Temporary label requirement changes by FDA may impact the status of gluten-free food
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA is allowing manufacturers to make minor changes in packaged food ingredients without updating ingredient lists to reflect these changes. (https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-announces-temporary-flexibility-policy-regarding-certain-labeling-requirements-foods-humans). The guidance states that this should only be done when the ingredient being substituted does “not cause any adverse health effect”, with “gluten” being specifically noted as an example of an ingredient that should not be substituted in. In other words, this FDA guidance theoretically means that a product which was previously gluten-free would remain gluten-free, even if some ingredient(s) are modified. But the possibility does exist that companies could inadvertently substitute in a gluten-containing ingredient that would not be noted in the ingredient list. A letter submitted to the FDA, which GIG has co-signed with Gluten-Free Watch Dog, National Celiac Association, Beyond Celiac, Society for the Study of Celiac Disease, and the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California, expresses our concerns as a community. You can view this letter here and are invited to submit a comment to the docket here.
Now more than ever, GFCO certified gluten-free products offer the safest options for gluten-free consumers. No ingredient change can ever be made in a certified gluten-free product without being reviewed by GFCO. Look for the GFCO certification mark, including our new certification marks, to ensure the products that you are purchasing are safely gluten-free.
If you are a manufacturer of a product that is not certified by GFCO, please note this helpful information about ingredients with hidden sources of gluten.
To learn more about this hot topic, see this recap of the GIG Education & Support Series discussion on the issue.