The U.S. Food and Drug Administration set a final standard on Friday to clearly define what the term "gluten-free" means on food labels.
The new regulation is targeted to help the estimated 3 million Americans who have celiac disease, a chronic inflammatory auto-immune disorder that can affect the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and crossbreeds of these grassy grains.
“Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating celiac disease, which can be very disruptive to everyday life,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, in the release. “The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health."
The FDA outlined products that comply with the new "gluten-free" labeling rule as:
Manufacturers will have until August 5, 2014, to update their labels in compliance with the new requirements. Foods labeled as "without gluten," "free of gluten" or "no gluten" will also be held to the same standard.
“We encourage the food industry to come into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible and help us make it as easy as possible for people with celiac disease to identify foods that meet the federal definition of ‘gluten-free,’” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in the release.
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