New research from the US Department of Agriculture says “no gluten” is one of the most popular labels put on food today and it is likely the result of food labeling regulations and nutrition information in Washington.

Funny how this information came out one day after news that the FDA’s gluten free labeling rule made it to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA); making the voluntary gluten free labeling rule one step closer to reality!

“No Gluten” Label Bursts onto the Scene

The research said “no gluten” actually had the largest increase in usage on products between 2001 and 2010.  If you look at the graph in the research, you’ll see “no gluten” didn’t even make the chart in prior years and leaped to the #2 overall position behind a product being “high in vitamins/minerals” by 2010.

But why? The report says this time period saw a lot of play with nutritional campaigns and the fight against obesity.  In more depth, consumers were purchasing more gluten free foods because they are “generally healthier”, for “weight management”, and “generally higher in quality”.  Treating celiac disease was an option that came far behind the top three.

I wonder if the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act as well as the BIG study that found celiac occurs in 1 in 133 Americans had something to do with it too.  That study seemed to be a game changer– at least on the awareness side of things.

I do find it interesting that this survey comes out just as more government action is being taken regarding gluten free labeling.  So could the “no gluten” or “gluten free” label become even more popular with the upcoming labeling rule?  I guess we’ll know in another 10 years.

Gluten Free Labeling Rule Reaction

Speaking of the upcoming government action on gluten free labeling– folks are so excited to see concrete progress happening in Washington.  The labeling rule should have been completed in 2008, but seemed inactive until the Gluten Free Labeling Summit of 2011 — which energized some folks at the FDA.

I recently spoke with Jules Shepard of Jules Gluten Free Flour and one of the coordinators for the Gluten Free Labeling Summit.  She is excited to see something happen after so many years of inactivity, “It’s a process– a long one at that — but it IS moving.  Obviously we’d like to snap our fingers and have it be DONE, but we have to wait our turn like everyone else, I suppose.”

Shepard added, even when this moves past the regulations phase, we may have to wait a little longer, “There will be one more waiting period, so to speak.  That is the regulations will have a grace period before they go int effect to allow food manufacturers to comply with the new rules.  It will likely be anywhere from 1 year to 18 months before they go into effect.”

So we all need to try and be patient on this one.  However, we have to admit we are seeing a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel and hope to see everything finalized soon.

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