2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC218
Submitter : Ms. CHERIE JOHNSON Date & Time: 08/29/2005 11:08:35
Organization : Ms. CHERIE JOHNSON
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
GENERAL
GENERAL
The following are my comments. Three people in my family, including myself, have Celiac Disease. Shopping and dining out are challenging. The new labeling requirements identifying the main allergens still do not provide the information that we need, as wheat is not the only grain that contains gluten - even with the labeling, I have seen wheat starch in a product not listing wheat as an ingredient.

Gluten free on a label should mean that all ingredients have been analyzed to determine if there is gluten - including the "sub" products, such as modified food starch, carmel coloring, natural flavors and other spices.

We spend a significant time at the grocery store examining ingredient listings. We have purchased material listing which products have been deemed gluten free by manufacturers, but the real danger exists that the product ingredients are changed without our knowledge. Another EXTREMELY helpful piece to the gluten free standards and labeling is dining out - if manufacturers understood what a growing segment of the population needs this information and it was included, it would be much easier for chefs to assist celiacs make healthy decisions.

Unfortunately, it is not that common to find foods that are actually labeled "gluten free" in the typical grocery store. However, when I do find them I am inclined to purchase them (even if I don't necessarily need the product) under the belief that the manufacturer understands what it takes to declare an item gluten free. It would be incredible to have standards for labeling an item "gluten free" so that we don't feel the need to read the ingredient listing as well.

I would ABSOLUTELY purchase the gluten free item! There are so many potential hidden contaminations that it would give great peace of mind to know that all "sub ingredients" were researched. Reading ingredient listings is frustrating because there is no way for the consumer to tell if gluten is hidden in modified food starch (unless appropriately listed), carmel coloring, other natural flavorings, other spices, etc. I believe that if food manufacturers understood the sales they were missing by not providing the information, they would have the incentive to start the research and labeling.

Labeling gluten free products with varying degress could be beneficial. As with all diseases, research goes on and some believe there is a level of gluten that can be tolerated and some are willing to take a chance with potential cross contamination. However, it would have to be manageable for the manufacturers so that it doesn't become too complicated and no one wants to play.

Thank you - you have no idea how important this is to so many of us. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have this disease before ingredients were listed on products and I hope that when my 14 year old daughter is my age, she will be just as thankful for the changes she has seen in food labeling requirements.

Thank you.