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FDA Finally Issues Definition of “GLUTEN FREE”!

posted by Jennifer Diaz August 2, 2013 0 comments

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!! FDA issued the update below today DEFINING the term “Gluten Free”.   As a Celiac, this is extremely exciting news! The reason this is a HUGE deal?  Us Celiac’s need to know we can trust food products that are labeled “gluten free”.  If they are not, the repercussions are severe, ranging from serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers…

My sincere hope is FDA will now test imported products that make “GLUTEN FREE” claims, and assure these companies are legitimately using the gluten free claim.  Meaning, I hope FDA will enforce and penalize those that are importing misbranded product and not correctly utilizing the gluten free claim!  The enforcement tools I will look for include FDA detaining imported product making gluten free claims, and sending them to FDA’s own laboratories to check the parts per million of gluten in the product.  If the product contains more than 20 parts per million of gluten, FDA should refuse admission of the product – meaning it would need to be exported or destroyed within 90 days of the refusal, otherwise, companies would face a liquidated damages claim. I also hope FDA will take the added step of adding non-compliant companies to the FDA’s Import Alert (black list) so that the products are AUTOMATICALLY stopped before entering the U.S. and the importer is forced to prove compliance prior to getting FDA to release the goods.

The “Compliance Date” for this final rule is August 5, 2014. If consumers see products labeled “gluten free” we should be able to TRUST that those products legitimately do not contain gluten. Now, we have a standard. Products labeled gluten free must contain LESS than 20 parts per million of gluten to be legitimately labeled so.

This is a fantastic start!!! Here’s what the FDA had to say, and the actual FINAL RULE is included as a hyperlink at the end.

FDA defines “gluten-free” for food labeling

New rule provides standard definition to protect the health of Americans with celiac disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling. This will provide a uniform standard definition to help the up to 3 million Americans who have celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that can be effectively managed only by eating a gluten free diet.

“Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating celiac disease, which can be very disruptive to everyday life,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health.”

This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”

The FDA recognizes that many foods currently labeled as “gluten-free” may be able to meet the new federal definition already. Food manufacturers will have a year after the rule is published to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

“We encourage the food industry to come into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible and help us make it as easy as possible for people with celiac disease to identify foods that meet the federal definition of ‘gluten-free’” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

The term “gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains. In people with celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of celiac disease patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other very serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

The FDA was directed to issue the new regulation by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which directed FDA to set guidelines for the use of the term “gluten-free” to help people with celiac disease maintain a gluten-free diet.

The regulation was published today in the Federal Register.

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