2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC632
Submitter : Miss. Dawn Selover Date & Time: 09/12/2005 06:09:07
Organization : Celiac Sprue Association
Category : Food Association
Issue Areas/Comments
I am writing with regards to labeling food "gluten-free".
Q1. What should "gluten-free" mean on a label? Why?
A1. It should mean there is NO gluten in the product in order to protect consumers who have celiac disease and other food sensitivities.
Q2. How do you identify foods that do not contain gluten? Time spent identifying foods.
A2. The only way to identify foods and other products that contain gluten is to read labels carefully. This obviously takes more time. If a product is labeled "gluten-free", I am more likely to purchase that item because I don't have to read through a long list of ingredients. It also speeds up my shopping. Some of our local health food stores label their "gluten-free" products on the shelves. Unfortunately, a loaf of gluten-free bread at Whole Foods costs $6.99. The cost of "gluten-free" food is often prohibitive for many consumers.
Q3. What percentage of foods and which types purchased are marked "gluten-free"?
A3. In a regular grocery store, less than 5% of the foods are marked "gluten-free". Most of these items are found in the processed meat section or the frozen food section. I recently purchased natural french fries and beefsticks that were marked "gluten-free".
Q4. Does "gluten-free" printed on a product label influence your decision to purchase products having the same ingredients? To what extent?
A4. No contest! I will always purchase the product marked "gluten-free" even if it costs more. My health isn't worth risking on a product that may or may not contain even a trace amount of gluten. That's all it takes to make me sick. I often order my food online from speciality stores like The Gluten-Free Pantry or Kinnikinnick (located in Canada). These vendors guarantee that their products are "gluten-free".

I find it easier to identify "gluten-free" foods now then when I was first diagnosed four years ago. This identification process could be made much easier in the future if The Food and Drug Administration would mandate that producers include the label "gluten-free" on all products that contain NO gluten.

Thanks for your help.
Dawn Selover