The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is reopening the comment period for the proposed rule on the gluten-free labeling of foods.
The proposed rule, originally published in the Federal Register in January 2007, aimed to define the term "gluten- free'' for voluntary use in the labeling of foods free of wheat, rye, barley or any crossbred hybrid of gluten-containing grains.
Shared equipment and storage are two of the most common sources of contamination by glutinous grains. These hidden gluten traces can be devastating to anyone suffering from celiac sprue—the most sensitive gluten allergy. Current industry standards set allowable limits of gluten in gluten-free labeled items at 20 parts per million. The FDA, which also announced in the proposed rule that they intend to conduct a safety assessment for gluten exposure, is also seeking public comments on the safety assessment and its potential use in defining the term "gluten-free'' in the final rule.
Earlier this year, the leading organic certifier, Quality Assurance International (QAI), and the healthcare nonprofit, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), launched a gluten-free third party certification to help the estimated 17 million families who are reported to shop for gluten-free foods on a regular basis. But concerns still linger around the allowable levels of gluten and whether products containing any traces of gluten should be considered "gluten-free" or perhaps earn another designation such as "low-gluten."
Consumers wishing to make comments for the FDA's ruling are due by October 3, and can be submitted here.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger