Gluten-free labels are showing up on many products in the grocery store, but are they all really gluten free? The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the makers of packaged gluten-free food.
To use the gluten-free label, products must now have an undetectable level of gluten and cannot have an ingredient containing wheat, rye, barley, or any of their derivatives.
Specifically, only products containing fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten can boast the label.
â??It can get really confusing for customers to try to navigate the prepared food section and figure out what exactly is safe and what isn't,â?? explained Heather Burson, chef and owner of Third Coast. â??For people that have anaphylactic reactions, it's a really big deal. There is a true medical need. There's an increase in the diagnosis because testing is getting better and there's more and more awareness about celiac disease.â??
Last August, the FDA said food manufacturers had one year to meet new gluten-free requirements.
Up until now, there hasn't been a clear definition of gluten-free.
â??I'm not fooling around. I'm not here to try to pull one over on people. I'm really serious and intentional with every ingredient that goes in my product. They come to us and trust us with their health. The worst thing is to trust somebody that has gluten-free on their product and there is gluten and they get sick. The symptoms can last for a few weeks or a few months. It can be pretty bad, so we take our customers health very seriously,â?? said Burson.
Lab testing is not required by the FDA.
Third Coastâ??s finished products aren't tested, so they use labels that say â??made with gluten-free certified ingredients.â??
â??We specialize in gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, and vegan baked goods with certified ingredients and it has just opened up a huge opportunity for people to finally eat and to eat well and eat something that tastes fantastic.â??
Burson says there is a true medical need for gluten-free items for people with Celiac Disease, but there is also a growing population of people looking to get healthy.
â??There's been such a flurry of people jumping on the trend and everybody wants to buy into the $14 billion of projected sales and get their piece of the pie.â??
The FDA suggests restaurants follow the requirements, but it's not mandated. So if you're unsure about a specific meal or dish, be sure to talk with the baker or chef before ordering off the menu.