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What does “gluten-free” on a label mean?

Posted on April 13th, 2010 by Alison Read 7 Comments - Add Your Own »

fdaThe FDA is asking for our help to define what a “gluten-free” label on a food product should mean. Currently there is no regulation pertaining to the use of the term “gluten-free” on a label. It is used voluntarily by food manufacturers without laws about the amount of gluten allowable or what kind of testing should be conducted to verify the gluten content.

Some companies do voluntarily test their products for gluten, and the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) performs such testing to ensure that gluten levels are at the lowest levels possible based on the technology available, at less than 10 parts per million.

The FDA has proposed that a product would be considered gluten-free if the gluten content is less than 20 parts per million. They have not decided exactly on the language that will be used.

Now is your chance to give your input! The FDA is conducting a survey about people’s eating and grocery shopping habits with regards to gluten-free foods. Perhaps your answers can help shape the upcoming regulation.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is interested in knowing how consumers understand gluten-free food labels. Your responses will help FDA make sure that gluten-free food labels are clear and informative.”

To take the survey: UPDATE 4/16/10: The survey is closed already! Here is the message that GIG received from the FDA: “Thank you very much for getting the word out about the FDA gluten-free survey. The response has been overwhelming and we have met our quota in just a few days. The survey will shut down in a few hours but in the meantime, those who try to respond may receive a “not qualified” message. I apologize for that.”

The survey is a little long, and the questions are very specific. The questions pertain to people with celiac disease, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and people who shop for people that are on a gluten-free diet. I will be interested to know how this all turns out!

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  1. Thanks for the survey! I just completed it, I personally hope they are pretty strict with the gluten labeling. I also wanted to thank you for your website, my son suffers from food allergies and I have celiac disease, so your website is very helpful for our family!

  2. Your welcome Stephanie — sounds like your family probably eats a lot like mine! It will be interesting to see what happens with the gluten-free labeling… will less companies have gluten-free on their labels or more?

  3. Alison,

    Just wanted to thank you for this site. My two-year old son has a gluten allergy and I am just now researching the gluten/thyroid connection, which led me to your site. I appreciate all the info here! I’ve decided to eliminate gluten for three months and see how it effects me. This site will help in what could otherwise be a daunting task!

  4. Courtney,
    Let me know if there is anything you need that you can’t find on this site — glad you found it and I hope it helps! Good luck with the diet and with your son.

  5. I answered a few questions on the survey reflecting my diagnosis of celiac disease and gluten-free diet then was told I didn’t qualify for the survey. I’m not sure what I did wrong.

  6. Terry,
    I’m not sure — are you 18 or over?

  7. Terry and anyone else who tries to do the survey,
    Apparently, the FDA got their quota of responses and have already ended the survey. I guess we are quite a responsive community! It seems silly that they would shut it down — why not have even more surveys to work from?