New FDA ‘gluten-free’ regulation rolls out

BY Anna Christiansen  August 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM EDT

FDA Defines Gluten-Free in Food Labeling
Starting this week, all food products marked as “gluten-free” can only make the claim if they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The alimentary safety regulation is kicking in following a law set by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013.

Gluten, a protein derived from a variety of grains, triggers antibodies to react by attacking the lining of the small intestine, inhibiting absorption of nutrients particularly for those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. There are currently no pharmaceutical options for the autoimmune digestive disease, except diet control. Ingestion of the substance, even in small amounts, may cause abdominal pain, bloating, painful gas, and diarrhea or constipation.

The tighter regulation of gluten-free products is a major milestone for people diagnosed with celiac disease, as it is “a medical necessity,” according to Beth Hillson, President of the American Celiac Disease association.

Currently, products with gluten are not required by the FDA to be labeled, as opposed to allergens like nuts and wheat. From beer to salad dressings, many staple elements of the American diet contain the protein.