2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC89
Submitter : Mr. Eugene Skeen Date & Time: 08/19/2005 08:08:45
Organization : Mr. Eugene Skeen
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
Please enter my comments on FDA Docket #2005N-0279 regarding the Labeling of foods as "Gluten Free". In 1997, at the age of 57, weighing about 110 lbs., I was admitted to the ER after 2 years of exams and tests. I had 1 hour to live when diagnosed with Celiac Disease. A pic tube was inserted into my heart from which I received liquid food for 30 days. During my 5 day hospital stay a "Nutritionist" was added to my bill to teach me how to eat. In the hospital I was served mashed potatoes with gravy (flour!), Rice Krispies (wheat!), and rice with soy sauce (wheat!). Had my daughter and wife not immediately researched "Celiac" on the Internet, I would have been killed by the hospital, Doctors and Nutritionists. "Gluten Free" labels would have prevented this, and would have educated those medical professionals involved. "Gluten Free" should mean a product free of gliadin molecules. This means none in the ingredient list, and none in the production line from 'cross-contamination', such as making corn tortillas on the same conveyor belt as flour tortillas. Currently we use the list from CSA (Celiac Society of America) and Gluten Intolerance Group of Amer. to find safe products, as well as calling, writing and emailing companies for their 'gluten-free' lists. This takes at least 10% of our time before and during shopping. There are fewer than 10% of all foods labeled 'gluten free', and these are usually in health food stores or health food sections of markets. We will only buy items that have been confirmed 'gluten free' by the producer, or that are clearly marked 'gluten free'. Many common food items are confirmed gluten free by manufactures, and allow us to operate our kitchen normally without contamination. However, most foods currently produced and marked gluten free are 20-100% more expensive than their market-present counterparts consumed by the general public. With the recent University of Maryland research indicating that 1 in 350 people in the U.S. have Celiac Disease, and that it usually take 10+ years of 'misdiagnosis' to reach this diagnostic conclusion, it would seem an obvious requirement that foods be labeled 'gluten free'. Gastroenterologists should receive 'required' training about the symptoms and diagnosis of Celiac Disease, and Nutritionists should face the same requirements. This disease is called the "Silent Killer" not only because it is a painless wasting away from malabsorbtion, but apparently also because of Western Medicines lack of interest or concern about a widespread disease which requires no medication or operation...you simply change your diet, become healthy, and spend your money on the correct food instead of the Doctor! Remember, the importance of 'labeling' to a Celiac is a matter of life and death. One molecule of gliadin will set off the destructive reaction in our intestines and begin destroying the villi. Consecutive daily mistakes like this can kill someone whose system has already been compromised by a near-death experience with Celiac. Organs have been damaged, bones are less dense, immune systems are weakend...labeling as 'gluten free' is our first-line defense against what could be a deadly mistake. Thank you for your consideration of this information, and the opportunity to provide this input. Sincerely, Eugene L. Skeen P.O. Box 1965 Jacksonville, OR 97530