The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act passed in 2004 and it required the FDA to set gluten-free labeling legislation by 2008, but here we are in October 2012 with no finalized gluten-free labeling legislation. There is now an open petition on the White House website asking the Obama administration to finalize gluten-free labeling now.
When 2008 came and went with no labeling regulations, the organization 1in133.org was formed and managed to get the attention of the FDA by building the world’s largest gluten-free cake. Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor attended the event and committed to having proposed labeling legislation to the gluten-free community within three months. They met this goal and in August of 2011, the FDA issued draft labeling regulations and an opportunity for comments from the community was also opened. The gluten-free community was told the final regulations would be out by the end of the third quarter of 2012.
Unfortunately, some of the comments received by the FDA during the comment prior were not of one voice. According to Jules Shepard, “the FDA must address and respond to each comment lodged during the comment period. The more different, opposing and even slightly off-topic the comments, the more work for the FDA before the final regulations can issue.”
After the FDA finishes its work, the regulations must go to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its other internal divisions, and then to the rest of the President’s cabinet and to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, and then finally, to the Federal Register for publication.
An estimated 3 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, and even more have been diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Without adequate labeling, those on a gluten-free diet do not have the needed information from manufacturers to make safe food choices.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of waiting for gluten-free labeling regulations to be passed in the United States when Europe and Canada have had these regulations in place for years. This petition will not be looked at by the White House unless it is signed by 25,000 people on November 2, 2012, so I strongly urge you to sign it and to encourage others to do the same.
It has been a long road, but by working together we can let the voice of the gluten-free community be heard!
Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA
Jennifer D. Harris, http://www.jenniferglutenfreeingeorgia.blogspot.com
Atlanta Gluten-Free Examiner
Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA