As of Tuesday, Aug. 5, gluten-free foods must really, really be gluten-free.
A new Food and Drug Administration rule that took effect yesterday states that any food labeled gluten-free must now contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten (which is found in wheat, rye and barley).
That amount is generally recognized by the medical community as being low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won't get sick if they eat it. (As well as all of those with “gluten sensitivity.”)
Until now, the term “gluten-free” was not regulated on food packaging and thus meant absolutely nothing at all. For example, wheat must be labeled on food packages, but barley and rye are often hidden ingredients.
The new standard also means that companies can't label products “gluten-free” if they are cross-contaminated from other products made in the same manufacturing facility. (Restaurants are exempted from this rule, but the FDA is “encouraging them to comply.”)
Celiac disease can cause serious, long-term medical problems and people with it must avoid even tiny traces of gluten. It is a diagnosed illness that is much more severe than gluten sensitivity, which Is often
all in your head self-diagnosed.
Gluten-free foods have become big business in the last several years. Mainstream supermarkets are stocked with gluten-free pasta, bread, cereal and cookies. Dominos even came out with a pizza with a gluten-free crust a couple of years ago.
See also: 10 Best Gluten-Free Pizzas in L.A.
Steve Hughes, CEO of Boulder Brands, which owns leading gluten-free food companies Glutino and Udi's, told the Associated Press that his company's products all have 10 parts per million of gluten, less than the new standard. He praises the new FDA regulations for strengthening the integrity of the gluten-free market.
“If consumers can't have confidence in the products long-term, it's going to hurt the overall trend,” he said.
Did he just call gluten-free a “trend”? Sacre bleu!