A year after the Food and Drug Administration laid out the rules for food manufacturers who want to label their products gluten-free, the new labeling requirements will go kick in this week.
In order to bear the label “gluten-free,” products can’t contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten, says the FDA, because any higher than that and people with celiac could have trouble digesting the food and become sick.
Before now, anyone could slap the words gluten-free on something, but as for what that meant, there was no definition set with regulations. A food manufacturer could basically decide how much gluten was in a product, posing potential health problems for those with celiac disease.
Others simply choose to avoid gluten for their own perceived health benefits and reasons, so the label will be useful in those situations as well.
Food companies have had a year to prepare their products to be technically free of wheat, rye and barley, or just chuck the “gluten-free” label if they couldn’t make a product that meets the new definition.
And while restaurants won’t have to adhere to the requirements, the FDA is urging any who can to do so as well, using the same guideline set for packaging labels.