The US Food and Drug Administration set its first-ever guidelines for “gluten-free” labeling. The FDA announced the decision on Friday.
The change is good for those with celiac disease, who are unable to consumer many products that contain gluten. It also comes after six years of consideration.
Before now, manufacturers have been able to use their own discretion for how much gluten they include in a gluten-free product, reports ABC News. This is because the products aren’t completely free of wheat, rye, barley, and other derivatives.
But the new rule announced by the FDA requires gluten-free products to have less than 20 parts per million of the protein. The amount is usually considered low enough that those with celiac disease won’t get sick when they eat it.
Celiac disease affects about three million Americans. It is an inherited auto-immune condition that makes it impossible to digest gluten. Instead, a celiac’s body will produce antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed.
USA Today notes that the disease can cause serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoperosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, and several others.
Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, stated that food companies will have one year to conform with the new gluten-free label guidelines.
Andrea Levario, the executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance in Virginia, called the new label rules “fantastic.” Levario, whose son has celiac disease, explained that the only treatment for the ailment is cutting out gluten completely. She added:
“While a diabetic needs insulin to survive, a celiac must have gluten-free food. Without clear ingredient information and a definitive labeling standard, celiac consumers are playing Russian roulette when it comes to making safe food choices.”
Gluten-free foods have become popular in recent years, with the market comprising an estimated $4.2 billion last year. It is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2017.
Are you glad to hear the FDA now has labeling guidelines for gluten-free foods?