FDA Seeks to Define “Gluten-Free”
Products claiming to be “gluten-free” are popping up on grocery shelves everywhere, and now the FDA wants to finalize a standard definition of what that term means. In reopening a public-comment period on “gluten-free” labeling rules, the agency emphasized the dangers of gluten — proteins found in wheat and other grains — for people suffering celiac disease, who have health-threatening reactions to gluten. Some popular diets have also promoted gluten-free eating for weight loss. But Rhonda Kane, RD, a consumer safety officer at the FDA, says, “Eating gluten-free is not meant to be a diet craze. It’s a medical necessity for those who have celiac disease.” In revisiting its labeling rule, originally proposed in 2007, the agency aims to make sure celiac sufferers can count on “gluten-free” products to be safe; after the comment period, the FDA will issue a final rule on labeling for foods as well as dietary supplements.