Gluten-Free Labeling Now In The USA

A field of wheat with a blue sky backdrop.
By Simon Howden. Courtesy of

In the USA, there are 3 million US citizens from all backgrounds, who suffer from celiac disease but there had not been sufficient labeling stating ‘gluten free’ on the packaging. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has now defined the term ‘gluten free’ so that claims on food packaging are made to help celiac sufferers choose appropriate foodstuffs. The FDA definition has the provision that the food so described as ‘gluten-free’, ‘no gluten’, ‘without gluten’ or ‘free of gluten’,  contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten (<20 ppm).

All food manufactures have been given a year to comply with the FDA labeling requirements which are published in the Federal register. The rule is issued pursuant to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA). The FDA predict there will be an annual health benefit of about $110 million, compared to the estimated annual costs through relabeling of $7 million. Such labeling has been in practice within the EU for some time with products that could claim to be free of gluten. Clearly, making it clear about the presence of gluten on the label will make it easier for celiac sufferers to identify those foods, especially ones with many ingredients.

Gluten itself is a group of proteins commonly found in all cereals such as wheat, oats and barley. In celiac sufferers, gluten triggers an auto-immune response leading to damage of the intestines and is extremely debilitating. It’s not at all pleasant ! Sufferers must keep to a gluten-free diet to avoid the issue and manage their condition. Plenty of product development has taken place over many years to reduce gluten in baked products and the trend continues. The FDA site blog explains more of the reasoning behind the drive for such better labeling.

References  (no longer available – 30th April 2019)

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