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Term ‘Gluten-Free’ Standardized on Food Labels

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized the definition of the term “gluten-free” on food labels, which means all manufacturers that want to use that phrase on their products must adhere to strict guidelines.

As stated by the FDA, the term gluten-free now refers to foods that are either inherently gluten free or foods that do not contain any ingredient that is:

  • a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat);

  • derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or

  • derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food.

Additionally, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.

The ruling benefits the more than three million Americans living with celiac disease that face serious health conditions if they eat food containing gluten.

The gluten-free ruling applies to all FDA-regulated foods and dietary supplements; it excludes foods whose labeling is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Manufacturers have one year to make package labels compliant.

Learn more about the FDA’s gluten-free ruling.

Image description: This photo is of Harvey Wiley, Chief Chemist, and two unidentified staff at the Bureau of Chemistry. In 1903, Wiley captured the attention of the country by establishing a volunteer group of young men who agreed to eat foods that contained chemical preservatives. The press called this group the “Poison Squad” and made it a national sensation. Wiley thought that chemical preservatives should only be used in food when necessary and that consumers should be informed about the use of preservatives. 
Photo from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Image description: This photo is of Harvey Wiley, Chief Chemist, and two unidentified staff at the Bureau of Chemistry. In 1903, Wiley captured the attention of the country by establishing a volunteer group of young men who agreed to eat foods that contained chemical preservatives. The press called this group the “Poison Squad” and made it a national sensation. Wiley thought that chemical preservatives should only be used in food when necessary and that consumers should be informed about the use of preservatives. 

Photo from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration