New food labeling law omits gluten

A new food labeling is going into effect, but they forgot one little thing:

Plain language labels now required for eight top allergens

Of note is that the new law does not specifically address gluten, only wheat. Gluten describes a group of proteins found in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It is of concern because people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. An estimated one in every 133 people in the U.S. currently has celiac disease, and there is some concern that the numbers are rising. The new law does requires the FDA to issue a proposed rule that would allow voluntary use of the term “gluten free” by August 2006 and to have a final rule on “gluten free” in place by August 2008.

Well at least there’s something in the works.

Reading the list of ingredients is not enough. Many products are made in facilities that have wheat flour dust flying all around, process foods in the same containers as wheat-based products, and dust conveyor belts with wheat four to keep things from sticking, without any obligation to list wheat as an ingredient. For people with food allergies, grocery shopping can be a friggin’ nightmare.