Regulations on Gluten Free Labeling

The FDA just passed new labeling regulations on gluten free foods. Now, as of August 5th, 2014, in order to label a product as gluten-free, it needs to pass strict requirements proving that there is no gluten (less than 20 parts per million gluten). Up until now, the gluten-free term was not legally defined and product manufacturers made up their own standards. Products containing small amounts of gluten may have been labeled gluten-free. Now, the FDA has developed a clear definition of what it means for a product to be labeled as gluten-free.

From the FDA…

Gluten-free: In general, foods may be labeled “gluten-free” if they meet the definition and otherwise comply with the final rule’s requirements. More specifically, the final rule defines gluten-free as meaning that the food either is inherently gluten free; or does not contain an ingredient that is: 1) a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); 2) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or 3) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.

This is good. For dietitians, health practitioners, and especially-for those living with celiacs or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Especially since the population of people living with gluten sensitivity has risen significantly in recent years. Millions of people are gluten-free product consumers. Food manufacturers in the gluten free market segment are making big $$. And if they claim and label a product as such, it should be true. Gluten-free labeled products SHOULD be basically void of gluten. FDA labeling works to educate, protect, and guide consumers. It should be clear, true and non-deceiving.

Now, consumers can be sure that their food doesnt contain gluten. We can trust the gluten free labeling of products. Previously, we had to scour the ingredient decks of products to find secret gluten derivatives. Note that wheat does need to be declared on a product, but barley and rye may still remain hidden.