FDA/CDC

FDA clamps down on compliance for gluten-free products


 

To retain the label of “gluten free,” manufacturers of foods that are fermented and hydrolyzed, or that contain fermented or hydrolyzed ingredients, must make and keep detailed records of the manufacturing and production process, according to a final rule issued by the Food and Drug Administration.

In an announcement released on Aug. 12, the FDA stated that manufacturers must confirm that food products such as soy sauce, yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, and green olives, as well as distilled foods such as vinegar, meet the definition of gluten free before the fermentation or hydrolysis process. In addition, the rule states that “the manufacturer has adequately evaluated the potential for cross-contact with gluten during the manufacturing process; and if necessary, measures are in place to prevent the introduction of gluten into the food during the manufacturing process,” according to the FDA.

Gluten breaks down during fermentation and hydrolysis, and the gluten-free status of products manufactured in this way can’t be confirmed after the process using currently available methods, according to the FDA.

The new rule is designed to ensure that products labeled as gluten-free meet the definition of gluten free, which remains unchanged from the FDA guidance in 2013.

“The FDA continues to work to protect people with celiac disease, which impacts at least 3 million Americans,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, said in a statement.

“The agency has taken a number of steps on this front by first establishing a standardized definition of gluten free, and now by continuing to work to ensure manufacturers are keeping the products that are labeled with this claim gluten free,” he emphasized.

The final rule states that manufacturers will not need to keep such records if and when other analytical methods are developed, but in the meantime products that do not meet the definition will be deemed misbranded, according to the FDA.

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