Chew on this

FDA sets guidelines on gluten-free foods

 

srarback@hotmail.com

Gluten-free diets are the new black.

They’re a bit mysterious and sexy, and pricey with hints of secret benefits. And as this trend continues to soar and confuse, the government has come in to assist with guidelines on what foods can proudly and profitably wear the gluten-free label.

The gluten-free market is a $4.2 billion industry that is estimated to grow to $6.6 billion by 2017, according to Packaged Facts.

The Food and Drug Administration started examining gluten-free foods in 2007. Six years later, it has finally come to a consensus: For a food to be labeled gluten free, the gluten limit has to be less than 20 parts per million. That translates to a food containing less than .002 percent gluten.

Expert opinion is that this minimal amount of gluten would not be harmful to someone with celiac disease. The FDA will allow manufacturers to label a food “gluten-free” if the food does not contain any of the following:

• An ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley or crossbreeds of these grains

• An ingredient derived from these grains that has not been processed to remove gluten

• An ingredient derived from these grains that has been processed to remove gluten, it if results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million.

A federal standard on gluten-free labeling is of great benefit to people with celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivity. I suspect it will also be a marketing tool for products that have never contained gluten.

But this is what is important to remember: Being gluten-free does not make a product healthier. It is the nutrients that are in a product, not what is missing, that promotes health.

Gluten free does not mean calorie-free; some gluten-free products have more calories than their wheat-based counterparts.

Celiac disease is clearly diagnosed with a blood test and biopsy. The question of gluten sensitivity is confusing and controversial.

My next column will provide an evidence-based review of gluten sensitivity. Stay tuned.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category