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Regulating “Gluten Free” Labels

Thanks to a new FDA law that has passed, food manufacturers are going to have to be more careful when making products with a “gluten free” label.   The law requires any prepackaged food with a gluten free claim can not contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. After finalizing the law in August 2013, the FDA required food manufacturers to have one year to comply and change their product and labeling. As of August 5, 2013, the rule went into full effect.

The celiac disease community lobbied for years to change the deceiving labels manufacturers were using in order to sell their product.For consumers looking for food that meets their dietary requirements, any food incorrectly labeled can cause them illness that could have easily been avoided.   The effects of this law will be beneficial to the millions of people with gluten intolerance. Since the mass acknowledgement and education of gluten intolerance, food manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to be able to provide all of their customers with food options for their dietary needs. The only problem is many products are only free of one major gluten product (for example, wheat germ), but did not take into account other ingredients that may have gluten in smaller quantity, such as the seasoning on the food.   The new standard applies to products with labels including terms like “gluten free”, “no gluten”, without gluten” and “free of gluten”, and includes all food and dietary supplements. However, this new law does not apply to most alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, prescriptions and non-prescription drugs, pet foods and foods regulated by the USDA (i.e. meat and poultry). If you believe a company is incorrectly labeling their food product as being “gluten free”, contact your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator here.

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