973-920-7000 • Fax: 973-920-7531
Vice President of Sales
TOM LYNCH • 973-920-7782; Fax 973-607-5492
JEFF REINKE • 973-920-7784; Fax: 973-607-5605
KRYSTAL GABERT • 973-920-7020; Fax: 973-607-6459
LINDSEY JAHN • 973-920-7795; Fax: 973-607-5503
DEBBIE WAWZYANICK • 973-920-7148; Fax: 973-607-5563
KAREN MULRENAN • 973-920-7141
LARRY CORBY • 973-920-7118
Web Production Specialist
MARCELLUS SCHOOLER • 973-920-7025
Customer Service Supervisor
ALYSSA ADAIR • 973-920-7789
GAIL KIRBERGER • 973-920-7482; Fax: 973-267-7542
Infogroup Targeting Solutions
Senior Account Manager, Bart Piccirillo,
Senior Account Manager, Michael Costantino
The YGS Group
ABMReprints@the YGSGroup.com • 800-501-9571, ext.100
3650 West Market Street • York, PA 17404
ANDY JUAREZ, Engineering Manager, Tree Top Inc.
MIKE SCHMID, Managing Partner, Wolfgang Candy Co.
STEVE VAN TASSEL, CEO, Weetabix North America
CRAIG SHIESLEY, General Manager of Silk, White Wave Foods
National Sales Manager
100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 600, Box 912
Rockaway, NJ 07866-0912
973-920-7194; Fax: 973-920-7542
National Sales Manager
199 East Badger Road, Suite 101 • Madison, WI 53713
973-920-7774; Fax: 973-607-5460
100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 600 • Rockaway, NJ 07866-0912
973-920-7000; Fax: 973-920-7531
Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer
Vice President, Human Resources
Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Digital Officer
FDA Gives Meaning
to "Gluten Free"
According to a July 2010 study published in Discovery’s Edge, Mayo Clinic’s online research magazine, diagnosed cases of celiac disease have risen four-fold in the past 60 years, though researchers are still seeking an explanation for the sudden spike in cases. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the sufferer often experiences digestive
complications when exposed to wheat protein, or gluten. As diagnosis of the disorder increases — and
recent estimates suggest that approximately one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease
— so does consumer interest in gluten-free products.
In addition to celiac disease, which can be quite severe, a number of other
gluten sensitivity disorders exist along a spectrum of intensity, creating
an even larger pool of consumers pursuing a gluten-free diet. Still others,
spurred on by cardiologist William Davis’ recent book, Wheat Belly, which
urges all consumers to shun wheat in favor of a gluten-free diet, have
decided to shun gluten by choice.
While an optional gluten-free diet may be the next trendy diet fad (
anybody remember South Beach?), real diagnosed cases of celiac disease
and other gluten sensitivities show no evidence of slowing. And savvy food
processors are reaping the benefits as U.S. consumers reportedly spend
between $4 billion and $7 billion each year on gluten-free products.
Curiously, however, until recently the “gluten free” label meant very little.
Last month, after six years of deliberation, the FDA released guidance
that would regulate products that carry a “gluten free” label. According to
the new rules, these products can contain no more than 20 parts per million
Food manufacturers now have one year to achieve compliance before the
full weight of the regulation is enforceable.
Michael R. Taylor, the deputy FDA commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said, “This stan-
dard ‘gluten free’ definition will eliminate uncertainty about how food producers label their products and
will assure people with celiac disease that foods labeled ‘gluten free’ meet a clear standard established
and enforced by FDA.”
Predictably, response to the new regulations from advocacy groups representing those who suffer
from celiac disease has been positive and supportive of the new guidance. Response from industry has
been, thus far, largely absent.
Manufacturers should look at these new guidelines as a gift. While federal guidelines did not yet
exist, truth-in-advertising is a well enshrined precedent. For example, North Carolina filed an injunction
against Great Specialty Products in 2010 after the company was found to be selling bread containing
gluten as “gluten free.” The owner of the company was later charged with six felonies for intentionally
While this was an egregious case (the bread sold reportedly contained more than 5,000 parts per
million of gluten), it illustrates that absent specific federal guidance, food processors were not left to
make what they pleased and label it “gluten free” without consequence.
With these new proposed guidelines, processors will now be somewhat protected from liability as
long as they operate within the established boundaries set by these rules. ◆
Krystal Gabert, Editor
As consumer interest in gluten-free
food products rises,
have been cashing in.
But until last week’s
announcement by the
FDA, the label had
little actual meaning.