Gluten-Free Labeling Update: Big News!

by Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD on August 3rd, 2011


Cheryl Harris Gluten Free Works

Could it possibly be?  At long last, there’s some movement on the behalf of the gluten-free labeling movement.

nutrition labelThis is REALLY big news for people who are gluten-free in the U.S.!  The FDA has re-opened a comment period for 60 days to solicit opinions from health professionals, scientists and the public on a potential ruling for defining gluten-free as less than 20 ppm.

Why 20ppm? According Michael Taylor at the FDA at stakeholder teleconference on Aug 2nd, it’s the lowest amount that can be accurately quantified, and many leading experts believe it is a safe amount. Europe has used it for 20 + years.  Several prominent researchers, including Dr. Alesso Fasano and Dr.Stefano Guandalini, spoke in favor of the new proposed legislation. “This is a standard that has been in use in Europe for almost two decades, & the science supports the U.S. adopting it as well,” commented Dr. Fasano.  FDA also  published a safety assessment as well regarding the safety level.

A final ruling is due out in the 3rd quarter of 2012, and per speakers “the FDA is committed to moving quickly”  This regulation will only cover food for human consumption and will not cover medications, etc.

There were lots of fantastic questions about cross contamination, low gluten designations, symbols and much more.  In most cases, FDA responded by encouraging people to comment.

I know this is a very, very hot topic and I hope everyone will take this opportunity to make your voice heard!

The comment period starts Aug 3rd around noon, and you can submit your comment here:
www.regulations.gov and entering Docket No. FDA-2005-N-0404

For more information and a statement from the FDA, please see:

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm265212.htm

A very big thank you to the FDA for hosting this discussion and taking this next step, and to 1 in 133, American Celiac Disease Alliance, University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research and many, many others for getting this legislation moving again.

My take: I’m all for it. There are still other programs out there which will certify foods at lower than 20 ppm, such as CSA, GIG and NFCA.  I like the idea of having something uniform, standard and most of all, enforceable.  However, I hope they incorporate newer research, such as the studies that came out on gluten free grains and flours and cross contamination.  I also hope they look closely at the issue of considering oats gluten-free, since there is still a good deal of controversy on the issue.

 

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Author Information: Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD, Alexandria, VA, USA.
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist.  Her passion is teaching people to live and love a gluten-free diet in the Northern Virginia area. For more, seewww.harriswholehealth.com or follow on Twitter @cherylharrisrd


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2 Responses to “Gluten-Free Labeling Update: Big News!”

  1. Hi Peter-
    Indeed it’s around on the web, and I certainly can’t take any credit/blame for that. It’s a direct quote from Dr. Alessio Fasano from his letter on his website and a verbatim quote (hence the quotations) from the conference call. “For more than 20 years, millions of people worldwide have been following a gluten-free diet on a level of 20 ppm or more (up to 100 ppm). The vast majority of those consumer have suffered no ill consequences”.
    Yes, the 20ppm full compliance date is Jan 2011, but his argument is that 20ppm + has been around safely for 30 years.
    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your question/clarification?

  2. Peter Olins says:

    Thanks for reporting on this topic so promptly.

    One important correction on the statement from the FDA about the European Codex:
    http://www.coeliac.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/diet-information/codex-standard

    –A 200 ppm gluten standard was put in place in 1981
    –A voluntary 20 ppm standard was enacted in Jan. 2009
    –Full compliance required by Jan. 2011

    I trust that this was just an slip of the tongue, but unfortunately, this error has propogated to a number of other sites on the internet.

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