We have been waiting patiently. One year and one week ago today, I posted about how the FDA was reopening the public comment period about gluten free labeling here in the US. In that article, I mentioned something that was said in the FDA’s teleconference, that they are hoping for an announcement on this topic in “the third quarter of 2012″.
Well the third quarter started a month ago….and again….we’ve been waiting patiently.
I got even more antsy when Canada’s gluten-free labeling went into effect over the weekend. Now you will see all products that contain gluten (well except beer) will have clear labeling in their ingredients. You can read up on how it works (and why the beer folks were able to get out of it) by clicking here.
Back to the US, the gluten free rules actually will be part of a voluntary gluten free label. So if a company voluntarily wants to say their product is gluten free, it must meet the standards that the FDA agrees on.
- Will “less than 20 ppm” be the testing number to know where something is deemed and labeled gluten free– or will it be called low gluten?
- How will labeling go for items like produce that is naturally gluten free?
- Who will it affect and when?
Those standards and the nuances of the rule are what we’re awaiting to hear. Many companies could choose to NOT go through the trouble of doing costly gluten-free testing and going through a relabeling process. Those companies may rather just leave their ingredient label ambiguous and not bother with any hint of gluten free information — the way many products are labeled in the US are right now.
This week I reached out to the FDA to find out when we’ll know more about the ruling. Arthur Whitmore from the Communications Team with the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition within the FDA said to me,
“It remains a very high priority at the agency, and we intend to publish it by the end of this calendar year.” — FDA
Well…so I won’t hold my breath that this food labeling announcement will come in the third quarter….
The FDA couldn’t tell me anything more about how they were leaning with the ruling and what we could expect in terms of content of the announcement when it comes.
So the long and short of it: Keep doing what you’re doing because even if they announced the rule change by the end of the third quarter or the end of the year, there will likely be a long waiting period while the government gives companies a time to react and respond (for Canada it was 18 months) so they have the opportunity to comply.
In the meantime, I will look forward to revisiting this issue with you, hopefully before December 31st.