For the people suffering from the celiac disease eating gluten can be a life threatening event. This is why the organizations supporting people with this health problem rejoiced in the recent decision of FDA to establish an accurate definition of what the average American knows as “gluten free”.
The Importance of the Act
It is a known fact that food producers used to label their products as “ gluten free” in the absence of a proper regulation able to establish the admissible amount of gluten present the those foods. In these conditions, people suffering from celiac disease could never be sure whether or not foods labeled as such were safe to eat.
The New Criteria
The new FDA criteria sets a limit of 22ppm( gluten parts /million) for the foods that will be labeled as “gluten free”. According to the scientific research this is the level of gluten that celiac disease patients can consume without putting their health in danger. This is also the level of gluten approved in the rest of the countries where safety food regulations apply.
Explaining Gluten Intolerance
Gluten is a protein that can be found in wheat, barley, rye and other crossed cereal species. For the people suffering from celiac disease eating gluten can cause a lot of health issues from mild diarrhea to nutrient deficiency and consequently anemia and osteoporosis. Long term gluten consumption can lead for celiac disease patients to diabetes, intestinal cancers and thyroid disease.
What does FDA Regulation State?
According to the new FDA regulation a “gluten free” product must not contain any type of ingredient coming from wheat, rye, barley or related grains. In case the foods contain elements from these grains, the elements in question must be processed so that gluten will be removed. The products that contain gluten in the proportion of 22ppm are considered safe to be labeled “gluten free”.
The food producers have a year, starting with August 5th 2013, to comply with the new regulation and it is very likely that a large number of products currently on the market are in line with the new regulation. However the FDA representatives recommend the food industry to apply the new rule as soon as possible.
As with any other FDA regulation, after the compliance term has passed, any food that carries the labels “free of gluten”, “ gluten free” or “ no gluten” and does not follow the rules will be considered misbranded and fines will apply.