Celiac disease is a legitimate medical concern for a number of Americans, for which the only treatment is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. Because of this and the increase of food allergies in general, it’s key that foods are clearly and properly labeled to ensure everyone’s safety and good health.
The FDA’s Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 addresses this need and calls for a rule that defines the term “gluten-free” for food labels. The rule surrounding this term has not yet been finalized, thus the proposed rule remains open for comment, and comment we did!
The proposed guidance suggests that any grain foods containing gluten (wheat, rye and barley and their relatives) should be referred to as “prohibited grains.” We responded to this proposal because we feel this is a loaded and negative classification of these particular grain foods, foods that are the building blocks of a healthful diet for the majority of Americans. Please keep in mind that this term only refers to labeling gluten-free foods, not all grain products.
In response to the proposed rule, we joined with other members of the industry to submit a letter to the FDA offering the alternative term “gluten-containing grains.” We believe this term more accurately reflects the fact a product contains gluten, but also doesn’t mischaracterize the nutritional value.
Thanks to all members who supported our efforts. We’re committed to staying on top of this issue and will continue to educate the public about the proper use of the gluten-free diet.