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A Capitol Day for Gluten Free
May 5, 2011
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Washington, DC. and I'm not talking about the weather. The gluten-free community came together to push forward a common cause: gluten-free labeling standards.
This all started with an impressive cake stunt, a gorgeous tower of confection pulled off by a dedicated team led by cookbook author Jules Shepard, John Forberger and professional baker Lee Tobin of Whole Foods. These hard-working people toiled night and day to construct the world's tallest gluten-free cake in DC's Embassy Suites hotel. They were joined by policy advocates - Beth Hillson and Andrea Levario of the American Celiac Disease Alliance - and by manufacturers (Glutino, King Arthur Flour, Nu-World Amaranth). Then came the medical and research communities (represented by the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research and the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center) and national celiac associations, like the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten Intolerance Group. Adding to these were those living with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Together, we had a powerful thing going on here in the nation's capital.
The quick background: U.S. Congress signed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) into law in 2004. This covered labeling of the top 8 food allergens but not gluten. The FDA was tasked in 2007 with finalizing standards for gluten-free labeling but has never moved on it. The goal of yesterday's activities? To get the FDA going.
We've waited too long! We need standards for gluten-free labeling!
Living Without magazine was a very proud to be a sponsor of this important event. Food editor Beth Hillson and I spent the day visiting Congressional offices with a team of other GF advocates. With one strong and clear voice, our diversified group sounded the alarm and spread the word about the importance of regulatory standards for gluten-free labeling. Meeting U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D, MN) was a standout for me. Rep. McCollum is gluten sensitive and she has a sister with celiac disease. She was exceptionally well informed about the disease, as well as all the issues involved with living gluten free and eager to help our cause. In the evening, FDA deputy commissioner for foods Mike Taylor and senior advisor for strategic communication Sharon Natanblut attended the cake reception and met with us. The last words Mike Taylor said to the crowd were: "We will get it done!"
Let's hold him to those words.
Yesterday could be the turning point for living safely without gluten - but only if we keep the momentum alive. Please let your Congress person know that gluten-free labeling standards are critically important to you. Click here to send your message: www.capwiz.com/celiac/home.