2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC85
Submitter : Ms. Michele Cavanaugh Date & Time: 08/19/2005 08:08:12
Organization : Ms. Michele Cavanaugh
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
I have Celiac Disease and would like to respond to the 4 Questions put before us to assist with discerning how to define Gluten-Free on food labels.

1) What should "gluten-free" mean on a food label?

It should mean food that contains no gluten (or gliadin protein) in any source of the product's make up,and not be prepared in an environment that the product could be containminated by gluten. The latter should be mentioned so that the consumer can decide whether they want to ingest the product or not if there is the possbility of contamination.

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

I regularly call companies. I do this some times from the market while shopping. This is a problem on weekends when the customer service departments are not avaialbe to answer questions about their products. CSA has also product list that is helpful...but not complete.

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

Other than organizations that specialize in Gluten free, such as the Gluten Free Pantry extremely few label their products as Gluten free. I would esitmate less than 1%. Kozy Shack Puddings, Ivin's Root Beer and Utz' Cheese Balls are labelled Gluten-free. But I know from calling various companies that there are many more products out there that are deemed by the manufacturer as gluten-free. If they would label them I wouldn't have to remember which products are safe and which are not. The market Trader Joe's have, or until recently had a list of products in their store that is gluten-free. (They say the are updating it) The gocery store Wegman's has begun labeling their store named products that are gluten-free, which is extremely helpful.

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

Absolutely, (100%) if an organization is willing to declare themselves as gluten-free I will choose that product over another on the shelf with the same listed ingredients in support of their concern for the Celiac community. They have made a commitment to me and I will in turn make a commitment to that company if it is a product that I enjoy or am willing to try for the first time.

I would also appreciate the FDA's consideration of identifiying gluten free medications. The varied standards between defining "starch" or "modified starch" in food and medications is not acceptable. It should be the same..."starch/modified food starch" should always be corn starch. When going to the doctor's office. He or she may write a presciption that the doctor wants you to have but then it becoems my problem to discern whether this medication is gluten free or not and it often delays treament and requires more time and input from the physician to rewrite or reexamine the prescribed initial treament plan. Please take a serious look at this issue too.

I hope this information is helpful. Anything that can be done to label foods as gluten-free would make my life a lot more focused on living and less focused having my next gluten accident.