As more and more Americans self-diagnose gluten sensitivities, the US Food and Drug Administration has finally gotten around to enforcing some standards on what foods can carry a gluten-free label. Quite surprisingly, they don't actually have to be free of gluten.
The FDA announced a new rule on Friday that requires all "gluten free" foods to have no more than 20 parts per million of gluten. Now, that's not exactly gluten-free, but it's almost gluten-free, close enough that doctors say the three million odd Americans who suffer from Celiac disease won't be affected by the trace amounts. And as if there were any confusion, the same rule goes for food labelled "no gluten", "free of gluten" and "without gluten".
It's unclear what kind of impact these new rules will have on the marketplace. In recent years, eating gluten-free food has become, for lack of a better term, trendy. A study from earlier this year showed that nearly 30 per cent of Americans are trying to reduce the amount of gluten in their bodies which is many millions more than those that actually have Celiac disease.
Nevertheless, companies have capitalised on the trend and "gluten-free" products have exploded onto the marketplace. But thanks to the good ol' FDA, it's not the wild west out there anymore, and companies will have to prove that their gluten-free foods are, in fact, almost gluten-free. There is no regulation for weird health nuts, however. Not yet anyways. [AP]