News Feature | January 2, 2014

"Gluten-Free" To Become A Regulated Term

By Alec Italiano, contributing writer

FALCPA law will require FDA approved food to have appropriate label by August 2014

For people on a gluten-free diet, going to the grocery store will become a lot easier after Aug. 5, 2014 when food manufacturers will be required to label products that are gluten-free. This decision came from the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) passed in 2006.

The original law included a proposed rule urging manufacturers to voluntarily use the
gluten-free” label. The law also stated that a mandatory decision would be made no later than 2008.  Six years later, people with celiac disease will be able to find the gluten-free label on foods containing up to 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.  Anything more than 20 ppm is considered misbranding, making that product subject to a recall.

According the FDA website Celiac disease affects around 2 million people in the U.S. (about 1 in 133). Celiac is an autoimmune disease which can only be managed by eating gluten-free food. Gluten is the protein found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and any similar hybrid grains. When people with celiac disease digest gluten, antibodies are activated to attack the gluten and damage the lining of the small intestine as a result.

The FDA also requires the words “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” subject to the same standard as “gluten-free.”  Identifying food with gluten should not be an issue for manufacturers; it just needs to be properly identified on the label and separated during the packaging process.

FALCPA only applies to packaged food that falls subject to FDA approval.  There are some exceptions as this extends to retail and food-service establishments that package and label food – any food made from a consumer’s order (such as the paper or box used to wrap a sandwich for example) will not be required to label the food as gluten-free. The law was originally passed to help people with allergies to properly identify ingredients that may cause a reaction.

Want to publish your opinion?
Contact us to become part of our Editorial Community.