By Yasmeen Abutaleb
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Aug 02 - Labels declaring foods to be "gluten-free" will need to meet new standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The standards, announced on Friday, are designed to protect patients with celiac disease.
Under the new rules, any food bearing a gluten-free label must contain less than 20 parts per million. The European Union and Canada have implemented the same gluten-free standards.
Food manufacturers have one year to comply with the rule. Foods labeled "no gluten," "free of gluten" and "without gluten" must also meet the standard.
"It's enormously important for these people to have as much variety to choose from as possible," Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in an interview.
The FDA believes most foods with a gluten-free label currently meet the standard, Taylor said.
The FDA began examining potential regulations more than six years ago when Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, requiring the FDA to develop guidelines for gluten-free labels.
The agency proposed gluten-free regulations in 2007 but did not finalize them. The delay came from scientific assessments, interaction with the celiac community and a safety assessment to validate 20 parts per million as a safe cut-off level, Taylor said.
The FDA's final rule is here: https://1.usa.gov/138Mg5j.
Reuters Health Information © 2013