Time is running out to offer your opinion on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal on labeling foods as “gluten-free.” It is accepting feedback until Oct. 3, 2011.
The main criterion proposed is that foods bearing the claim “gluten-free” must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The agency based this proposed standard in part on the available methods for gluten detection. The validated test methods could not reliably detect the amount of gluten in a food when the level was less than 20 parts per million. The threshold of less than 20 parts per million also is similar to “gluten-free” labeling standards used by many other countries, including Canada.
“Before finalizing our gluten-free definition, we want up-to-date input from affected consumers, the food industry, and others to help assure that the label strikes the right balance,” said Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods. “We must take into account the need to protect individuals with celiac disease from adverse health consequences while ensuring that food manufacturers can meet the needs of consumers by producing a wide variety of gluten-free foods.
The proposed rule conforms to the standard set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 2008, which requires that foods labeled as “gluten-free” not contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten. This standard has been adopted in regulations by the 27 countries composing the Commission of European Communities.
The FDA encourages consumers to offer comments and suggestions about gluten-free labeling. To read more and find out how to offer input, click here.