As we head into the final months before the law’s final compliance date, I thought I’d highlight a few other key points about this brand new law:
1. No symbols needed. The law does not require or recommend manufacturers use any particular symbol or food label, but if a label should include any of the following phrases, compliance must be ensured:
• “Free of gluten”
• “No gluten”
• “Without gluten”
2. It’s voluntary. A manufacturer may produce gluten-free foods, but just choose not to label them as such.
3. “Gluten-free” does not mean “zero gluten”. The new law defines "gluten-free" to mean that a food contains less than 20 parts per million (20 ppm) of gluten. (This tiny amount can be visualized as less than a tenth of a grain of salt on a slice of bread, and is acceptable as the standard for people with celiac disease).
4. As with any rule, there are exceptions. Although the FDA’s new regulation applies to all foods and beverages (including packaged foods, dietary supplements, fruits and vegetables, shelled eggs, and fish), there are a few notable exemptions.
Remember, celiac disease affects an estimated 1/100 people worldwide, and it’s estimated that there are about 3 million people living with this disease in the U.S. alone. If you want to read more about celiac disease itself, I’d recommend you start with this blog about celiac by my colleague Dr. Karlee Ausk. If you have more questions about the law itself, you may find this resource helpful.