Well it’s not an official rule yet, but some movement was made this week on the gluten free labeling front.
This week, the Food and Drug Administration sent the gluten free labeling rule proposal to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Office of Management and Budget for consideration. According to TheHill.com, it will need to pass this stage before being enacted. In the documentation sent to the OIRA, it is labeled as being in the “final rule stage”.
No details have been released yet on what the FDA is proposing in the rule. But it is suspected the FDA will stick with Europe’s Codex Guidelines that state foods must must be under 20 ppms to be labeled gluten free. They will likely define gluten free as being without wheat, barley, or rye or derivatives of those grains.
Remember, this labeling rule WON’T require companies to label whether a product is gluten free, but instead it is voluntary. Meaning, if a company decides it wants to label something gluten free, then it needs to follow the FDA’s rule. It is that proposed rule that now sits and awaits action at OIRA.
So will this happen quickly? It is hard to tell. TheHill.com reports, “There are currently 143 rules and proposals sitting at OIRA, 84 of which have been sitting for more than the 90-day review limit imposed on the White House”.
The rule was due back in 2008 under the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act of 2004, but has been delayed for years. It got renewed energy about two years ago with the Gluten Free Labeling Summit of 2011 (and the World’s Largest Gluten Free Cake). By August of 2011 they reopened the public comment period — which leads us to this week– the most action we’ve seen in about 18 months.
I am working to try and get more understandable information on this story, when I do, I’ll get it posted. Keep the happy thoughts on gluten free labeling coming!