The marketing of foods without gluten has exploded. Those with Celiac disease, of course, are grateful. Until only a few years ago, it was difficult to find grocery options for the estimated 3 million Americans that suffer from celiac disease, along with another 18 million experiencing some degree of gluten sensitivity. What does it mean to have gluten sensitivity?
Doctors recently developed a definition for gluten sensitivity but it’s an ambiguous one. It’s a label for people who suffer bloating and other celiac symptoms and seem to be helped by avoiding gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body’s natural defense system to react to gluten by attacking the inner lining of the small intestine. Gluten is defined as the protein that occurs naturally in many grains.
Food labels can often be ambiguous –sometimes misleading for those trying to minimize their symptoms by avoiding foods that cause sensitivity. To eliminate the confusion, the FDA issued an official rule on August 5th, defining specifically what it means for a food product to be gluten-free. “This standard ‘gluten-free’ definition will eliminate uncertainty about how food producers label their products and will assure people with celiac disease that foods labeled ‘gluten-free’ meet a clear standard, established and enforced by FDA” stated Michael Taylor, Deputy FDA Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine. According to the new standard, any product labeled ‘gluten-free’, ‘without gluten’, ‘free of gluten’ or ‘no gluten’ must contain no more than 20 parts per million of wheat, rye, barley or any other ingredient derived from these grains that has not been processed to remove gluten.
All GOOD NEWS for the 21 million affected Americans who will now know what the “gluten-free” claim really means and that manufacturers will be held responsible for meeting this standard. Companies will have one year to bring their labels into compliance.
Check out the Gluten-Free recipes posted on our EatSmart Blog.
About the Author: Maria Geronimo is the Public Relations Director at EatSmart Products.