Target: Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Margaret A. Hamburg
Goal: Thank agency for standardization of gluten-free label to protect consumers
After a six-year debate, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a new Gluten-Free Labeling Regulation that will define the use of ingredients and labeling terms for gluten-free products. Until now, the term “gluten-free” was unregulated and definitions varied among different manufacturers. This ambiguity made grocery shopping a complicated and even dangerous endeavor for thousands of people suffering from gluten sensitivities or wheat allergies. Commend the FDA for this much-needed standardization of gluten-free products to protect consumers.
Due to this lack of regulation, there are many opportunities during the manufacturing process for supposedly “gluten-free” food to become tainted. Ingredients containing gluten like barley and rye are often excluded from ingredient lists. Cross-contamination from other products made in the same facility also poses a serious threat to gluten-free consumers.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that prevents the absorption of nutrients, affects up to three million Americans. Consumption of gluten found in wheat and other cereal grains can cause severe symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss. According to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, “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.” Awareness and diagnosis of this disease has increased rapidly in the past decade, leading to a huge expansion of gluten-free products in the marketplace.
A gluten-free diet appeals to a variety of people seeking healthier diets for weight loss or other health concerns beyond celiac disease. PR Web reports that the gluten-free food industry has doubled annually in size since 2011 and is projected to reach $8.5 billion by 2015. But as the market for gluten-free products grows, so have the number of misleading claims.
This new ruling requires products labeled “gluten-free,” to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. According to Huffington Post, this amount is “generally recognized by the medical community to be low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won’t get sick if they eat it.” This decision will simplify shopping decisions for consumers on gluten-free diets and prevent accidental consumption of gluten. Sign below to show your appreciation for this important regulation.
Dear Ms. Hamburg,
We are grateful to the FDA for introducing the Gluten-Free Labeling Regulation to define “gluten-free” and create a uniform labeling system. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America has called the regulation a “triumph for the gluten-free community.” By establishing a standardized labeling system and safety threshold for gluten-free labeling at 20 ppm or less, this regulation protects consumers from vague or misleading gluten-free claims.
Until now, manufacturers had different standards and definitions of “gluten-free.” This has complicated shopping decisions for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities and has caused dangerous accidents after accidental consumption of gluten. This new regulation will provide greater assurance to people on gluten-free diets that the products they’re purchasing won’t endanger their health, allowing them to make safer and more confident food choices.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Rachel Kramer Bussel via Flickr