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.
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.
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 and Green Bean Salad with Chimichurri Dressing.