“Gluten Free” Commenting Period Reopened

On August 2, 2011, the FDA reopened the comment period on a 2007 proposal regarding “gluten free” food labels. Gluten, a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and similar species, is a health hazard for individuals with celiac disease. One of the criteria proposed is that foods bearing the “gluten free” claim cannot contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten. The agency based the proposal, in part, on the available methods for gluten detection, which cannot reliably detect gluten at levels less than 20 ppm. This standard has been adopted in regulations by the 27 countries composing the Commission of European Communities.

The FDA has been working to define “gluten-free” in order to:

  • eliminate uncertainty about how food producers may label their products.
  • assure consumers who must avoid gluten that foods labeled “gluten-free” meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA.

The current definition of “gluten free” under the proposed rule is:

  • an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains;
  • an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten;
  • an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten; or
  • 20 ppm or more gluten is found in the food.

Will you be weighing in on the proposed rule? Do you believe the proposed definition is overly broad or too narrow?