FDA Defines Gluten-Free

All of these foods are naturally gluten-free

This week is a great week for those with celiac or gluten-sensitivity!  Why?  Because the FDA has defined “gluten-free” and that will require food manufacturers to be consistent in what they call “gluten-free.” Excited? Confused? You aren’t alone. Read on to learn the key points.

No more reading labels?  Yahoo!

Sadly, you will still need to read labels when you shop, and every time you shop. What it does mean is that any product labeled “gluten-free” after August, 2014, will have to contain less gluten than 20 parts per million (“ppm”).

Wait, I thought you said the FDA defined “gluten-free.”  Why are they allowing gluten in gluten-free products?

When the FDA chose how to define the amount of gluten in a product, they quickly realized that while some foods are always gluten-free (fresh fruit, whole fish, water), other naturally gluten-free products are possibly cross-contaminated (lentils, nuts, rice) because of where they are grown, how they are harvested or where they are packaged.  In order to determine whether those products actually contain gluten, there needed to be a reliable test.  When a product had less than 20 ppm, the FDA wasn’t able to consistently tell whether there was gluten or not. So they chose that threshold for their standard.  This is the same standard that the European Union has chosen.

These prepared foods are all safe for Celiacs to eat

Does that mean I will get sick if I eat these new gluten-free foods?

No! The majority of celiacs can eat food with 20 ppm gluten and not feel any effects. In fact, one of the reasons the FDA chose that level for the standard was to ensure that the current gluten-free foods that are safe for celiacs would not need to be pulled from stores due to testing issues.

Enough talk.  Show me the new label!

There isn’t one. The FDA created a standard but they didn’t create a mandatory image for packages or even mandatory language. So you will continue to need to read label packaging each and every time you shop.

Click to learn more about the FDA’s new standard

Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

So what’s a family to eat while they wait for the wonderful new labeling to begin?  Delicious, gluten-free foods, of course! Try

Tomato & Green Bean Salad with Chimichurri Dressing
This is a great side salad at dinner or lunch.  Chimichurri is South America’s answer to pesto. For extra protein, try adding chickpeas or canned salmon.


  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Chimichurri Dressing:
    • 1 cup fresh parsley
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 jalapeño, end trimmed, seeds and pith removed
    • 3 Tbs red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp kosher salt


  1. Prepare dressing: combine parsley, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno in food processor. Process until chunky. Add vinegar and process more. Add oil and salt, and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.  Let rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Blanche green beans: bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add green beans and cook for 2-4 minutes, until beans are bright green but still crisp to the bite.  Remove from heat, drain and place beans in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.
  3. Make salad: Drain water and ice and place beans in a large bowl.  Add tomatoes and onion and toss.  Add 1/4 cup of dressing and toss until combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning (you may want more dressing, especially if you love spice).  Sprinkle feta over salad just before serving.


Notes from Amy
You will have extra Chimichurri Dressing – hooray!  Use it as a fish or meat marinade or mix with Greek-style yogurt for a tangy dip for veggies. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week.


Download recipe now!

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