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FDA issues new standard for labeling gluten-free food products

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a new regulation, under which products labeled gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

The regulation has been issued in order to provide a uniform standard definition to help Americans who have celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that can be managed only by eating a gluten free diet.

FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating celiac disease.

"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," Hamburg added.

The new federal definition, which standardizes the meaning of ‘gluten-free’ claims across the food industry, requires that a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, in order to use the term gluten-free on its label.

To meet the definition for ‘gluten-free’, the rule also requires foods with the claims ‘no gluten,’ ‘free of gluten’ and ‘without gluten.’

FDA foods and veterinary medicine deputy commissioner Michael Taylor said, "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."