Reclaim Gluten-Free: Help Stop the Misuse of the Term Gluten-Free by Restaurants
The term gluten-free has a regulatory definition. This definition was created because of celiac disease. Only those restaurants that are able to provide appropriate meals for folks with celiac disease should use it.
What the FDA says about gluten-free claims and restaurants: “If restaurants or other retail food establishments wish to make “gluten-free” claims (or the synonymous claims “no gluten” “free of gluten” or “without gluten”) for any of their menu items, these foods should meet all of the requirements FDA has established for a food labeled gluten-free, including not containing 20 parts per million or more gluten, whether or not the presence of gluten is due to accidental cross-contact occurring in the kitchen. If restaurants cannot ensure that the foods they prepare fully comply with FDA’s definition of gluten-free, restaurants should not refer to their foods as being “gluten-free.” (From https://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/restaurants-and-gluten-free-labeling-claims/).
Let’s remember why we have a gluten-free labeling rule: “Need for the rule: … Celiac disease has no cure, but individuals who have this disease are advised to avoid all sources of gluten in their diet to protect against adverse health effects associated with the disease…Establishing in this final rule a regulatory definition of the food labeling term “gluten-free” and uniform conditions for its use in the labeling of foods is necessary to ensure that individuals with celiac disease are not misled and are provided with truthful and accurate information with respect to foods so labeled.” (From https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2013/08/05/2013-18813/food-labeling-gluten-free-labeling-of-foods)
If you come across a restaurant menu that has a gluten-free menu or marks certain menu items as gluten-free BUT includes a disclaimer that the menu item is not meant for someone with celiac disease, please do the following:
- Share the pdf letter available at this link with the restaurant.
- Send photos of the gluten-free menu and the disclaimer to Gluten Free Watchdog for posting on social media. Please note that this request applies only to the term gluten-free. While there may be a dislike of the term “gluten-friendly” this is not an FDA-defined term.
- Contact an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator and file a complaint. FDA has stated, “FDA will continue to work with partners in state and local governments with respect to gluten-free labeling in restaurants.”See https://www.fda.gov/safety/report-problem/consumer-complaint-coordinators