Barley should be added to FALCPA and here’s why

Barley should be added to FALCPA and here’s why

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month 2018,

A series of bites, barks, tail wags, face licks, and pant tugs from Gluten Free Watchdog

May 24, 2018

Gluten Free Watchdog Bite, Post # 24

This is a modified post from CDAM 2017.

The information included in this post is not cause for undue alarm. But there is a reason why Canada and the European Union require sources of gluten, including barley to be declared in the ingredients list. It is high time the US did the same.

Barley is not included under Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act and consequently it is very hard to know where barley ingredients may lurk and how big an issue “hidden” barley might be.

Where are we finding barley?

Yeast extract, smoke flavoring, and a few other ingredients have been on my radar for years. But I did not become all that concerned until Health Canada changed their regulations to require the declaration of all gluten sources (including barley protein) in packaged food products. This new regulation is having some carryover into the US market.

Here are a few examples I’ve jotted down:

  • “Autolyzed yeast extract (barley)”
  • “Natural and artificial flavors (including barley protein)”
  • “Natural smoke flavor (contains organic malted barley flour)”

Information from FDA

These ingredient declarations and others led me to contact the FDA in 2014 with a number of questions about yeast extract, smoke flavor, and malt. Here is one exchange that still troubles me:

  • “Can the ingredient malt extract/malt syrup be included in the ingredients list as natural flavor?”
    • “The quick answer is it depends. While 182.1445 states that malt syrup is GRAS as a flavoring agent, one also has to consider the definition in 21 CFR 101.22 for purposes of labeling an ingredient as a natural flavor. In looking at 101.22, a natural flavor can be declared as such when its primary purpose is for flavoring and not nutritional. We need to look a little more deeply …”

If the food code is this confusing and uncertain to FDA staff, how in the world are manufacturers and consumers supposed to make sense of it?

Note: It has been over 4 years since my questions were submitted to FDA. Two years ago, I requested an update regarding my questions. The response: “I will have to check on the status and get back to you.  Sorry for the delay in getting a response.” I have not heard back. A follow-up request was sent this morning.

Call to Action

I am coming to the conclusion that the only way to figure out the ingredients that may at times contain barley protein is to somehow get barley added to FALCPA. As stated in yesterday’s post:

At some point down the road (once the FDA reaches a decision on our citizen petition) , it will be very helpful to mount a community-wide concerted effort to get barley added as an allergen under FALCPA. Doing so would mean that all ingredients (including incidental additives) containing protein from barley would have to include the word barley in either the ingredient name [e.g., natural flavor (barley)] or a Contains statement (e.g., Contains: Barley).

What you can do now

If you come across FDA-regulated food NOT labeled gluten-free that appears to be free of gluten-containing ingredients EXCEPT for barley in a parenthetical, such as “natural flavor (barley)” please take a photo of the ingredients list and send it to me.

If you are in Canada and you come across a product NOT labeled gluten-free that appears to be free of gluten-containing ingredients EXCEPT for barley in a parenthetical, such as “natural flavor (barley)” please take a photo of the ingredients list and send it to me.

If you contact a manufacturer in the US to ask whether an ingredient contains barley and you are told yes, please let me know.


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Comments (2)

  • Stefano Curotto Reply

    Dear Tricia, on this question (contrary to your opinion on Malt extract) I am joining your views. The EU legislation was adopted precisely because it was too controversial to find out when Barley had to be mentioned or not.
    Cutting that knot and deciding “you always have to name it”, even when at times its presence does not mean that the amount in the food is “relevant” (perceivable) by the Coeliac, is one solution.
    This is fair to Coeliacs, but unfair to the industry. Bevause obviously many Coeliacs will think “I cannot eat it…”. Whereas the truth, again, is that you are way beyond the 20 ppm of the sensitivity threshold. Think of the Flavour which made you so busy. Probably its content in the recipe is 0,1%. The Barley part is probably 1% of that 0,1% = 0,001%. The Gluten Protein content, in that Barley, will be max 8%, i.e 0,001 x 8/100 = 0,00008%.
    Translating that in ppm, we have 0,8 ppm (mg x kg of product)
    Therefore Coeliacs people themselves need to be educated, that not each Barley in the recipe can be dangerous for them, but only when the pack does not mention Gluten-Free. Producers first interest is to avoid a scandal and a person sick because of their food.

    November 26, 2020 at 1:16 am
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      FDA has taken the position that no amount of gluten can intentionally be added to foods labeled gluten-free. A consumer has no way to know by looking at a food label how much gluten a barley-based ingredient may contribute to a food. As for testing for gluten, please see my response to your comment on the post, “Did you know that in the US malt means barley malt in an ingredients list.”

      November 26, 2020 at 2:03 am

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