Going Gluten-FreeAugust 17, 2011

Gluten-Free Labeling

Comments (6)

Posted by Alicia Woodward

Do you want to comment on FDA’s proposal on gluten-free labeling but you’re not sure exactly how to frame your message or even where to send it? Here’s help. The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) and the other folks behind the 1in133 event (when the tallest gluten-free cake was unveiled last May in DC) have written a community letter that you can sign.

It’s easy. Go to http://1in133.org/proposal for the letter and fill out the quick form provided. Then click on “Submit.” That’s it.

Basically, ACDA’s letter supports FDA’s proposal that gluten-free standards be based on less than 20 ppm gluten content. In other words, if a product contains <20 ppm gluten, it can rightfully be labeled “gluten free.”

This <20 ppm has been adopted for use throughout the European Union via the Codex Alimentarius. Research conducted by Dr. Carlo Catassi and colleagues at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research has indicated that <20 ppm standard is safe for most individuals with celiac disease.

Leading medical expert Dr. Stefano Guandalini, medical director of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago, shares his expert analysis of the standard at http://1in133.org/proposal/resources/assessment.

If you’ve got questions about all this (and who doesn’t?), this FAQ link is helpful: http://1in133.org/info/Labeling-Resources.php#FAQ.

Thanks for taking the time to make your views known on this very important topic.

Go gluten free!!

Comments (6)

I found the pizza crust recipe I wanted but it never told the temperature for the oven or how long to cook it.

Posted by: Melinda | August 30, 2011 7:40 PM    Report this comment

I have not been able to find a literature citation by Catassi stating that 20 ppm is safe for most indiduals. However, their 2007 paper in AJCN describes " a clear worsening of the intestinal architecture" in multiple patients at the lowest dose (10 mg/day). They caution:
"Because of the limited number of patients, we were not able to reach firm conclusions about the potential toxicity of 10 mg gluten/d[ay], which remained a "gray" area."

In any case, data from 12 patients is hardly enough to extrapolate to the millions of celiacs in the US.

A more detailed analysis can be found at the Ultimate Gluten Free website.

I think that this topic is not so black or white as some may believe, and deserves a much wider public dialog.

Posted by: Peter O | August 20, 2011 8:22 AM    Report this comment

I agree with the above statements. I have always said that 1 gram of gluten will make me sick. All products labelled gluten-free SHOULD be GF.

Posted by: Ronda M | August 18, 2011 4:46 PM    Report this comment

With all the confusion with what is safe and not safe for a celiac or gluten sensitive person, I am personally against the 20ppm rule on labeling. Especially as the digestive system is healing, it is paramount to avoid gluten in any amount and nourish the system with the foods necessary to begin the healing process. Also, often times celiac disease goes hand in hand with secondary food sensitivities. Misleading labeling of products could lead one to believe that there are other foods they need to avoid, when it could be the 20ppm of gluten still causing the reaction.

Posted by: goglutenfreegracefully | August 18, 2011 3:27 PM    Report this comment

I agree with the comment posted by Michelle T.

I also make a point of telling my patients and clients that there is no such thing as a gluten free corn or oat. The gluten isn't identical to wheat gluten but these grains can also activate the wheat gluten receptors in some cases. In studies I have read about 1/2 the gluten sensitive people also reacted to corn. I know I can't eat corn or oats without a gluten-type reaction.

It would be nice if gluten free on the label actually meant gluten free.

Posted by: Daniel S | August 18, 2011 10:58 AM    Report this comment

I understand that the standard of 20ppm or less of gluten is considered safe and acceptable. However... I recently bought a box of Barbara's "gluten-free" cereal and neglected to read all of the fine print like I normally do, probably because I trusted the brand. The fine print does say that it contains 20ppm or less of gluten. I took a risk, ate the stuff, and got very sick. A week later, I tried it one more time to be sure, and got sick again.

So... what that tells me is that 20ppm or less is still dangerous for some of us. And what it also tells me, once again, is that "gluten-free" on a label is not a guarantee of safety. To me, GF should actually mean GF. But some companies simply do not have dedicated factories and so some cross contamination is allowed. And that is unfortunate.

The bottom line is, buyer beware. It would be helpful if the fine print about how much gluten might actually be in a GF product was actually larger and easier to find. If they are not going to change the 20ppm standard (and I'm sure that will never happen), then we celiacs need to be warned in a clearer fashion. It angers me that Barbara's can splash "Gluten Free!!" all over their label, when in fact it is a lie, and I got sick twice from their product.

Consumers should not have to search so hard for the truth on a label.

Posted by: Michelle T | August 18, 2011 9:55 AM    Report this comment

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