2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC1219
Submitter : Ms. Cynthia Engels Date & Time: 09/20/2005 05:09:35
Organization : Ms. Cynthia Engels
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
1) What should "gluten-free" mean on a food label? Why? On a food label this should mean the product within should not contain grains of wheat, barley, rye or oats. It should also mean gluten free foods have not been cross-contaminated with gluten and have been prepared in a gluten free environment. I would like to see a gluten-free standard in place that would give a person with Celiac Disease or someone with an intolerance to gluten the assurance that items carrying a "gluten-free" label are 100% "gluten-free." There should be standards followed to safeguard the integrity of products marketed and sold in the United States as "gluten-free," a concept similar but stricter than the national organic standards.
2) How do you identify foods that do not contain gluten? Time spent identifying foods? I am a newly diagnosed Celiac so identifying foods that do not contain gluten has been a difficult and time consuming task. I have been in tears. I find it nearly impossible to correctly identify a gluten- free product unless it says gluten-free on the packaging or I have a glossary with me to help in my endeavor. When I am not sure whether a product is gluten-free, I call the food manufacturer. To date, I have spent a lot of time on the phone talking to the manufacturers about their products. Half of the manufacturers I have talked to are vague with regard to their definition of gluten-free. I am a single person who lives alone. I spend hours driving to and from stores to find gluten-free foods and then I spend hours while in the stores reading ingredient labels. As a newly diagnosed Celiac, I am already tired of the business of interpreting ingredient labels and calling food manufacturers to ask for gluten-free verification.
3) What percentage of foods and which types purchased are marked "gluten-free"? I would say I try to purchase at least fifty percent of the food I eat that has a gluten-free label. This makes me feel safe. I purchase gluten-free cereal; soup; salad dressings and other sauces such as barbeque, ketchup, tamari sauce and peanut sauce; corn curls; chips; hot dogs; bacon; sandwhich meat; frozen meals; waffles; Kosher foods; gluten-free flours; gluten-free pies; muffins; flavored rice dishes; pasta; spaghetti sauce; and soda, etc. I have to search for these gluten-free labels.
4)Does "gluten-free" printed on a product label influence your decision to purchase products having the same ingredients? To what extent? Heck yes my decision is greatly influenced when I am given a choice between two products with the same ingredients one of these products has a "gluten-free" label and the other doesn't. I WILL PURCHASE THE PRODUCT THAT HAS GLUTEN-FREE ON THE LABEL. I will always purchase the product that has the gluten-free label. Why?? Because with a gluten-free label I can be certain I won't be sick, bent over with cramps and running to the bathroom. I am tired of referring to "The CSA Gluten-Free Product Listing" binder or calling food manufacturers to check what foods I can eat. I can exercise control by purchasing foods labeled "gluten-free." Only people with Celiac Disease or people with an extreme food intolerance can identify with this basic right to be healthy. We should be able to quickly identify foods that are safe to eat. If you have Celiac Disease you can understand how sick you can become when gluten is eaten. As is the case with many people, it takes just trace amounts of gluten in their system to get deathly ill.