On August 4, 2021, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) reintroduced the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 (FLMA) to the House and the Senate. This bill is extremely significant for those living with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity as it requires all manufacturers to disclose any gluten-containing grains on their labels.
If this bill passes it will be a huge win for the millions of Americans on a medically necessary gluten-free diet. “Because the gluten-free diet is the only currently available treatment for people with celiac disease, removing barriers to identifying gluten in foods and beverages is an important step to helping them live healthier, less stressful lives,” said Salvatore Alesci, MD, Beyond Celiac chief scientist and strategy officer. “Research has shown that not only is the gluten-free diet difficult to follow due to cross-contact and lack of labeling clarity but that it can have a negative psychological impact on those needing to live gluten-free.”
Currently, wheat is the only gluten-containing grain that is required to be disclosed on food and beverage labels. If the legislation passes, barley and rye ingredients would also need to be listed. Because barley and rye ingredients may be included in ingredients such as malt, yeast, and flavorings, but not always, people with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders may be at a loss to know if they can safely consume that item. This bill would amend the FALPCA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) requiring that all gluten-containing grains (including barley and rye) be disclosed on food product packaging. This would greatly reduce the guesswork currently required for people to safely eat gluten-free.
For example, currently, a label may state “natural smoke flavor” in its ingredients. This bill would require that if wheat, barley or rye are used anywhere in that ingredient, they would then need to be called out on the label. Foods labeled gluten-free currently require compliance with a gluten content of less than 20 parts per million. That requirement would not be affected by the passage of the FLMA.
“Labeling laws have come a long way since I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, however, we still have a long way to go. The passage of the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 would be a huge step forward in helping those on a gluten-free diet eat safely and without fear. It gives the gluten-free consumer the power of knowledge. We at Beyond Celiac fully support this bill and are grateful for the work of Congressmen Pallone and Blumenthal, along with the work of my staff and the many celiac disease organization along with Gluten-Free Watchdog and everyone else who have come together to help get these bills on the floor,” said Alice Bast, CEO of Beyond Celiac.
Beyond Celiac supports the Food Labeling Modernization Act (H.R 4917/S. 2594) and encourages everyone in our community to contact their representatives and senators to urge them to support it as well.
Those wishing to get involved can copy and paste the following sample letter and share with your representatives. Adding personal stories and experiences is also encouraged:
We need your support for a new bill that requires that products disclose gluten-containing grains on labels.
Congressman Pallone and Senator Blumenthal have reintroduced an important Bill into the House and the Senate: The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 (FLMA). The FLMA is a comprehensive effort to address numerous food labeling issues and includes amending FALPCA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) to require that food product packaging must disclose gluten-containing grains.
This Bill amends FALPCA. If an FDA-regulated food product includes a gluten-containing grain, this must be disclosed in the ingredients list or separate Contains statement – just like for wheat and the other major allergens. This would be required regardless of whether the food was labeled gluten-free.
Thank you for your support of H.R 4917/S. 2594.