2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC1447
Submitter : Mrs. Jean Turpin Date & Time: 09/20/2005 06:09:22
Organization : Mrs. Jean Turpin
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
The term gluten-free on a food label should indicate that the item does not contain any of the proteins from the grains that may cause harm to a celiac disease patient. In addition, any food item labeled in this manner should also not be manufactured in a facility where cross-contamination can happen (i.e. gluten-free corn chips made on the same equipment as a flour-based chip).

While this may not be the technically correct definition of gluten free as desired by the food product industry, it makes little sense to have a label that has no practical use. Due to various past intestinal reactions to gluten-free labeled items, I suspect that the term is loosely used by the food industry. To label a food as gluten-free should mean that there are absolutely no substances (as ingredients; through cross-contamination; or as a result of processing) that would affect someone diagnosed with celiac disease. Anything less would be misleading and could affect my health.

A large portion of my time grocery shopping is spent in verifying that foods purchased do not contain gluten. This is time consuming and very frustrating since many foods contain hidden sources of gluten. Even though a specific gluten source is not listed on the label, I cannot purchase items made with natural flavorings, as these routinely contain gluten. To compound the issue, once I have identified a food as gluten-free, I must continue to verify that the ingredient list has not changed to include any items which may cause me health problems. The development of a meaningful gluten-free label would greatly ease the problems I have in dealing with this disease.