FDA Finally Defines "Gluten-Free"

The FDA is taking steps to set new standards for gluten-free product labels

Strolling down the aisles of your local supermarket, it's easy to see that the gluten-free movement is still going strong. Pastas, breads, cakes, cereals and snacks are all being labeled and marketed as gluten-free but until now, the FDA has yet to define what that actually means.

The FDA is announcing new guidelines for gluten-free food labeling. Taking a cue from the E.U., foods labeled gluten-free must contain no more than 20 parts per million gluten, the lowest level of gluten that can be detected in a lab.

With unregulated labeling, gluten content could reach levels high enough to cause a physical reaction in those suffering from celiac disease, a digestive condition that is set off by consumption of products containing gluten. 

This lack of standardization can be extremely troubling for those who suffer from celiac disease, but the gluten-free market is not limited to those with celiac. Many people have chosen to follow a gluten-free diet due to its purported benefits including clear skin, increased energy levels and weight loss.  

While the final ruling on gluten-free labeling is not expected to go into full effect until 2012, the FDA is encouraging the gluten-free community to share their thoughts on the new regulations. To voice your opinion, head over to regulations.gov and enter docket number FDA-2005-N-0404.

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