2005N-0279 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods; Public Meeting
FDA Comment Number : EC919
Submitter : Dr. stasia miaskiewicz Date & Time: 09/14/2005 05:09:01
Organization : Dr. stasia miaskiewicz
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments

I am a person with celiac disease diagnosed 8 years ago, I am also a
physician; therefore, a fairly informed label-reader. I wish to comment on
the upcoming definition of 'gluten-free' for food labeling purposes. to be
useful and serve it's purpose, 'gluten free' should mean the level of gluten
is sufficiently low to prevent the immune response in the gi tract of
persons with celiac disease who are on a gluten elimination diet. I
personally identify foods that do not contain gluten by carefully and
thoroughly reading the label, if the label is unclear about the source of
some ingredients (ie: maltodextrin rather than clarification with 'tapioca
maltodextrin') i either avoid the food or call the 800 number or query the
website to determine whether or not this food is safe for my consumption.
this process is tiresome and frustrating, and i spend several minutes in a
traditional grocery store examining a product for this information. i tend
to shop at Whole Foods and the food co-op because they carry a much larger
selection of foods labelled gluten free, which makes my job easy. even so,
probably <10% of my current purchases are actually labelled 'gluten free'.
if products do carry the 'gluten free' label i am strongly motivated to seek
them out and purchase them since this signifies to me that the food
manufacturer 'gets it' as far as my dietary restrictions. i have travelled
to other countries where a gluten free symbol is widely
disseminated, and it is always a joy to be there and a letdown to come home
and start to scrutinize my labels again - hopefully, your recommendations
will make this process easier for me and all others who are trying to adhere
to the gluten free diet. i would recommend a strict definition of gluten free and worry about confusion with different degrees of gluten content, i worry that this will allow celiacs to think that a little gluten is ok, and we know it isn't. thank you in advance
for your interest in this matter.
stasia miaskiewicz, md, upmc mckeesport