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Gluten free commentary: FDA defines gluten free

fda-logoI’m so late on this but in case you haven’t heard, back in August the FDA released a statement announcing that they have officially created a standardized definition of gluten free as it pertains to food labeling.

According to the FDA which by the way is  a federal executive department is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), and veterinary products.

In order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free. Food manufacturers will have a year after the rule is published to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

So what does this all mean for us celiac and gluten intolerant? Well, it’s nice that the FDA is trying to hold food processors accountable for their labeling and creating a standardized guideline for processed foods. Still as consumers we have to remain vigilant in  our own checking and rechecking of labels, production methods, and standards that manufacturers use when creating gluten free products. This year alone we’ve seen many major brands and chains offering gluten free products including Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Pillsbury. When it comes to the world of processed foods deception is the perception and we would be foolish to blindly think that a new guideline will automatically make everything safe. Just because a product says it is gluten free does not mean that it is. You (we) should always check labels. If you find something that looks odd or may be a potential source of hidden gluten call, write, contact the manufacturer. In many cases we are the experts. If your gut tells you not to eat something; Don’t. Many questions arise when examining whether a gluten free labeled product is safe for consumption:

Just recently Bob’s Red Mill did a recall on their sweet sorghum flour due to a discrepancy between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency finding that samples of the flour contained over 32 parts per million and the tests that Bob’s did found that it was below 20 parts per million. Bob’s was very open about their double testing of said sample but based on reactions from the community and concerned consumers they voluntarily recalled the flour. In this instance whose testing was correct? How many products remain on the market? Will they remain off the market indefinitely? You see how tricky this can get?

I swear by Bob’s Red Mill and in the world of food processing and testing mistakes happen. I understand this but my point is that even brands with the best intentions and transparency make mistakes. We must be our own advocates of our health and cannot rely on the FDA or any other agency or any label to ensure our own safety. Many times recalls, standards, and guidelines are determined not with the consumer in mind but money, power and politics. The truth is not always pretty. But it is what it is.

Eating more whole real foods that you can easily trace the source of production from farm to table is one way to ensure optimal food safety for you and your family. Standards by the FDA and USDA are good and all but in the grand scheme of the matrix such standards do not always mean a whole lot. For instance what happens to standards and governance when the government is shut down? You see what I mean?

To learn more about the FDA’s new gluten free labeling click here

and to learn more about the viles and corruption of the processed food industry check out the following books:

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