WASHINGTON -

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday published a new regulation defining the term "gluten-free" for voluntary food labeling.

In order to use the term "gluten-free" on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.


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The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”

The goal of the uniform standard definition is to help the up to 3 million Americans who have celiac disease better manage their condition.

“The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A Hamburg said in a statement.

Food manufacturers will have one year to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

The term "gluten" refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains. In people with celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of celiac disease patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk nutritional deficiencies and other health conditions.

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