After years of investigation, the FDA released new regulations on the labeling of gluten free foods aimed at assisting consumers with Celiac disease on Friday.
Celiac is an inherited autoimmune disease in which proper diet is crucial. According to the FDA over 3 million Americans are affected by Celiac disease.
Gluten directly affects the health of the Celiac patient. It is impossible for them to digest it properly. This protein occurs naturally in wheat, rye and barley and if ingested it will cause their bodies to produce antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. This damage can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, shorten stature due to nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriages, and intestinal cancers.
The new FDA standards require that in order to use the term "gluten-free" on foods, a food must contain less than 20 parts-per-million (ppm) of gluten. Foods currently labeled "no gluten," "free of gluten" and "without gluten" will also have to meet this definition. Many foods currently labeled meet the guidelines for gluten free food but manufacturers will have one year to correct the labeling of incorrect foods.
"Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating Celiac disease, which can be very disruptive to everyday life," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, said in a statement. "The FDA's new 'gluten-free' definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health.
The FDA has published a full copy the new regulations on its website.