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FDA Defines Gluten Free
FDA defines “gluten-free” for food labeling
New rule provides standard definition to protect the health of Americans with celiac disease
n August 2, 2013, FDA issued a final rule defining “gluten-free” for food labeling, which will help consumers, especially those living with celiac disease, be confident that items labeled “gluten-free” meet a defined standard for gluten content.
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.
For more information:
FDA: Gluten-Free Labeling
FDA: Gluten-Free Labeling Final Rule Q&A
FDA: Consumer Update
Information provided by the FDA, to view the original site click here.
FDA Clarifies Gluten Free Rules for Restaurants
The FDA's updated Question & Answer, #9 under ‘Labeling’, now reads:
FDA recognizes that compliance with the gluten-free rule in processed foods and food served in restaurants is important for the health of people with celiac disease.
In August 2013, FDA issued final rule that established a federal definition of the term ‘”gluten-free” for food manufacturers that voluntarily label FDA-regulated foods as “gluten-free.”
This definition is intended to provide a reliable way for people with celiac disease to avoid gluten, and we expect that restaurants’ use of “gluten-free” labeling will be consistent with the federal definition.
The deadline for compliance with the rule is not until August 2014, although we have encouraged the food industry to bring its labeling into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible.
Given the public health significance of “gluten-free” labeling, we encourage the restaurant industry to move quickly to ensure that its use of “gluten-free” labeling is consistent with the federal definition and look forward to working with the industry to support their education and outreach to restaurants.
In addition, state and local governments play an important role in oversight of restaurants. We expect to work with our state and local government partners with respect to gluten-free labeling in restaurants. We will consider enforcement action as needed, alone or with other agencies, to protect consumers.
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