FDA Defines Gluten-Free for Food Labeling

By: Jill Nowak, RD, CDE, registered dietitian at CHOC

Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods
On August 2, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a long awaited final rule defining “gluten-free” (GF) for food labeling.  This  GF ruling  will now mandate food manufacturers to follow practices to ensure food labeled  either “gluten-free”, “without gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “no gluten”  must meet a threshold standard of <20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.   This threshold is the amount that can consistently be detected in foods using valid scientific analytical tools, as well as the level shown through research to be tolerated with the majority of people with celiac disease.  Now individuals requiring a GF diet will feel more confident when selecting food products labeled GF.

What is a Gluten-Free Diet?
Following a GF diet involves removing gluten from the diet and avoiding cross-contamination when preparing food.  Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, which is found in most breads, pastas, breakfast cereals, baked goods and crackers.  In addition, hidden sources of gluten are found in foods such as soups, sauces, and gravies.  Proper food preparation at home and when dining out is essential to avoid cross-contamination from products with gluten coming into contact with GF products.

Celiac disease is one particular disease where treatment requires following a strict GF diet.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disorder affecting approximately 3 million Americans, with at least 83% of people remaining undiagnosed.  When a person with celiac disease eats gluten an immune-mediated response causes damage to the small intestines and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. A host of other symptoms may also occur.

In recent times the GF diet has become somewhat of a fad diet.  One should think twice before following this diet, however, due to possible nutritional deficiencies and weight gain that may occur because many gluten-free products are made with highly processed, unenriched flours and added fat and sugar.  It’s strongly recommended that a person who requires a GF diet seek nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian.  Eating well on a GF diet is possible — aim for eating GF whole grains, choose enriched or fortified GF grains, cook with less fat, eat more fiber rich foods, and calcium rich foods.

Try out this delicious recipe along with other GF recipes at www.livingwithout.com

GF Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs
1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
7 ounces slim green beans, trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
– Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup small basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon snipped chives

1. Cook quinoa in plenty of gently boiling water for about 12 to 15 minutes or until it softens (organic quinoa may take a few minutes longer). Tip quinoa into a fine sieve, making several steam holes through it with a skewer, and let it drain.

2. Plunge green beans into a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain and rinse with plenty of cold water to stop the cooking. Dry off on paper towels.

3. In a large bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic and mustard together with ½ teaspoon salt and plenty of black pepper. Add quinoa and toss to coat with dressing.

4. Just before serving, stir in green beans, tomatoes and herbs. Serve immediately.
Each serving contains 184 calories, 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 122mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein.

To learn more, check out these helpful links:

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