Getting into the weeds with FDA: Can gluten-free bread carry an “enriched gluten-free bread” claim?
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 16, 2018
Gluten Free Watchdog Bite, Post # 16
Question: Can gluten-free bread carry an “enriched gluten-free bread” claim?
Why: In a conversation with the FDA, a dietitian colleague and I were advised that the term “enriched” cannot be declared on the label of a gluten-free food that has an “equivalent” wheat-based product with a standard of identity. In other words, a gluten-free bread, roll, or bun cannot be labeled “enriched bread” because the gluten-free bread does not meet the FDA’s standard of identity for enriched bread (e.g., a gluten-free bread cannot meet the standard of identity requirement because it does not contain wheat). It also remains somewhat murky as to whether (and when) nutrients may be added to gluten-free breads, pastas, etc.
The FDA regulates the term “enriched” when used on a food label to describe a standardized food, such as “enriched bread.” Products including enriched bread, enriched flour, enriched macaroni products have standards of identity. Only certain nutrients are allowed to be added to these products and then only in specific defined amounts. Vitamins and minerals that must be included are thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and iron.
Many of the refined wheat-based products available in the grocery store are enriched with B-vitamins and iron. These products provide a large percentage of American intakes of these nutrients.
Note: Keep in mind that refined gluten-free cereal grain foods (e.g., breads, pastas, flours) typically are NOT enriched.
What is enrichment?
Enrichment when used on a food label generally means that vitamins and minerals originally present in food but lost during processing were added back. For example, when a whole grain such as brown rice is milled to make white rice or white rice flour, the outer bran and germ are removed, leaving the starchy endosperm. Stripping grains of bran and germ also strips them of many nutrients.
History of enrichment in the US (from the Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide by Tricia Thompson, McGraw-Hill, 2008)
“Government recommendations to enrich flour and bread products with the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin (as well as iron) were first made in the early 1940s. These recommendations came about because of the poor nutritional status of enlisted men during World War II, as well as the identification of specific vitamin deficiency diseases related to poor dietary intake of B vitamins. Deficiency disease such as pellagra (due to poor niacin intake) and beriberi (due to poor thiamin intake) are rarely seen in the United States today, largely eliminated by enrichment of cereal grains.”
But again, refined gluten-free cereal grain foods (e.g., breads, pastas, flours) typically are NOT enriched and according to the FDA they are not allowed to be enriched.