FDA Defines Gluten-Free: FDA Defines “Gluten-Free” for Food Labeling

In 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued the Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act. What it didn’t include at that time was any regulation on what gluten-free meant. The act went into full effect for the top eight allergens in 2006 (this included wheat but not gluten, which is the protein found in wheat, barely and rye). You can read more about FALCPA here and how it applies to allergen labels and how to read and understand them.

Today is a very big day for the gluten-free, celiac disease community as the FDA finally set a standard for what it means to call a food “gluten-free”. The FDA now defines a gluten-free food as containing less than 20 parts per million [ppm] of gluten. This number is similar to standards in Canada and the European Union however not as strict as those in Australia, which, as I understand from a food allergy counseling client who lives there, are five parts per million.

Many companies here have already adopted a 20ppm standard, so there should be little disruption; however, it will put on notice those food manufacturers jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon that the standards set down by the FDA must be met in order to be called gluten-free.


Here ths story from the New York Times today: F.D.A. Sets Standard for Foods Labeled Gluten Free:

The agency set a gluten limit of 20 parts per million in products labeled gluten free, said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the F.D.A. The limit had long been discussed and did not come as a surprise to industry or patient advocate groups. It was similar to the level adopted in recent years by the European Union and Canada, Mr. Taylor said.

And here is a link to the FDA ruling:

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.


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