Finally, "Gluten Free" is now legally defined

Gluten Free Rice Krispies

Whether you need to shop for a gluten-intolerant diet or not, it's impossible to avoid seeing that label in grocery stores - it's become omnipresent. However,  many people may not have realized that, until now, there have been no official requirements to back up a "gluten-free" label.

Congress asked the FDA nine years ago to define the concept and gave them a deadline that expired five years ago. So what was the problem? According to the Washington Post,  "Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the FDA took an "excruciating" amount of time to finalize its gluten-free definition in part because it had to consider a massive amount of research on celiac disease as well as varying opinions from activists who wanted even more stringent standards and industry officials who argued for more lenient requirements. In the end, he said, the agency struck the right balance."

So what is "gluten free"? According to the FDA in its official definition:

  • The unavoidable presence of gluten must be less than 20 ppm (parts-per-million)
  • Does not contain an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  • Does not contain an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten
  • Foods such as bottled spring water, fruits and vegetables, and eggs can also be labeled "gluten-free" if they inherently don't have any gluten.

According to the FDA, approximately 5 percent of food products marketed today as "gluten-free" do not meet these specifications. They've given manufacturers one year to bring their labels into compliance.

And for those who do need to follow a gluten-free diet and are looking for inspiration, here's a list of over 170 gluten-free cookbooks that our members own.

Photo courtesy of Milst1 on Flickr



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