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Gluten free labels must now meet FDA requirements

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Imagine eating foods over and over again that you believe are safe, only to find out they could be slowly killing you. It's a fear for the estimated three million people in the United States with celiac disease until now.

It was more than one year ago when the Food and Drug Administration defined what kinds of food can actually be labeled as gluten free. As of today foods that claim to be gluten free must meet the F.D.A. requirements. That means from this day forward, foods have to be gluten free by nature or not containing a gluten grain or anything derived from a gluten grain like wheat, barley, or rye. There can only be trace amounts of anything containing gluten in a food item, less than 20 ppm.

This rule from the F.D.A. applies to packaged foods, but the F.D.A. strongly recommends that restaurants also keep within these guidelines as well. For people with celiac disease, like Kathleen O'Brien, these guidelines offer a sense of security.

"Gluten free food is not cheap, so I spend more money to maybe eat something that says it's gluten free, whether I'm craving it, or it's the only convenient eating I have, and so at the end of the day if I'm spending twice as much on something that's not actually gluten free and it's going to make me sick down the road, I feel very cheated," said O'Brien.

If manufacturers make a product that's gluten free, they don't have to put the gluten free label on the packaging, but if the label goes on the food, it must now follow the F.D.A. guidlines.

If you believe you've had an adverse reaction from something labeled gluten free, you may contact someone using the information below.

240-402-2405 or email CAERS@cfsan.fda.gov