2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC819
Submitter : Ms. Laurie Bentzen Date & Time: 09/13/2005 07:09:27
Organization : Ms. Laurie Bentzen
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
1.What should "gluten-free" mean on a food label? If I see this written on a label I would assume that it would be free of wheat, oats, rye, barley and malt, however that is not the case due to several reasons. One reason being cross contamination is always a possibility and should be labeled on the packaged if other foods in the factory are being process and contain gluten. Another reason it is not gluten free, is manufacturers don't understand the true definition of gluten. I did mention it above, however due to a lack of education or laziness manufacturers are not aware that certain ingredients have gluten in them, for example certain oils and vinegars. I want to buy a product that says gluten free and for it to really mean it, it must be free of wheat, oat, rye, malt, or barley in all forms.

2.How do you identify foods that do not contain gluten? Well, it's hard. Life is much easier when a packaged says gluten free on it. At least at that point you can read the label and find out if it meets your specific needs. If it doesn't say gluten free then you read the label and let me tell you I have spent too many hours in the store reading labels. I cannot even put a number to it. Not only are you reading labels but your skipping through books that tell you if you can even have half of the ingredients on the label because so many of the words are similar or foreign looking. One thing I can say is people look at me funny and ask me what are you, super healthy or an inspector of food? And don't even mention all the time your loved ones spend reading labels as well, especially if they want to cook for you. Reading label after label is hard especially when you are in a hurry. I spend too much of my time reading labels which is why I prefer to buy the products that say gluten free or those that the celiac sprue association says is gluten free.

3. What percentage of foods and which types purchased are marked gluten-free? I prefer to buy gluten free foods by going to speciality grocery and health food stores. It makes time in the store a lot less, but more costly. If something says gluten free I am willing to try it at least once to see if I like it since our options are limited. I am probably 100% likely to try a product if it says gluten free. Products where I have to read label has proabbly a 40% propobility of ending up in my cart. Most food I purchase says gluten free or is naturally gluten free, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

4. Does gluten-free printed on a product label influence your decision to purchase products having the same ingredients? As I previously mentioned yes. Saying it on the label gives me about 92% security that the product will not make me sick. If I found two similar products with the exact same ingredients, such as a bag of chips, but one said gluten free let me tell you there would be no second guessing. I would instantly buy the bag of chips that was labeled gluten free. The only fear I have of manufacture putting gluten free on their products is that they won't be educated enough to determine if their product is gluten free and that if the ingredients in their product changes just a little, like less then 8%, that they will not make the change on the ingredients list on the product nor will they delete the words gluten free if this small change now means their product isn't gluten free. The smallest change in anything can cause a person with celiac to be sick; manufacturers must be told this and must be punished if they do not change the ingredients of their product.