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“Gluten-Free” Really Means Something!

gluten free

In August 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established standards for food products that were labeled “gluten-free.” Food manufacturers were given one year to comply with the new regulations for what could be advertised as “gluten-free," “without gluten,” or “no gluten.” The new regulation went into effect on Aug. 5 for a food to be considered “gluten-free” it must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This is the lowest level at which gluten can be consistently detected in food.

Proper labeling for gluten-free foods is essential for individuals who suffer from celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating foods with gluten, a protein that is present in wheat, rye and barley. The immune response triggers inflammation in the small intestine, which prevents absorption of nutrients. Over two million Americans have celiac disease, and many do not know that they have it.

Until now, there were no federal regulations for the term “gluten-free,” and about five percent of supposedly gluten-free foods contained gluten amounts that exceeded the new maximum limit.

The new rules also allow food companies to mark their product “gluten free” if the food contains no wheat, rye, barley or crossbreeds of the grains. Crossbreeds are

  • ingredients that are derived from the grains and not processed to remove the gluten or
  • ingredients derived from these grains and processed to remove gluten if the resulting product exceeds the 20 ppm limit.

One of the biggest challenges for individuals with celiac disease is eating at restaurants. Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., senior director of nutrition at the National Restaurant Association said, “With the new FDA gluten-free regulations now being enforced, restaurants will be well-served to ensure they are meeting the FDA-defined claim. We will continue to work with restaurant operators and chefs to assist and ensure a favorable dining experience for customers.” Although this is good news, consumers should still be cautious about foods that are presented as gluten-free in restaurants. On the bright side, the new regulations are a huge step in the right direction (Source: Healio).

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posted on October 15, 2014 in news