Independence Day: Gluten Freedom
Last month we celebrated Independence Day, aka the Fourth of July, marking the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. That historical document paved the way for a democracy that has given us the individual freedoms that make us proud to be Americans.
On August 5th, we celebrated another kind of independence day, freedom from gluten. That’s when the gluten free labeling rule took effect and millions of us who are seriously gluten free can be assured of our right to safe gluten free food.
For a segment of US citizens – 1 percent who have celiac disease and another 1 to 6 percent who are gluten sensitive – this is a big deal, a new freedom that has been a long time coming.
We didn’t shoulder our muskets or fight by land and by sea, but we did wage a long and hard battle in Congress and with the FDA to make them understand the importance of this labeling rule for millions of us. And, now we have it! This rule assures one medically-researched standard for all foods that say gluten free. In essence, we no longer have to be concerned that manufacturers might sell us foods that contain no gluten ingredients but may not be processed free of gluten. The gluten free labeling rule holds manufacturers accountable for making sure their gluten free products contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. With this labeling rule, those of us who need a gluten-free diet can be assured that any product saying gluten free is safe for us.
Perhaps you were on vacation over the Fourth of July and perhaps you’ll be doing other things on August 5. Like the Declaration of Independence, maybe this new freedom from gluten has already become old hat for you. (In anticipation of this moment, many manufacturers have been meeting and exceeding the less than 20 parts per million standard for several years.)
But I hope you will take a moment or two to reflect and appreciate our new found freedom, the freedom to be safely gluten free. And if you happen to have a leftover firecracker or two from the Fourth, shoot them into the air with a shout of victory. This is indeed an independence day worth celebrating.