As CEO and President of Elevation Brands, parent company of Ian’s, an allergy-friendly food provider, I am always on the lookout for ways to make our products as safe as possible for consumers with food allergies. At Ian’s, the whole team has been working hard to optimize our facilities as well as our labeling to ensure that our products deliver transparency and trust! This being said, when I read that the FDA decided to standardize gluten-free labeling, I was truly elated to learn that the standard of food safety and labeling transparency has reached a higher, and necessary, level.
These new regulations will make the meaning of gluten-free clear and standardized on food labels. The FDA limit is 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods to be labeled as “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten,” as this limit is said to be an acceptable amount for those with celiac disease.
This news is likely to be a relief for the estimated one in 133 Americans who have celiac disease and the estimated 83% of Americans with celiac disease who are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.1 Complications can occur when a gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive person unknowingly ingests foods containing harmful levels of gluten. Some of the complications resulting from accidental gluten ingestion include malnutrition; decreased calcium levels and osteoporosis; lactose intolerance; neurological disorders; miscarriage and congenital malformations; poor growth in children; and even gastrointestinal cancers.2 A new labeling procedure means awareness will be increased and more people will be able to eat better and consequently, feel better.
Plainly said, this new standardization is a big deal. It allows for transparency and creates increased credibility in manufacturer-to-consumer relationships because the regulations encourage manufacturers to test and verify and to set internal policies for compliance. Engaging in these diligent practices will positively ensure that consumers’ products are free of wheat, rye and barley.
At Ian’s, our concern and understanding of celiac disease and food allergies is not new. We have a longstanding commitment to substantiating our gluten-free claims — our threshold for gluten is 10 ppm, but our gluten-free products consistently test below 5 ppm of gluten, which is the lowest detectable limit for most tests.
I am excited to see the impact that labeling will have to help people know what is in their foods. They will be able to easily focus on a healthful pattern of eating rather than arduously picking apart complicated food labels. My team and I are committed to staying abreast of the latest testing methodologies concerning gluten and food allergens. Eating should be simple, and people deserve to know what they are eating, and this starts with labels. Regulating food labels is indeed a giant step in the right direction toward a trusted allergy-friendly food supply. WF
1. National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
2. National Institute of Health
Chuck Marble is the CEO and president of Elevation Brands.