2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC473
Submitter : Ms. Carole O'Leska Date & Time: 09/09/2005 06:09:08
Organization : Ms. Carole O'Leska
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
(1) What should gluten-free mean on food labels? For patients with celiac disease, it must mean that not only are there no ingredients containing gluten, but there is no cross contamination of gluten from other foods, such as flour used on food assembly lines to prevent sticking.

(2). How do you identify foods that do not contain gluten? Time spent identifying foods? There are only two methods that are available to the celiac consumer; one is if the product packaging is labeled gluten free. Two, the consumer must contact the manufacturer by telephone, e-mail, etc., and specifically ask if there is any gluten ingredient in the product, or any gluten contamination from other sources in the processing. And, this is not a one time request. Each time a product is purchased, the consumer must again contact the manufacturer to determine if anything has changed in the processing, such as a new contractor being used for one of the ingredients. And, this is a frequent response from manufacturers. Can you imagine having to call each manufacturer before purchasing a food product, an OTC drug, a prescription drug, lotions, tooth paste, etc., etc. This is not only a time consuming task, but very frustrating for the consumer. Often manufacturer's consumer help associates are not helpful. A frequent reply will be 'read the label and you can tell if any of the ingredients contain gluten'.

(3) What precentage of foods and which types purchased are marked 'gluten free'? In most stores, it is very difficult to find even a dozen items identified as gluten free on the labels. Speciality stores, such as health food or organic foods usually stock some items. A celiac patient must shop at several stores to locate items. I have only two cold cereals available and that is in speciality stores only. There are gluten free flours, cake mixes, etc. available from mail order suppliers and most frequently I am forced to purchase from them. Not only are these products much more expensive, ( a $2 regular cake mix is $6 when it is gluten free), but one much also pay shipping and wait for delivery. Can you imagine having to bake your own bread these days? I only purchase foods that are labeled as gluten free.

(4) Does gluten free printed on a product label influence you decision to purchase products having the same ingredients? Absolutely! If a label does not state that a product is gluten free, I do not purchase that item, regardless of the quality of ingredients in the other products. My health totally depends upon products being gluten free and unfortunately, the affected consumer is left to their own devices to locate products that are gluten free.