Well, it's official. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized the definition of the term "gluten-free" and is regulating its use on food labels. No longer can manufacturers simply slap that label on their foods without following proper guidelines first.
According to the FDA, "the term 'gluten-free' now refers to foods that are either inherently gluten-free or foods that do not contain any ingredient that is:
- A gluten-containing grain (e.g. spelt wheat)
- Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g. wheat flour)
- 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"
Foods that contain an unavoidable bit of gluten must keep that presence to less than 20 ppm.
Why Bother with Gluten ?Labeling?
More than 3 million Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease, an immune reaction to gluten. Countless others are facing gluten intolerances and sensitivities. This labeling guideline will make it easier for them to find foods that they can eat safely.
Since there are no pharmaceutical cures or treatments for celiac disease, the only way to live with the disease comfortably is to avoid all gluten. These guidelines will help make that easier for everyone who cannot eat gluten.
What's the Timeline for ?Implementation?
Manufacturers will have one year to get everything up to speed and comply with the regulations.
Do ALL Manufacturers Have to Follow These Guidelines?
No. These guidelines only apply to FDA-regulated foods and dietary supplements.
Note that this new rule does not apply to foods labeled by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Where Can I Learn More About the Gluten Labeling Rules and Celiac Disease?
Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she’s not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.