Friday, August 5, 2011

How do you feel about the FDA's proposed gluten-free labeling laws?

The other day the FDA re-opened discussion on their proposed gluten-free labeling laws.  You know, the ones they started drafting in 2007?  Yes, the ones that have been languishing for 4 years.  Those laws.

Here is the FDA press release, containing relevant links, should you want to find out more about it.  No, I haven't read all the details yet.  I've only just glanced at the release.

I did happen to be on Twitter right after the FDA teleconference on Aug. 2 ended.  My computer screen literally exploded with tweets containing #gfFDA.  There were comments about the proposed language of the law, what was included, what was left out, and what did it all mean.  OMFSM!  (Oh My Flying Spaghetti Monster, the best expletive I've heard in a long time.)  Seriously, with all the traffic, I really thought something big had happened...

Yes, this is kind of big.  Let's call it "big-ish." I do think it's a big deal that the FDA is finally (in October or so) going to specify what "Gluten-Free" on a label means, and what standards companies have to meet to qualify for such a designation.

The new labels will have a profound effect on the lives of millions of people.


Let me just say something here, something that I suspect is going to make me very unpopular among the mainstream gluten-free population:

The new FDA laws, whatever they may be, will have little (or no) effect on my normal life.


There, I said it.  It's out in the open now.

<but how can this be? gasp!>

Well, the first reason is I have so many food intolerances and restrictions, I have barely eaten anything labeled "gluten free" in the five years I've been gluten free.  I haven't tried the new GF Bisquick (and I'm not going to).  My box of Betty Crocker GF Devil's Food Cake Mix is still sitting unopened in my pantry.  (Thank goodness it was complimentary from the company!)  Nearly everything made and marketed to the gluten-free community contains potato starch, soy, canola oil, or something else that will make me ill.

To top that, the second reason is I recently went grain-free and stopped eating almost all processed foods.  And I feel wonderful, and so does my husband, so this is probably going to continue.  That means I no longer have any use for GF Rice Krispies, Glutino GF Crackers, or Udi's GF bread.  Not that they aren't all wonderful products, but they just aren't on my radar any more.

<so...what about things you CAN eat?>

Um, you mean, like meat?  Eggs? Seafood? Dairy? Fresh vegetables and fruit? Nuts? Well, the last I checked, those things are already gluten free.  Okay, yes, there are a few types of bleu cheeses out there that might contain gluten. So I am looking forward to the new labels for that reason. But for the most part, I only eat whole, natural foods now.  I don't need a label to tell me what's in them; I can already see the contents.

It's amazing how liberating it is to realize that no matter how the FDA writes their final version of the gluten-free labeling law, I am going to be able to eat safely and be healthy.

However, for those of you that do like the convenience of ready made food, don't forget that the FDA is soliciting comments for 60 days from August 3, 2011.  Do be sure to tell them how you feel.  Don't assume that they will just automatically get it right, okay?  It's up to you to take action to protect your own health.

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