Grassroots and Gluten Free: A Labeling Summit
I’m going to Washington, DC, on May 4. Truthfully, I love touring around Washington--but this visit is different.
I am wearing the hat of a gluten-free activist. It’s a hat I have not worn since I worked to help pass the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) in 2004. And before that, well, let’s just say I was in college wearing bell bottoms and beads.
Something very special, very important is happening in Washington, D.C. on May 4 and it will affect all of us who are gluten-free, know someone who needs this diet, or work in a supporting role in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I want to be part of this. In fact, my son is coming. Alicia Woodward, Living Without’s editor, will be there. (Living Without is a sponsor.)
I’m talking about the gluten-free Labeling Summit and Cake Building event. As they say on the web site 1in133, “It’s a Big Deal.”
This began several months ago as the brainchild of cookbook author Jules Shepard and John Forberger. And it has turned into a monumental grassroots effort to tell lawmakers we need the gluten-free labeling regulations that have been mired in FDA bureaucracy for nearly three years.
I feel strongly about the need for gluten-free labels and accountability from manufacturers, and I’m thrilled about the big stir this event is creating. The American Celiac Disease Alliance, the organization that led our community effort resulting in passage of FALCPA, will receive the proceeds from this event. The ACDA recently launched a letter-writing campaign and look what happened: In two days, 700 letters were sent to U.S. Senators and Representatives and over 30 days, 3,500 letters have gone to Secretary Sebelius (HHS) and Commissioner Hamburg (FDA). That IS a big deal.
The notion that we might be able to influence something that is so crucial to our lives and the lives of our families resonates right down to my gluten-free core. It’s not often that I would pack up in the middle of the week and fly to DC to see a giant cake. But I would not miss this.
Now, in the name of full disclosure, I am a volunteer with the ACDA and serve as the president. I do so because I believe it is a way to make a difference in my life and that of my family. I have a son and a sister with celiac disease and I was diagnosed in the 1970s--right after I packed away my bell bottoms.
I share the frustration and concern of parents, patients, food manufacturers and health care professionals about a lack of standards that allows companies to place 'GF' stickers on all sorts of products, including bottled water. Come on. Without a standard, there is no way to determine if companies are testing products or verifying ingredients, and the health and safety of the consumer is at risk.
On May 4, gluten-free chefs will be constructing the world's tallest gluten-free cake, and individuals from the celiac community will be meeting with Senators and Representatives to let them know the FDA needs to finish the gluten-free labeling regulations.
You can be part of this, too. Write and tell Congress you want gluten-free regulations now. Click here for more info.
In addition, to learn how you can get involved and support this labeling summit and cake event, go to www.1in133.org. And come to Washington, meet with your own Congressional representatives and stop by for cake.
Well, it’s time for me to dig out my bell bottoms and beads. What about you? Will you join this grassroots effort? Will you help make a difference?