Health Column: New gluten-free standards from FDA |

Health Column: New gluten-free standards from FDA

Angela Wetzel
Free Press Health Columnist

Tuesday, Aug 5, was the day all gluten-free people have been waiting for — the day all nationally made foods have to comply with the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules for labeling of “gluten free.”

Last summer, the FDA set new requirements that said only foods with less than 20 parts per millions (ppm) of gluten can be labeled gluten free. They gave manufacturers one year to comply with the new rules. This means that anything labeled “gluten free,” “made without gluten,” etc., will have to adhere to these standards.

People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance have been pushing for this type of labeling standard for years. Since gluten is a huge risk to those living with celiac disease, it’s a great first step in the right direction.

I stress that it’s only a “first step” because, while it does help the gluten-free community, it doesn’t cover all foods, like items regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). You will still have to be cautious when buying your meat and chicken products for instance. And it doesn’t cover alcoholic beverages, any type of cosmetics, drugs (prescription or over the counter) or pet foods. Also, it still allows for some gluten to be in foods which mean cross-contamination at factories can still occur.

I do take issue with the government saying that 20ppm is gluten free. If something had traces of peanuts in it and was labeled peanut free, would it be allowed to be labeled that way? According to the FDA, people with celiac disease can handle a small amount of gluten in their diets every day. I’m assuming that the person who wrote that doesn’t have celiac disease because the smallest amount can affect me.

Let’s hope the next steps are to have cosmetics and more labeled gluten free, and to make the standard 0 ppm of gluten!

GJ Free Press health columnist Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.

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