The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) is happy to report that all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated products produced on August 5th, 2014 or later, and that claim to be "gluten-free", are required to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. Products that are produced on, or after, this date must meet the definition laid out by the FDA regulation or they will be considered misbranded.
Essentially this means that if a FDA-regulated product is labeled "gluten-free" and has a production date of August 5, 2014 or later, it is considered safe to consume. The rule also applies to the terms "no gluten", "free of gluten", and "without gluten". This is great news for the gluten-free consumer and should make label-reading even easier.
Consumers will still need to be careful as the regulation is voluntary. Manufacturers may still produce a gluten-free product but choose not to label it as "gluten-free". For products which are neither certified nor labeled "gluten-free", it is essential to read the ingredient list. It is important to remember that "wheat-free" is not the same as "gluten-free". Ingredients that are not gluten-free and should raise a red flag to you, the consumer, include:
Wheat (including all types of wheat such as spelt)
Oats (unless specifically labelled gluten-free)
Note that products manufactured before August 5, 2014 may still be on retail shelves after that date. These products were not required to comply with the regulation. This means that there is a possibility that some products will still be on the shelf on August 5th that do not meet the regulation definition. Should the manufactured date not be listed on the package, consumers can confirm production date by contacting the manufacturer.
These changes will also apply to dietary supplements but not to prescription or over-the-counter medications. Restaurant foods are also not covered by this new regulation but the FDA is encouraging the restaurant industry to move towards similar, consistent, gluten-free labeling.
The safest consumer decision will be to look for the GFCO Certified Gluten-Free logo on the product packaging. A product that carries a certification from GIG's Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is held to higher standards than those regulated by the FDA. GFCO certified items are required to have no more than 10 ppm (parts per million) of gluten in comparison to the FDA regulation which requires less than 20 ppm. All products certified by GFCO are considered safe for gluten-free consumers, regardless of the production date.