Celiac Awareness Month
October is Celiac Awareness Month.
An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune digestive disorder that damages the small intestine.
Celiac disease is triggered by consumption of a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and crossbreeds of these grains. Gluten gives breads and other grain products (such as cakes, cereals, and pastas) their shape, strength, and texture.
For those suffering from celiac disease (or choosing/preparing food for someone who does), identifying gluten-free food is critical.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulation that standardized what “gluten-free” means on food labels. This ensures that gluten-free claims on food products are consistent and reliable across the food industry.
Learn more at: FDA New Gluten Free Labeling Requirements
Understanding Gluten-Free Labeling
FDA defined the terms “Gluten-free,” “No gluten,” “Free of gluten,” and “Without gluten.” Foods bearing any of these terms have to meet the requirements of the gluten-free regulation. Foods bearing a gluten-free claim must, among other things, contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods using scientifically validated analytical methods.
Products Covered by the Gluten-Free Regulation
FDA’s regulation applies to all foods and beverages (including packaged foods, dietary supplements, fruits, vegetables, shell eggs, and fish) except for:
- Meat, poultry, and certain egg products
- Most alcoholic beverages
Gluten-Free When Eating Out
Given the public health significance of gluten-free labeling, FDA continues to encourage the restaurant industry to ensure that its use of gluten-free labeling is consistent with the federal definition.
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