People with celiac disease could get very sick if they eat gluten, a mixture of proteins that occur naturally in grains and are found in many foods, including breads, cakes, cereals and pastas. To give these consumers confidence that foods voluntarily labeled “gluten-free” meet a standard established and enforced by the FDA, the agency issued a rule in 2013 that defines the characteristics a food has to have to bear such a claim.
Manufacturers had until August 5, 2014 to bring their labels into compliance with the requirement that a food labeled “gluten free” must either be inherently gluten free or does not contain an ingredient that is: a gluten-containing grain; derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten; or derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.
Three years later, what impact has defining the term “gluten-free” had on people living with celiac disease?
Carol D’Lima, Ph.D., a food technologist in FDA’s Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, and Alessio Fasano, M.D., chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, talk about the real-world impact of this labeling standard.
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