WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Companies that make and sell products purporting to be "gluten-free" are now subject to the scrutiny of federal regulators.
A year ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told food manufacturers they had exactly twelve months to ensure all of their "gluten-free" claims were legit -- that all gluten-free products really were void of wheat, rye, barley or any of their derivatives. Their time is up.
As of this week, regulators can take action against food makers whose products feature suspect "gluten-free" claims.
"This standard 'gluten-free' definition eliminates uncertainty about how food producers label their products," said Felicia Billingslea, director of FDA's division of food labeling and standards. "People with celiac disease can rest assured that foods labeled 'gluten-free' meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA."
For the roughly three million Americans with celiac disease, avoiding gluten entirely is the only safe course of action. Some doctors suggest millions more have some form of gluten intolerance, a less severe but still potentially painful and aggravating condition.