Consumer News

FDA Defines Gluten-Free

New regulations set limit on amount of gluten.

The FDA has published a new regulation defining the term gluten-free on food labels.

According to the new regulation, the term gluten-free means that a food contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Below this level, only a very small number of people will suffer adverse reactions. Companies that use the term on their food labels have a year to comply with the new requirement.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods made from wheat and other related grains. People who have celiac disease cannot eat foods containing gluten because it triggers the production of antibodies that can damage the small intestine and lead to serious health problems.

Gluten-free foods have grown in popularity in recent years. According to a poll by Packaged Facts, consumers believe that gluten-free products are generally healthier, even if they don’t have celiac disease.  Whether or not this is true (there is no evidence it is), sales are booming, reaching $4.2 billion in 2012. By 2017, sales are expected to reach $6.6 billion. The FDA only cited gluten as a problem for people with celiac disease.

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