Monday, March 09, 2009

FDA Wants Input on Gluten-Free Labeling

"The FDA is charged with ensuring the safety of $417 billion worth of domestic food and $49 billion worth of imported food each year. That's no small task," observed a recent Chicago Tribune editorial ("Peanut Peril," March 7, 2009).

One part of the FDA's big task involves examining issues related to labeling food as "gluten-free." Here's info on a proposed study, garnered from a FDA web page on the project:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing an opportunity for public comment on the proposed collection of certain information by the agency.....Federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information and to allow 60 days for public comment in response to the notice. This notice solicits comments on a voluntary consumer study entitled "Gluten-Free Labeling of Food Products Experimental Study."

* * *

The Gluten-Free Labeling of Food Products Experimental Study will collect information from both consumers who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance and those who do not have either condition. The purpose of the study is to gauge perceptions of characteristics related to claims of "gluten-free" and allowed variants (e.g., "free of gluten," "without gluten," "no gluten"), in addition to other types of statements (e.g., "made in a gluten-free facility" or "not made in a facility that processes gluten-containing foods") on the food label. The study will also assess consumer understanding of "gluten-free" claims on foods that are naturally free of gluten, and gauge consumer reaction to a product carrying a gluten claim concurrently with a statement about the amount of gluten the product contains.

The data will be collected over the Internet from samples derived from two sources: (1) A membership list from a celiac disease special interest organization and (2) an online consumer panel. Participation in the study is voluntary.

* * *

FDA invites comments on these topics: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of FDA's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of FDA's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality,
utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques, when appropriate, and other forms of information technology.

* * *

DATES: Submit written or electronic comments on the collection of information by May 5, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Submit electronic comments on the collection of information to Submit written comments on the collection of information to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with the docket number [FDA-2009-N-0083]....

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonna Capezzuto, Office of Information Management (HFA-710), Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, 301-796-3794.
So be sure to check out the FDA web page devoted to this project, put together your thoughts, feel free to air them here, and make sure you hit the May 5 deadline!

I'll offer my two cents eventually.

Thanks to Shelley Case for promptly spreading the word online.

No comments: