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New Gluten-Free Label Rules

August 20, 2013, 6:12 PM

New Gluten-Free Label Rules

From digestion problems to joint and muscle pain, people with celiac disease suffer from many side effects if they don't stick to a gluten-free diet. But for years, gluten-free labels have gone unregulated.

Just recently the Food and Drug Administration issued a ruling regarding the labels.

Gluten-free chips and salsa are on the menu for Sharla Scholl and Pam Groninger. The two Sioux Falls women were diagnosed with celiac disease more than six years ago. If they eat any food with gluten in it, they suffer.

"Anemia, fatigue is a big one, gas, bloating," Groninger said.

"There's a definite increase in cancer risk, so you really don't want to do any more damage in your body," Scholl said.

"Osteoporosis was actually caused from celiac disease," Groninger said.

While there are more gluten-free products in stores, manufacturers didn't face stiff regulations for labeling until now. The FDA issued a ruling saying a gluten-free food must have less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Hy-Vee/Avera Registered Dietitian Kristin Sousek says this is important because it can be difficult to figure out how much gluten is in a product. Barley, rye, and wheat all contain gluten.

"When they start masking it with the chemical names, then you almost need a chemical degree to know what you're looking for," Scholl said.

Despite the new regulations, Sousek says it's still important to look at the label. One thing you want to look for is that it's made in a dedicated, gluten-free bakery.

"You have to be in charge of knowing what's in your food and if it's safe or not," Sousek said.

Don't expect any changes at the supermarket soon. The FDA ruling will not take effect for another year.

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