Tips for Reading Gluten Free Labels


In October of 2014 there was a new food labeling standard created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which went into effect for any product that made the claim of being “gluten-free.”

This new rule was created to make it easier for those who were intolerant to gluten or who suffered from celiac disease to shop for the foods that do not contain any gluten, thus making it safe to consume. For foods that claim to be free of gluten, no gluten, gluten free or without gluten, they have to now meet the following criteria:

  • They must not contain any gluten containing grain (barley, rye or wheat).
  • They must not have an ingredient that is derived from any gluten containing item that has not been processed to remove this gluten.
  • Have a gluten measurement that is 20 parts per million or less if there is an ingredient that has been derived from a grain that contains gluten.

In the past, there has been quite a bit of confusion regarding ingredients such as maltodextrin, natural flavorings and glucose syrup. The latest ruling has required that all the ingredients on the food’s label be listed and if they contain or have been sourced from any of the gluten grains.

An example of this would be when you look at wheat (maltodextrin) listed as an ingredient if the source is actually wheat. If the product has claimed that it is “gluten-free” but it has wheat identified on the actual ingredient list, then there is a special statement that must also be included. This statement will read that the wheat has been processed to the point that the food meets the gluten free food requirement set by the FDA.

Even though the mandate only covers foods that are packaged, which are overseen by the FDA, there are a number of other agencies, such as the USDA, which has also agreed to follow these standards of gluten free on egg products, eggs, packaged meats, poultry and other meat items. Additionally, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is also using the guidelines set by the FDA for labeling of alcohol products.

These rules have no impact on cosmetics or medications.

Essentially, the new label ruling from the FDA is benefiting both food companies and consumers. When a consumer purchases a product, they can feel confident that it is actually gluten-free. Recent studies found that most foods labeled as gluten free had less than 20ppm of gluten.

Food companies are also benefiting since there are now established standards issued by the FDA regarding how to label and manufacture products that are, indeed, completely gluten free.  To learn more, please visit