Gluten-Free Food Labeling
Beyond Celiac actively worked to secure regulations that define the requirements for food companies manufacturing packaged products that make a gluten-free label claim. In 2005,Beyond Celiac submitted a letter that reinforced the following three basic principles be conditions that be required to ensure that new food labeling is effective as it relates to the gluten content of various food products:
- Scientifically sound testing procedures for gluten must be developed and required
- Scientifically-based standards for gluten-free foods must be created and implemented
- A definition for a gluten-free diet must be developed
Beyond Celiac added information about food labeling to its website informing the community of the issues related to this field and reporting on actions taken by the FDA, including the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004. In 2007, Beyond Celiac submitted a statement in response to FDA Docket Number 2005N-0279, endorsing clear and unambiguous labeling as essential in identifying products that contain gluten or, conversely, those that are gluten-free to be sure that gluten-free consumers eat safely. This statement endorsed the 20 parts per million (ppm)standard based on the study by Alessio Fasano, MD, and also recommended that the FDA continue to fund ongoing studies to assure that the less than 20 ppm threshold is the correct standard. Further, the statement addressed the importance of labeling oats as an ingredient and recommended research to identify the population affected by oats and the related impact. Representing Beyond Celiac, Alice Bast joined the Alliance for a Stronger FDA and became a member of the FDA Panel on Food Labeling.
In 2011, Beyond Celiac participated in an event entitled ‘1 in 133’ in Washington, DC designed to call attention to the FDA’s delay in finalizing standards for gluten-free food labeling. This daylong program included calling on representatives on Capitol Hill and a reception attended by legislators and FDA representatives and the organization participated in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association) teleseminar “FDA’s Gluten-Free Rulemaking: Implications for Your Clients with Celiac Disease. The following year, Beyond Celiac participated in a successful ‘We the People’ program to garner signatures for a petition to the White House (WhiteHouse.gov) emphasizing the need for FDA action on the gluten-free food labeling ruling.
When the FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Rule was finalized, Beyond Celiac provided substantial education of consumers, healthcare providers and the food industry itself, including two free webinars about the landmark ruling.