Does the FDA gluten-free labeling regulation apply to “gluten-free” claims in advertising?

The short answer is no. The FDA gluten-free regulation applies to food products, not to advertising. A separate government agency regulates truth in advertising: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  

The FTC website (www.FTC.gov) states: “When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.  

The Federal Trade Commission enforces these truth-in-advertising laws and applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears, including newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses. If a consumer believes that an advertising claim is false or misleading, they can submit a report and the FTC may conduct an investigation.  

Although not specified, it is reasonable to expect that if the FTC were to investigate a “gluten-free” claim, the same standard for gluten-free used by the FDA (< 20 ppm) would also be used by the FTC as the FDA.