2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC1036
Submitter : Ms. Melonie George Date & Time: 09/20/2005 03:09:03
Organization : Daughter with Celiac
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
'Gluten Free' on package labeling should mean just that, 100% Gluten free, giving us, the consumers the belief and confidence that the food we are purchasing has no trace amounts of any gluten containing products and has been manufactured in a facility that does not manufacture any other products that may contain gluten. My daughters Celiac is so severe that even the smallest amount of gluten, any trace amount will shut her system down for 2 weeks. She also becomes toxic as her bowels leak from toxins that her body cannot absorb and process. Not only does the cost of her food cause a financial strain but the time and energy and advocating to the local grocery chains as to why they should carry gluten free foods becomes so frustrating. One month its OK for her to have a certain product, the next its contaminated and her 'favorite' foods are no longer available to her. I compare it to having a child that needs specific medicine that should be available and you are told is available for them to maintain good health and growth yet everytime you go to the pharmacy they either no longer carry it or the manufacturer has changed the chemical composition to where it no longer helps but harms them instead. Here on the east side of Washington state not only does the medical community have an ignorance to this disease and the ramifications from it but the grocery stores themselves do not have the appropriate foods available for proper treatment (adherence to a 100% Gluten free diet) as do bigger metropolitan areas. It took 2 yrs of trial and error testing to get my daughter diagnosed after 5 yrs of symptoms, (she is now 5yrs 8months). Albertsons has close to 0 items that are labeled Gluten free, Rosaurs used to but no longer have the variety they did, stating the need isnt that great or financially efficient, Fred Meyers is the closest to having the largest selection. Although this largest selection consists of 3 feet of 1 isle in the entire market and half of those 'gluten free' labeled foods have warning labels stating that they have been manufactured in a facility in which they may have become in contact with wheat or other gluten allergens, (always in small print in obscure places). Isnt this false labeling? Yes, I gravitate to the items that state 'gluten free' believing that the company is aware of the severity of Celiac Disease, just to read on and see that they are false advertising with the claim of being 'gluten free' all the while knowing that there product may be contaminated-but of course this is always stated in small print in an odd place on the package itself. Gluten free must be GLUTEN FREE. MANUFACTURED IN A GLUTEN FREE FACILITY. Like I said, my daughter has one of the most severe cases of Celiac Disease. It almost seems that due to inconsistant labeling I end up inadvertently poisoning my daughter by giving her food that contains glutens, not only does this cause self-guilt, but negative effects from her Dr.s. It is in my opinion that all packaging should contain possible allergens of the product in the nutrition facts labeling area stating which allergens this food may contain such s Annie's Homegrown products list on their packaging. And even perhaps some type of government 'bonus'of some type for manufacturers to cater to this obvious prevelant disease that research shows affects more than previously recognized in our population. An estimate of 1 in 133 people with a form of Celiac Disease or Gluten Allergy. What about food for those afflicted like my daughter. She was 5 yrs old before she was diagnosed. We are still unsure and undergoing tests and medical observations into just how much damage has been done to her body and her brain function as well. Like I said, for parents in my situation 'gluten free' advertising when looking at the small print contradicts the 'gluten free' actuallity of the product and feel that I have purchased a product for my daughters health that I have been 'duped' into purchasing.