The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized the definition of the term “gluten-free” on food labels, which means all manufacturers that want to use that phrase on their products must adhere to strict guidelines.
As stated by the FDA, the term gluten-free now refers to foods that are either inherently gluten-free or foods that do not contain any ingredient that is:
- A gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat)
- Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour)
- Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food
Additionally, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.
The ruling benefits more than three million Americans who live with celiac disease, an immune reaction to gluten that damages the lining of the small intestine.
The gluten-free ruling applies to all FDA-regulated foods and dietary supplements, but excludes foods whose labeling is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Manufacturers have one year to make package labels compliant.