On Friday, May 22, 2020, the US FDA relaxed some of its food labelling requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The relaxation of the guideline is to provide temporary flexibility in food labels. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how this is going to go for those with celiac disease. Really, any food allergy will be affected by this change. I don’t think relaxing food label requirements is good. The FDA was already less than enthusiastic about enforcing their rules. Now, they’ve made the rules less stringent.
The FDA issued guidance for the relaxation of some of its labelling requirements. Normally, this type of regulatory change would be open for public comment. Often thirty days or so before the change took effect. The administration published these guidelines on the Friday before Memorial Day without public input. It seems as if the government did not care to hear from those that may be affected.
What does it say?
The guidance specifically says, “FDA is providing flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes in certain circumstances without making conforming label changes, such as making a change to product ingredients, without updating the ingredient list on the packaged food when such a minor change is made.” So, the manufacturer can replace an ingredient without updating the label. They use the example of swapping bleached flour in a product for unbleached flour.
Regarding the top 8 allergen labelling, it seems that labelling requirement remains. The guidance also says, “the ingredient being substituted for the labeled ingredient does not cause any adverse health effect (including food allergens, gluten, sulfites, or other foods known to cause sensitivities in some people, for example, glutamates).”
Here is another article written by a reputable source. The article talks about some of the issues with this that I didn’t even think about.
I’m not sure if this is going to make our lives more difficult or not. If it means we will get sick more or not. I don’t even know. But it means that we need to be more vigilant with what we buy.
How am I going to deal?
Here is how I would look at this. Whole foods are best. Certified gluten free foods are the next best. Here is what I wrote regarding certified gluten free foods.
If eating processed gluten free foods, maybe simply focus on trusted brands that focus on gluten diets – like Udi’s, Schar, and Glutino to name a few. There are many, many more but those are the ones I thought about quickly.
If there are no gluten containing ingredients, it might be a time to re-evaluate consuming those foods or contacting the manufacturer to ensure there is still no gluten containing ingredient.
Relaxing of these guidelines just is a reminder to eat whole foods as often as possible. Eating whole foods means you don’t have to think about whether a food has gluten or not and makes life much less stressful.
Two recipes I used this weekend!
Just to help, here is a recipe for a watermelon glazed chicken. Here a recipe for watermelon and feta salad to go with it. Both super easy, gluten free, and dinner is on the table fast! Time to take advantage and cook!