When you’re eliminating gluten from your diet, you wonder if foods labeled “gluten-free” are really free of gluten. This is actually a really important question – especially if you have an allergy to gluten that causes life-threatening health problems.
There are very specific requirements for a food to be labeled gluten-free in the United States. These rules are determined by the US Food and Drug Administration. There are several tests a food must pass in order to get this designation.
One way a food can earn this label is if it doesn’t contain any wheat, barley, rye, or any grains that are crossbred with these. If these grains aren’t listed in the ingredients, then it may be considered gluten free. However, it has to pass the next test.
Another requirement is that if the product contains any of these grains, they must have been processed in such a way that the gluten was removed. Gluten can be removed from products through special manufacturing.
Finally, a food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. How would gluten get into a food that’s not made of wheat, barley, or rye? It can happen if it’s cross-contaminated with these grains in a manufacturing plant.
You really need to worry about this designation when it comes to foods or beverages that might contain gluten. However, there are many products that don’t contain gluten to begin with so they won’t be labeled “gluten-free”.
For example, fresh fruits and veggies are naturally gluten-free. They don’t require a label to advise the consumer. Unprocessed meats are also naturally gluten-free. You’ll only need to check for gluten if a meat is processed – such as deli lunch meat.
So the gluten-free label is important if you’re looking at processed foods. Another thing to keep in mind is that food companies aren’t required to add the “gluten-free” label to a product. So a product might be gluten-free but not be labeled as such.
However, most manufacturers want people to know that their product is gluten-free and will use that label if approved by the FDA. Especially the in case of celiac disease it’s important to know what foods you can trust and what foods you should pass up.
Understanding how to read food labels is critical if you want to live a gluten-free lifestyle. You can be pretty sure that the “gluten-free” label is accurate. If you’ve wondered are foods labeled “gluten-free” free of gluten – the answer is yes.