Call to Action: Barley protein should be added to FALCPA and here’s whyTricia Thompson
In Honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Gluten Free Watchdog is writing a series of articles (the goal is one per day during the month of May) related to the gluten-free diet–currently the ONLY treatment for celiac disease.
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.
Articles have posted this week on yeast extract made from spent brewer’s yeast (a by-product of beer brewing), and smoke flavoring made using barley malt flour as a carrier. Unfortunately, these are not the only ingredients that may contain barley protein. But because barley is not included under FALCPA* it is very hard to know where these ingredients may lurk and how big an issue “hidden” barley might be.
Note: Under FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) if a food or ingredient is or contains protein from wheat, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and Crustacean shellfish, this must be declared in either the ingredients list or Contains statement (e.g., Contains: Wheat).
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?
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:
If the US gluten-free community is up for a project, it will be very helpful to mount a community-wide concerted effort to get barley added as an allergen under FALCPA. Including barley under FALCPA 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.
Tomorrow’s post: USDA-regulated foods and gluten-free labeling