August 5th is a huge day for the gluten-free community. I tried to put together all you need to know about this day in celiac history for you based on information from key celiac organizations and the FDA. Most of the information is based on NFCA webinars are located here and here – with a follow-up PDF from the webinar here. Also, a Q&A for the Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule via the FDA is here. As you can see here, the labeling ruling is really just a start. There is so much more to be done in the celiac universe.
When does it start?
The compliance date is August 5th 2014.
“Gluten-Free” labeled food
- CAN’T CONTAIN Ingredients that are a gluten-containing grain
- CAN’T CONTAIN Ingredients derived from a gluten-containing grain that haven’t been processed to remove gluten
- CAN CONTAIN Ingredients derived from a gluten-containing grain that HAVE been processed to remove gluten (ex. CODEX wheat starch) if the final testing of that is less than 20ppm. If what is in the ingredient statement or “contains wheat” on FALCPA – it must also say that “the wheat has been processed to allow this food to meet the FDA requirements for gluten-free foods.”
- CAN BE LABELED GF IF IT’S Food that inherently doesn’t contain gluten
- CAN BE LABELED GF IF Any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food is less than 20ppm. I’ve had several questions from people who claim to react to gluten under 20ppm. I would recommend that they stick to certified gluten-free items from certifications organizations that certify at 10ppm or 5ppm (see below).
- HOWEVER This does not apply to hydrolyzed protein because ELISA methods cannot quantify gluten in these foods.
Where needs are not met by the ruling
- This does not apply to alcohol, medications, cosmetics, USDA foods (like meat), and pet food. Fingers crossed that medication is what’s next on FDA’s plate.
- This does not necessarily apply to restaurants, even though the FDA expects restaurants to use “gluten free” to be consistent with the FDA guidelines. They can only “expect” the restaurant industry to bring its labeling into compliance. FDA hopes to work with state and local government partners in respect to labeling in restaurants. I think this is a huge issue in our community and this should be on their radar for ASAP needs in my opinion.
- Oats are not considered a gluten-containing grain in this FDA ruling, so please be sure to look for oats that are labeled gluten-free, and the final product labeled gluten-free. However, as we probably all know, some celiacs cannot tolerate gluten-free oats regardless of their gluten-containing content.
What should I look for on the package?
“Gluten-free” is ALSO “no gluten” “free of gluten” and “without gluten” – BUT NOT “made without gluten ingredients,” or “not made with gluten-containing ingredients” or the like.
By in my opinion – just look for the seal! Just like before, make sure you look for a certified seal on your food – as its the most trustworthy (because they paid money to have someone inspect their food!). The Gluten Intolerance Group seal of GFCO is the most noteworthy in my opinion, and certifies to less than 10ppm. The Celiac Sprue Association seal certifies to 5ppm. A new certification from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness also tests for 10ppm and less.
What happens if you get sick?
Keep the food and the package in case someone has to investigate it (FDA’s Consumer Complaint Coordinators across the US).
- Use of the Consumer Complaint System and MedWatch: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049087.htm
- Report adverse events to MedWatch at1-800-FDA-1088, Mon-Fri between 8 am – 4:30 pm EST on MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting Form: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/
- Consumers and manufacturers can report any complaint such as misuse of GF claim on food labels in the state where purchased to their local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/default.htm
- Check out recalled products by the FDA: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm248864.htm
What are you most excited about? Do you think that you’ll see some real changes in grocery stores or restaurants? Do you think this regulation will make a real difference in the celiac community?