This Labor Day weekend, we will reach the midway point of the comment period for Americans to voice their opinion about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule for labeling foods gluten free.

If you haven’t commented on the FDA’s proposed gluten-free labeling rule, comment right now by clicking here. It will take you step-by-step through the process.

The FDA announced 4 weeks ago today that they were reopening the comment period for us about their proposal to allow foods with less than 20 ppm of gluten be considered gluten free. And at this time, only 67 have been posted publicly.  Now before you get outraged (as I did while preparing the post)…hang tight.

Yes it’s only 67, but Siobahn DeLancey from the FDA’s Office of Public Affairs told me Tuesday these commonly get backlogged.   If what I saw was any indication, yes, they do!  I started reading the comments and noticed those 67 comments were written and submitted in the first two days of the comment period.  There are no recent comments posted so far.  So giving them the benefit of the doubt– I would presume there are several hundred sitting there waiting for “approval” (fingers crossed!).

DeLancey said, “…they aren’t posted in real time because they have to be reviewed to remove any company confidential information first.”  With any luck, many more will be put into the system soon!

What do the submitted gluten-free comments say?

DeLancey also explained the FDA wouldn’t start reviewing the comments until after the comment period has closed.

So instead of waiting, I started reviewing them.

Just as a side note, the site actually says there are 207 comments– but most of them are actually document submissions from the FDA and others, as well as comments from many years ago.  So the 67 I am counting are since August 3, 2011.

Well, I found the majority of submitters  support the idea of labeling or specifically the 20 ppm standard.  Next in line were the “others” who talked about other things, like “please add labeling to drugs/medications” and “gluten should be listed like wheat and milk in FALCPA.” The smallest number wanted change to the proposal.  Most wanted to see a strict zero ppm for labeling something gluten free.  There were a few others whose comments weren’t made public.

Some of them covered several topics at one time– which made it a challenge to categorize.  Take Maribeth Moore’s comment for example, “Thank you for taking seriously the importance of gluten-free labeling. It is important, as a person with Celiac, to have accurate labeling. I do like the idea of a symbol to make reading easy, but it is not mandatory for me. I know that for now this measure does not cover medications. It would be nice if in the future that gluten labeling would be done on medications also. Pharmacists often have a difficult time researching some medications for gluten.”

Drew Morgan of Washington showed the other side, “I cannot believe that this is even a question, nor that there is any debate about the answer. GLUTEN FREE should be exactly that, FREE OF GLUTEN, 0 ppm.”

This is what the FDA is dealing with.  In some cases a very divided group.  Anyone can see these any time.  Just go to the FDA’s regulations website and input the docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 in the keyword box– then the comments will come up!

I think it is vitally important that if you haven’t commented yet– please do so now!  You only have about a month yet!  Let your voice be heard!

 

 

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