Web Only ArticleMay 3, 2012

Celiac Bill of Rights

Three million Americans have celiac disease and an estimated 18 to 20 million more are gluten sensitive. To serve this growing population, gluten-free prepared products are popping up on grocery store shelves in record numbers. This year, sales of gluten-free products are expected to reach $2.5 billion. According to one research group, the gluten-free market will exceed $5 billion in sales by 2015.

All this activity makes the gluten-free label a popular marketing buzzword. The good news is that gluten-free consumers have more choices than ever before. But are these products truly safe?

In the absence of federal labeling regulations, manufacturers can jump on the gluten-free bandwagon without understanding (and addressing) the medical implications of cross contamination. Ingredients may be sourced from plants that don’t adequately scrub their lines or double-check their manufacturing processes.

Living Without magazine believes that safe food products are the right of every American who is living with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Gluten-free consumers should be able to:

■  Rely on manufacturers to produce food products that are safe from gluten contamination.

■  Rely on the federal government to provide uniform standards and regulations for labeling gluten-free foods, beverages, medications and personal care products.

■  Rely on food companies to accurately label all product ingredients.

■  Rely on restaurants to provide accurate information about menu items and food preparation.

■  Rely on grocery stores to regularly stock gluten-free products that are manufactured using safe practices.

■  Rely on the airlines, buses and trains to provide accommodation for gluten-free travelers.  

■  Rely on schools and colleges to accommodate students with special dietary needs.

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