Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gluten-Free Labeling

Kathryn Muratore from
I was pleasantly surprised when some of my students chose to investigate chemical basis for the claims of gluten-free foods for their class project. Despite my fascination with food labeling, I had absolutely no influence on these students’ choice of a research topic. Among the things that they learned was that the FDA gluten-related regulations appear to be worded so that any company with a good legal team can get around the laws. This has allegedly led to serious illness and death for celiacs. They also found that a consumer advocacy group has more stringent rules for getting their seal of approval on gluten-free foods than does the FDA.

This was a chemistry project, not a policy project, so we didn’t delve into these revelations further. But I hope it underscored for these students that the government is incapable of putting the safety of the consumer first. At the very least, it was another example for me to warn LRC readers about: if you are a celiac, please, please, please do your own research and look for private certification on your foods.

UPDATE: Readers are requesting more information. The Gluten-Free Certification Organization is the private advocacy group that my students researched. Also, Whole Foods – that libertarian enterprise that provides excellent products and customer service – has their own gluten-free line which they test in-house.

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