Food label expert expects most businesses to comply with new voluntary regulation
Monday, Aug. 4, 2014
MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University food label expert believes most companies will comply with a new voluntary federal labeling regulation that defines the term "gluten-free." The new regulation goes into effect Aug. 5.
"The gluten-free trend has been crazy," said Fadi Aramouni, professor of food science and supervisor of the university's Kansas Value-Added Foods Laboratory. "Only about 1 percent of the population has celiac disease, which is gluten intolerance, but the actual percentage of people buying gluten-free products has jumped to about 7 or 8 percent of the population — and it continues to increase."
The new rule put in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines gluten-free as a food item that contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten, which is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, rye, barley and crossbred hybrids of these grains. According to the FDA, this new regulation will provide a uniform standard definition to help the 3 million Americans who have celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that can be effectively managed only by eating gluten-free foods.
Kansas State University's Value-Added Foods Laboratory has been busy helping small businesses in Kansas prepare for the new regulation by testing their products for gluten, writing specifications for food products, creating labels and even helping companies develop gluten-free products.
"Even though the labeling is voluntary, a lot of companies are opting to add it on their label," Aramouni said. "It's a hot item with consumers and this allows companies to be more competitive."
The FDA was directed to set the guidelines by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.