2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC60
Submitter : Ms. Jewel Ariola Date & Time: 08/15/2005 05:08:10
Organization : Ms. Jewel Ariola
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
1) What should "gluten-free" mean on a food label? Why?

"Gluten-free" should mean that the product was processed without the use of gluten (gliadan) containing ingredients in the product itself or on the equipment used in processing. Ideally it should be processed in a gluten-free plant. Why? To minimize the risk of contamination by residue from processing gluten-containing foods on the same equipment or from nearby food processing.

Manufacturers need to be made aware that it's not only wheat that contains gluten. Currently, some products use the "gluten-free" designation and, while their product is wheat-free, it contains barley (malt/malt flavoring) or rye. Personally, I react more quickly and violently to malt.

2) How do you identify foods that do not contain gluten? Time spent identifying foods?

I read food labels, even on products I've used before, because they might have changed an ingredient. Even foods purporting to be gluten-free sometimes contain gluten-containing ingredients.

About 10 hours per month. Grocery shopping for myself and a grown son that also has Celiac Disease takes at least twice as long because I read every ingredient. You have no idea how frustrating it is to read a list of ingredients that sound really good, then down near the bottom wheat- gluten or malt-flavoring is listed! Or how happy you can get when not a single ingredient contains gluten! Even if it could have been contaminated in processing. I'm sure other shoppers think all this emotion over food is a little crazy.

3) What percentage of foods and which types purchased are marked "gluten-free"?

About 20% of the foods I buy are gluten-free. All the pasta, bread/bread mixes, cake mixes, cookies, cereal and frozen dinners are gluten-free. They are at least twice the cost of the standard items, for a smaller amount, and not nearly as good. Almost every meal is from "scratch" now because foods labeled gluten-free are hard to find, there's a limited selection and they're ridiculously expensive. I'm certainly glad I'm not working and then have to shop and cook almost every single meal from scratch!

I live in San Angelo, Texas (Pop. 80,000). When I visit other towns I always go to the local health food stores to stock-up on the gluten-free foods not available locally. Many order their gluten-free products on-line.

4) Does "gluten-free" printed on a product label influence your decision to purchase products having the same ingredients? To what extent?

I always consider the product labeled "gluten-free" first and buy it 98% of the time, even with the extra expense.

Addendum: Gluten-containing fillers in medications (Rx & OTC) is a significant problem, too. Most do not list what type of starch was used to
make the pill or otherwise used in processing.

Also, gluten contained in toiletries and cosmetics is not listed as such. I also have Dermatitis Herpatiforms; gluten-containing products irritate my skin. I haven't worn make-up for several years because even the hypo-allergenic brands irritate me. (It ain't pretty at my age!)