On Friday, August 2, 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a new regulation establishing standards for when a food product can claim to be “gluten-free.” According to the final rule, food bearing a “gluten-free” label, as well as foods claiming “no gluten,” “free of gluten” or “without gluten,” must not contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten.
Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, rye, barley, and various hybrids of those grains. According to the FDA the new rule will ensure uniformity in food product labeling and provide the approximately three million Americans who suffer from celiac disease the opportunity to make informed food purchasing decisions. Foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine in people with celiac disease, which can lead to very serious health conditions. Thus, people with celiac disease must maintain a strictly gluten-free diet.
Food manufacturers will have until August 2014 to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.