Stricter label guidelines enforced for gluten-free products

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Look around your local supermarket—many gluten free labels that invaded packaged foods are no longer there.

Now, strict sticker guidelines apply to packaged food items that are claiming to be gluten free. This effort by the FDA aims to protect people with celiac disease; but may be causing problems for others on the gluten-free bandwagon.

Gluten is a binding agent that can be found in wheat and barley. The only known way to manage symptoms of celiac disease is to eat a gluten free diet.

Because of gluten-free foods’ popularity in recent years, labels were slapped on many items. Now, the new gluten free definition eliminates uncertainty on how products are labeled to assure they meet clear FDA standards.

“I've noticed that the labels actually changed from the products that we were receiving that had a gluten free label just a week ago,” noted Jordan Schlabach. “It seems that the label has been taken off.”

This discovery came as a surprise to Schlabach, owner of Yoder's Marketplace and Deli, as he searched for popular foods sporting the gluten free label.

But Schlabach says he will try to accommodate his customers.

“We get a lot of people in here that are very specific, they want that gluten free product, but they might not know what it does for them.”

But for those with celiac disease or food allergies, gluten free is a necessity.

“It's just going to be finding products to replace the ones that we did have, so I think that's going to be the next step going forward.”

Under the new FDA definition, foods carrying a gluten-free label must contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten—a virtually undetectable amount of gluten that occurs naturally in wheat, rye and barley.