FDA Clarifies Gluten-Free Regulation Impact on Restaurants

Recently the FDA updated the Question and Answer document related to the impact on restaurants who choose to label items gluten-free.
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm362880.htm#Labeling, question #9 now reads:

Does the final rule apply to gluten-free claims made for foods served in restaurants, including cafeterias and buffets?
FDA recognizes that compliance with the gluten-free rule in processed foods and food served in restaurants is important for the health of people with celiac disease.

In August 2013, FDA issued final rule that established a federal definition of the term ”gluten-free” for food manufacturers that voluntarily label FDA-regulated foods as “gluten-free.” This definition is intended to provide a reliable way for people with celiac disease to avoid gluten, and we expect that restaurants’ use of “gluten-free” labeling will be consistent with the federal definition. The deadline for compliance with the rule is not until August 2014, although we have encouraged the food industry to bring its labeling into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible.
Given the public health significance of “gluten-free” labeling, we encourage the restaurant industry to move quickly to ensure that its use of “gluten-free” labeling is consistent with the federal definition and look forward to working with the industry to support their education and outreach to restaurants.

In addition, state and local governments play an important role in oversight of restaurants. We expect to work with our state and local government partners with respect to gluten-free labeling in restaurants. We will consider enforcement action as needed, alone or with other agencies, to protect consumers.

GIG encourages all types of food services who offer gluten-free menu options to establish processes and procedures as outlined in the Gluten-Free Food Service Management and Training Certification program (GFFS). “As restaurants begin to figure out that there is money to be made by having a GF menu, it has become somewhat dangerous to dine out. Not all restaurants know what it means to be gluten-free, can correctly identify ingredients and preparation processes as being safe”, says Cynthia Kupper, Exec Director of GIG. “Food services need to have reliable and consistently followed processes in place to assure that when they say it is gluten-free, it really is gluten-free.”


To learn more about the Gluten-Free Food Service Management and Training Certification program (GFFS) visit https://www.gluten.net/programs/industry-programs/gluten-free-food-service/