2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC169
Submitter : Mrs. Leigh Ann Adams Date & Time: 08/24/2005 05:08:53
Organization : Mrs. Leigh Ann Adams
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
1. What should "gluten free" mean on a food label? Gluten free should mean just that, that the product is 100% gluten free. My husband and mother-in-law are both celiac patients and my 2 children have a possibility of becoming affected by the disease. Buying food at the local grocery store has become a chore that I truly dread just because of the time it takes to read every ingredient on every food label. If gluten free doesn't really mean totally gluten free, then we might as well not even have this requirement of labeling foods. A person who has Celiac disease is extremely sensitive to ANY amount of gluten. When the person has been on a gluten free diet for some time, the tiniest amount of gluten hidden in a product can cause a severe reaction.

2. How do you identify foods that do not contain gluten? Time spent identifying foods? I identify foods that do not contain gluten by reading food labels. I read every ingredient and compare them to a list of "good" and "bad" ingredients that I received from a dietician who specializes in Celiac diets. However, there are so many "filler" ingredients and additives that the list I have is in no way all-inclusive. So, unfortunately, some of the products I've identified as having gluten in them were found by method of trial and error, meaning that my husband had to have a reaction in order for me to identify the product. I spend a lot of time trying to decipher food labels and many times I just call the customer service number on the label to speak to an ingredient specialist. Since my husband's diagnosis I have tripled my time in the grocery store. It usually takes me over an hour to purchase groceries for a week. One might say that if you buy a product once and it's gluten free, then it will always be gluten free, but that is not necessarily true. Filler ingredients and additives in food and medications alike can change with each batch of the product that is made, so I check EVERY time I buy something that isn't fresh fruit or vegetables.

3. What percentage of foods and which types purchased are marked "gluten free?" Most of what I buy in the regular grocery store is not marked. There is one brand of speciality GF flour and bread mix and the Thai Kitchen rice noodles that I buy in my regular store that are marked as gluten free, but nothing else I buy is. I can travel an hour to a specialty store and buy cereal, baking mixes, condiments, and pastas that are marked "gluten free."

4. Does "gluten-free" printed on a product label influence your decision ot purchase products having the same ingredients? To what extent? It does influence my deicision greatly because I know that I can see the words "gluten-free" and know that the product is safe for my family. I would much rather see the product marked than have to read a list of 15 or more ingredients and have to look them up on the master list of ingredients, only to find that the ingredient isn't on either list. Anytime I can find a product that is marked "gluten free," I buy it.