2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC54
Submitter : Mrs. Roxanna Kerwood Date & Time: 08/15/2005 05:08:08
Organization : Mrs. Roxanna Kerwood
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
I am responding to questions concerning the definition of Gluten-Free for food labels.

When a product contains the label Gluten-Free that should signify to me as a consumer that the food does not contain any derivatives of wheat, oats, rye or barley, and that the product does not contact wheat, oats, rye or barley during the manufacturing process. This is extremly important to me because I have Celiac Disease. If the food I eat has even a small amount of wheat, oats, rye or barley in it or comes into contact with these grains during processing I become ill and my body will not absorb the nutrients it needs.

I identify foods that do not contain gluten by contacting the manufacturer or by using a commercial product list developed by the Celiac Sprue Association. I do not purchase or eat processed food unless I have confirmation through personal contact or by checking CSA's product list that the item does not contain gluten. Reading ingredient labels does not provide me with enough information to know the product is gluten free. I need confirmation that food containing items such as modified food starch are not gluten based and that the product isn't processed on the same line as gluten products where it could come into contact with gluten during processing. I spend a considerable amount of time researching products on the Internet and making phone calls to food manufacturers before I begin purchasing a food item. Even after I have verified the food is gluten free I have to continue to monitor the ingredients for changes.

The types of food that I purchase now that are labeled as gluten free include bread, cereal, flours, salad dressings, some baking mixes, cookies, pretzels, pasta and one brand of processed pepperoni and diced ham. All other items I purchase must be verified as gluten free through personal contact or by checking the CSA product list. So the precentage of items I can purchase now that are labeled gluten free is probably about 10% or less of my overall food purchases.

When a product is labeled as gluten free I will purchase that product even if there is similar gluten free product but not labeled as such. That gluten free label is my green light assurance that the product I am purchasing is safe for me to eat. When I find food that contains a gluten free label it is exciting!!! I will continue to purchase that item on a regular basis over smiliar items that may be gluten free but do not contain the gluten free label. The gluten free label is VERY important to me. For example, I currently purchase only one brand and type of cereal on a weekly basis because the box of cereal is labeled as gluten free. I won't even consider purchasing other brands because it would require that I spend time researching the product ingredients to determine if the item is gluten free.