New standards for gluten-free product labeling now in effect

New standards for gluten-free product labeling now in effect
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Under new FDA guidelines, products that say they are gluten-free must actually be gluten-free.

Before Tuesday, the term was unregulated, The Associated Press reports, and manufacturers were able to determine what "gluten free" meant on a case by case basis. Last year, it was announced that products with the words "gluten free" on the packaging must have less than 20 parts per million of gluten, essentially making them free of wheat, rye, and barley.

The move comes as more and more people become aware of celiac disease, which causes bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other issues, and is more intense than gluten sensitivity. "[This is] raising awareness that there is a disease associated with the gluten-free diet," Alice Bast of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness told The Associated Press.

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The American Celiac Disease Alliance says about three million Americans have celiac disease, and there's a lot of money to be made by offering this segment of the population — and the millions more cutting out gluten for other reasons — special products: Gluten-free food sales brought in about $4 billion last year. That's why the CEO of Boulder Brands, which owns gluten-free food companies Udi's and Glutino, is fine with the regulations. "If consumers can't have confidence in the products, long-term, it's going to hurt the overall trend," Steve Hughes said.

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