FDA Sets New Guidelines for Gluten Free Labeling

BAY COUNTY-- The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on products that claim they're "gluten-free".

As of August 5, 2014, the claim can only be made on foods containing less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

The new regulations are important for consumers who suffer from celiac disease and don't absorb nutrients as well.

Austin Hairfield has been gluten free for a few months.

"I started shopping gluten free when I started dating my girlfriend and realized that she actually has a diagnosed gluten allergy. So she has celiac," said Hairfield.

He says grocery shopping takes much longer now.

"You kind of get in the nitty gritty of, again, going ingredient by ingredient and that, again, can take awhile until you're familiar with what these really long complex ingredients are."

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration announced strict guidelines for "gluten-free" packaging.

But the administration gave manufacturers until August 5, 2014, to make the switch.

"So this is one of the products that doesn't really say 'gluten-free' but you have to look to make sure it doesn't have any glutenous ingredients."

The standard will ensure "gluten-free" really does mean "gluten-free".
Those products are crucial to those who have celiac disease.
The disease affects 1 percent of the population, but is one of the world's most prevalent genetic auto-immune conditions.

It's a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.

Gluten, a type of protein often found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats, can trigger that symptom.

The new regulation makes sure companies can't label products "gluten-free" if they are cross-contaminated from other products in the same facility.

"The difference in how many particles of glutinous material is in them can actually be the difference in getting sick after a nice dinner and not."

Food packaging that fails to meet the requirements "will be subject to regulatory action."

The new regulations don't apply to restaurants, but the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging them to comply.