|Jules Shepard & John Forberger building the cake|
Make that an 11 foot 2 inch cake assembled before a grass roots crowd of gluten-free enthusiasts in a downtown Washington, D.C. hotel.
Mike Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, told the celiac disease and gluten intolerant audience at the 1in133 cake-building event that he has heard "loud and clear" that they want a definition for gluten free. "We absolutely understand why you are here and why it is important," he said. "We will get it done."
The FDA was supposed to approve a definition by 2008, but it's proposed 20 parts per million gluten-free standard has been in limbo for years. That leaves it up to individuals companies to decide what it means when they use a gluten-free label, from those that use rigorous testing to assure no gluten from cross contamination is in a food or get outside certification that includes testing to others that don't test at all.
Taylor said the delay in an FDA definition comes from a thorough scientific safety evaluation and peer review that has caused the FDA to take a hard look at the proposed 20 ppm cut off for foods labeled gluten free. While 20 ppm is still "on the table," Taylor said the FDA has been investigating whether lower levels should be considered.
"We want to get it right and we want it to be grounded in science," Taylor said. "This will be the basis for what it safe."
He predicted the FDA in a few weeks will finally release the long-awaited safety evaluation and open it to public comment.
Credit for the clamor goes to the organizers of the 1in133 cake event, which swelled from email and Internet conversations between two people with celiac disease who had never met to a movement that has so far generated nearly 9,000 signatures on a petition to the FDA asking for action.
|Couldn't resist taking pic with cake|