New regulations governing gluten-free labels on food in the US have been introduced by the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The body has said the move is necessary as a result of an increasing proportion of the population being formally diagnosed with coeliac disease, where the sufferer is allergic to gluten.
When a person with this condition does consume gluten, it can lead to a number of different symptoms, including bloating, abdominal pain, severe weight loss, malnutrition and even prohibited growth development among children. There is currently no cure, so patients have to effectively manage their diet.
It is an issue that has already been recognised in the UK, with supermarkets and food manufacturers both actively taking steps to promote gluten-free products on their labelling.
However, the US has been comparatively slow in adopting the same stance, with the FDA only introducing a definition of what actually constitutes an item to be classified as gluten-free in August.
This measure was originally taken because there were no existing guidelines regarding whether or not food or drink could reasonably be labelled as gluten-free. As a result, there were some occasions where products were being consumed by coeliac patients on the assumption they were safe for them to be exposed to, when this wasn't always necessarily the case.
The FDA has now moved to draw a line under the issue completely by stating that any food claiming to be gluten-free cannot contain any gluten-based grains or products derived from gluten-containing products.
It added that the maximum proportion of gluten allowed in such food should be no more than 20 parts per million, which equates to less than 20 mg per kg.
Food Navigator reports that nearly 99 per cent of gluten-free foods are compliant with these regulations, with just 1.1 per cent displaying this label misbranding their contents.
Posted by Simon Tourle