The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce today that it is changing a planned consumer study of the gluten-free label.
Andrea Levario, executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, said the FDA plans to get input on the gluten-free label from a much larger and diverse group of people than originally planned.
The study, originally announced in March, will ultimately be used to test how effective the FDA's proposed definition for the term "gluten free" is. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires the FDA to come up with a definition, althought the August 2008 deadline for doing so has long passed.
The FDA said it was doing the study to find out what gluten-free consumers think of statements like "free of gluten," "without gluten," and "no gluten." The FDA also wants to know what consumers think of advisory statements like, "made in a gluten free facility."
The FDA accepted comments on the study and as a result revised how it will collect data. Originally the FDA said about 5,000 people would participate, including those who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance or care for someone who does. A control group made up of participants who do not have celiac disease was to be used for comparison.
In addition to the consumer study, the FDA is still reviewing a safety assessment a detailed study of how much gluten can safely be allowed in gluten-free food.
We will keep you posted as we learn more details.