For people with celiac disease, gluten can cause serious health conditions. It's time for them to know their food is safe.
For the many who suffer from celiac disease, being able to reliably and consistently avoid gluten in the diet is of crucial health importance. On August 2, the Food and Drug Administration moved one step closer to helping these consumers, by setting an upper limit on how much gluten can be in foods labeled "gluten free." We pledged to move promptly to issue a final rule defining "gluten free" next year.
This will have a real impact on consumers with celiac disease who now have to navigate the "gluten free" labels on their grocery store shelves hoping that consuming a particular product won't bring on any of the painful symptoms of their illness, such as abdominal pain or vomiting. Or worse yet—lead to chronic serious health effects such as infertility or intestinal cancers, because exposure to gluten over time can rob their bodies of the ability to properly absorb nutrients from foods.
Consumers with celiac disease know a lot about gluten. But for the uninitiated, let me give you a brief definition. "Gluten" is commonly used to refer to certain proteins that occur naturally not only in wheat but also in rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains. These proteins can harm people who have celiac disease. The only treatment for this disorder is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Defining "gluten free" labels, then, is very important for those who must avoid gluten.