Gluten-Free Labeling Rule Goes Into Effect

Gluten Free LabelThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a new ruling on the labeling of all gluten-free foods. Foods labeled gluten-free must meet all requirements of the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule published in August 2013. The requirements apply to packaged foods labeled on or after August 5, 2014.

The compliance date was established one year ago to allow the food industry sufficient time to make the needed changes in the formulation or labeling of their gluten-free foods. This new rule provides a uniform standard definition to help consumers with celiac disease manage a gluten-free diet.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition, gluten-free foods must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten. Foods may be labeled “gluten-free” if they are naturally gluten free; or do not contain an ingredient that is:

  1. A gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat)

  2. Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or

  3. Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 ppm or more gluten in the food.

On June 25, 2014, the FDA issued a guide for small food businesses to help them comply with the new gluten-free food labeling requirements. Outreach will be conducted to assist the industry, as needed, to ensure that the provisions of the rule are fully understood. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will use its existing compliance and enforcement tools, such as inspection, laboratory analysis, warning letters, seizure, and injunction, to ensure that “gluten-free” claim on food packages complies with the standard definition.

While the rule only applies to packaged foods, given the recent public health significance of gluten-free labeling, the FDA urges restaurants and other establishments making a gluten-free claim on their menus to be consistent with agency’s labeling requirements.

(Source: Institute of Food Technology)