Gluten Free Labeling Problem
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is accepting comments from any and everyone for 60 days starting from August 3, 2011 to October 3, 2011. These comments can come from anyone, dieticians, consumers, Celiacs, doctors, nurses, restaurant owners and food business owners. The last FDA labeling for gluten free was in 2007 and actually left it up to the person or business whether to label their product “gluten free” or not. Most companies chose to add a list of ingredients. However, if dextrin is labeled on a list of ingredients, no one knows if this is the dextrin with gluten or the dextrin without gluten. This has left the Celiac to “do all the work” in investigating every food product one eats. To make matters more complicated, just because you find a “safe” product, doesn’t make it always safe. Food companies can change the ingredients on you at will and you’ll never know unless you read the label. You basically have to bring your magnifying glass to the store to examine every product with a fine tooth comb. If that isn’t difficult enough, some companies are labeling their products “gluten free” and they aren’t even qualified for gluten free status. When testing is done, the 20 ppm of gluten that is suggested is coming out greater than 20 ppm and even up to 100 ppm. The FDA ought to be fining these companies and taking these “gluten free” products off the shelf.
There is NO Gluten Free Law
In 27 countries, what is acceptable for gluten free labeling is to limit gluten to 20 ppm (parts per million) in products. Celiacs are upset because they know and realize that 20 ppm in products are TOO much and they will still get sick. True Type I Celiacs need 100% gluten free labeling. This puts the food companies at odds with their Celiac consumers. The food companies want to sell their products to Celiac patients, with the label “gluten free” on it; however, their products are NOT meeting the minimum suggested “gluten free” labeling requirements of 20 ppm of gluten. Note: The rule from January 2007 was written under a Memorandum and was never made into law. A Memorandum is a suggestion, not law. This means that even when food companies are NOT following guidelines, they cannot be fined. It’s basically a warning from the FDA that this is where they are going with gluten. It’s been 4 ½ years since that Memorandum and definitely improvement of labeling has taken place. More needs to be done. The FDA has been sitting on this gluten free labeling since January 2007. Perhaps they were aware of our impending financial crisis and had bigger fish to fry. The FDA is now ready to move on “gluten-free” labeling and this Examiner would like to encourage everyone to put forth their opinion to the FDA. Here’s your chance.
The FDA needs to Act
If the FDA moves to require 100% gluten free labeling, many new all gluten free facilities will have to open up to meet those requirements. Additionally, though gluten free products are expensive, the products will go up even higher due to the stringent requirements of 100% gluten free. The FDA knows and is aware that it is virtually impossible to have a 100% gluten free product without a 100% gluten free facility. The FDA is going to have to make a decision to cater to the food business sectors or the true Type I Celiacs. This Examiner thinks they will come out somewhere in between.
Will we have 100% Gluten Free Facilities or just less than 20 ppm of Gluten?
To be 100% gluten free, you must have a 100% gluten free facility or 100% gluten free restaurant. If you have other products in your facility, more than likely you have a product that is 20 ppm of gluten contamination. Being served a salad with croutons on it and picking off the croutons will perhaps be acceptable to the gluten sensitive person but NOT to the Type I nor Type II Celiac. One tiny grain of gluten will make them sick. Gluten is in wheat, rye, barley and most oats due to the contamination factor. Several years ago Walmart began to label their own products “gluten free” if they were. No doubt, Walmart got a jump on most vendors and is the reason they remain competitive today against most anyone. It’s time for the USA to “get with the program” and stop acting like a country back in the 20th Century. Will we adapt what most of the World has adapted? That is, a gluten free product has less than 20 ppm of gluten. Or will we adapt two labels, one for 100% gluten free and one for the low gluten product of 20 ppm or less of gluten?
Make your Voice Heard
Comments are being accepted by the Food and Drug Administration. Click here to submit your comment.
Click here to read further for FDA labeling in a previous article.
Read what the FDA found here:: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2005-N-0404-0137
Where to shop for gluten free products:
Drug Emporium (Bertrand, Laf)
Walmart (several stores in Laf)
Albertsons (several stores in Laf)
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