Monday, October 7, 2013

Gluten-free standardization on food labels

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 label foods as “gluten-free” without following proper guidelines. 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, an autoimmune digestive condition, 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.

Here are the guidelines:

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.

The guidelines are based on the smallest amount of gluten that can be detected using scientific analysis tools and are in line with the international bodies that set guidelines for food safety standards. Manufacturers have until Aug. 5, 2014, to comply with the rule. For more information, go to http://go.usa.gov/DHe2

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