FDA’s New Labelling May Harm Celiacs

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States is in the process of re-defining what it means for a food to be gluten-free. Peter and Gillian Olins have written an excellent summary which can be found here.

There are two key points which I find extremely alarming:

  1. The FDA has developed an internal report which recommends a “Tolerable Daily Intake” as 0.4 mg “gluten”, which corresponds to a gluten concentration of 1 ppm.
  2. This is in sharp contrast to the proposed 20 ppm FDA standard for labeling a food as “gluten-free”.

Although I do not live in the United States, I often purchase products from there, and I know that many grocery items are imported from there. I encourage all people who follow a gluten-free diet to read this article.


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  1. #1 by Peter Olins on August 25, 2011 - 9:51 am

    Hi K.
    Our intent was not to alarm, but to encourage people to think about this topic, and to discuss it. The FDA safety report was only released a few weeks ago, and the open comment period ends on October 3.

    There is no simple solution for how best to label for gluten content, since many scientific, social and business factors need to be balanced. In addition, should labeling be geared to those who believe in GF weight-loss, those who are sensitive without celiac, those who are celac, or those celiacs who are extremely sensitive?

    We would love to hear your experiences regarding GF labeling in Canada, too.

    Thanks, P.

    • #2 by glutenfree4hfx on August 26, 2011 - 2:52 pm

      Hi Peter: Thanks for the reply! I personally found your article very enlightening and educational. Although I don’t agree with the FDA’s proposal I am glad they are seeking insight.

      I feel that if a food is marked “free” of something then it should indeed be 99.9% free of that ingredient. People with peanut allergies and vegans have this reassurance, so why not those desiring gluten-free food? For other products, a low gluten designation or a percent per serving indicator might be more useful.

      Here in Canada, our food regulatory folks are focusing on ingredient listing rather than labels. (See https://glutenpunishment.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/stricter-canadian-food-label-rules-have-passed/.) We are seeing wheat and other allergens listed more frequently and more clearly – which is unfortunate because it eliminates more products, but it also gives consumers better information.

      Thanks again for the enlightening look. I am curious to see how this plays out!


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