Americans who live gluten free now have an official definition of ‘gluten free’. After seven years discussion, the Food and Drug Administration has finally implemented its decision last Tuesday, August 5. Here are the highlights:
1. The key number is — you guessed it — 20 parts per million gluten is the maximum allowed for manufacturers who use the terms “gluten free”, “free of gluten”, “no gluten” or “without gluten”.
2. This definition applies to foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — but not to meat, poultry and eggs, which are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) — or alcoholic beverages, which are regulated by a third agency.
3. It does not apply to restaurant meals, but the FDA states that “we expect” and “we hope” that there will be consistency. I hope so too.
4. The use of the gluten free label is optional. I’m curious to know why a manufacturer would go through the tedious process of making a gluten free product and then not labeling it.
5. I’ve been a bit sarcastic in this article but I am serious about this: remember that food labels are not prescriptions. They are designed to give us information that we need to shop intelligently and eat sensibly. How we use that information is a personal decision.