac disease and other food allergies can fully and equally enjoy the university’s meal plan and food services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).



    Since 2004 when Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, sufferers of celiac disease have awaited some sort of finalized action from the FDA to set a rule for gluten-free labeling. The FDA proposed a gluten-free food labeling rule in 2007 and since then, there have been multiple open comment periods for it, but as of yet, there has been no finalized action to control gluten-free labeling in food products.



    Photo: Jefferson Adams

    Since August 4th, 2012, Canadian Food Allergen Labeling Regulations require all food products containing gluten, or any of ten other major allergens, to clearly state their presence on the label.



    Photo: CC--The Northwest Beer Guide

    Two promising new gluten-free beers meet major standards for gluten-free labeling, but a government agency says they cannot be labeled gluten-free. Who's right?



    Photo: CC - Michael Jolley

    Even though public awareness of celiac disease is growing thanks to the recent surge in popularity of gluten-free dieting, gluten-free is still an uncontrolled term. The FDA proposed a < 20ppm gluten rule for gluten-free labeling in 2007 and reopened the proposed rule for comment last August, but many feel that too little is being done too slowly to control labeling of gluten content in foods.



    Photo: CC--ms4jah
    A recent statement by the FDA announces that the agency is gathering data to respond to calls for an "alternative approach" to determining a specific gluten threshold level other than the proposed level of under 20 parts per million gluten as one of the criteria to define the term “gluten-free.”


    Coeliac UK, Britain's leading celiac disease organization has finalized an agreement for all European countries to use a single universal gluten-free symbol on the front of all packaging for gluten-free products.


    Photo: CC - liberalmind1012
    Over the last decade, many companies are adding labels to their products like: "gluten-free," "low gluten," "no gluten," "no gluten ingredients used," "naturally gluten-free" and "celiac friendly."  To many celiacs and individuals with gluten intolerance, the idea of companies labeling products without gluten is refreshing.  To experts on celiac disease and gluten intolerance, the gluten labeling currently happening in the United States is frightening. 


    There should be a gluten-free standard by now, but there is not. In 2004, Congress passed a law requiring the Food and Drug Administration to define the phrase 'gluten-free' by 2008. That deadline passed with the FDA providing no such definition, and we still have no official ruling today, in 2011.



    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.


    Photo: CC-jaygoldman
    The Canadian brewing industry caught a break when their products were exempted from new allergy labeling rules that would have required warning labels to declare beer to contain wheat or barley.


    New gluten label rules meet strong opposition by Canadian Beer Industry. Photo: CC-jaygoldman
    Proposed health regulations that would require beer labels to include a warning that beer is made with barley or wheat have the Canadian beer industry in a froth.


    NIAID released its first ever list of guidelines for food allergies. Photo: CC-stephendepolo
    The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) released its first ever list of guidelines for food allergies. Developed over two years by a panel of nineteen experts, the guidelines suggest avoiding the ingestion of specific allergens as the best strategy for managing allergies, but make no recommendations for medication.


    Health Canada needs public input (photo courtesy of TKOwned)
    Finding gluten-free food is hard enough without having to worry if your "gluten-free" labeled food is really gluten-free. For those of us that become increasingly ill from ingesting a small amount of gluten, improper  food labeling can  be a matter of life or death.

    The European Union’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued new rules for foods carrying the ‘gluten-free’ label. Under the new rules, foods labeled ‘gluten-free’ must have less than 20 parts of gluten per million. This new standard represents a ten-fold reduction over the prior rules, which set the gluten limit at 200 parts per million.

    In a constitutionally protected act, I have submitted a Citizen’s Petition to the FDA requesting that they take gluten off the list of permitted excipients. As I write, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has asked the FDA only to label medicines that have been made with gluten, but to allow gluten to continue to be used at the decision of the manufacturer. 

    People with celiac disease and others who rely upon gluten-free foods to maintain good health got some good news recently, when the Codex Alimentarius Commission the international body responsible for establishing food safety standards, adopted a single, clear standard for foods labeled as gluten-free.

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