1 In 133: Let’s Define Gluten Free

May 04, 2011

Happy Celiac Awareness Month, now if only the FDA would properly define gluten free

Today is the first annual Gluten Free Labeling Summit, where legislators, celiac disease researchers, gluten-free community leaders, and food corporations are getting together in Washington, DC to call upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce a standard for both safe and effective labeling of gluten-free food. Yes, you heard it right, the labeling of gluten free foods is not strictly regulated by the FDA (http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/FoodAllergensLabeling/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm111487.htm) nor does the agency even have a standard definition of gluten free foods!

The FDA was given four years… until 2008… to create a definition for gluten free products, and we’re still waiting. The rates of celiac disease diagnosis as well as gluten sensitivity are rising, and consumer still can not trust food companies labeling as their basis for gluten free products vary. Currently, at least three million Americans have celiac disease, one in 133, an autoimmune intestinal disorder, which damages the tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine. The damage inhibits proper nutrient absorption from foods, thus when people with celiac disease are repeatedly exposed to gluten, they face an increased risk of both nutritional and immune related disorders, like anemia, osteoporosis, GI cancers, and nervous system disorders. Eighteen million people are said to have gluten sensitivity, which causes temporary discomfort, i.e. headache, irritability, sleeplessness, intestinal problems and more.

The gluten free product industry in the US is estimated at $2.6 billion, clearly there is a huge need to set a proper definition for these products. Outside of the US, countries like Canada, Brazil and Australia have defined gluten-free foods as 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. And foods are clearly labeled as gluten free.

Coinciding with National Celiac Awareness Month, today’s event will also feature the world's largest gluten-free cake, which was prepared to symbolize the big deal that clear, accurate, reliable labeling plays in the lives of people dependent on labeling for their health.

For more information visit: 1 in 133