House CallJun/Jul 2012 Issue

Celiac Bill of Rights

Three million Americans have celiac disease and an estimated 18 to 20 million more are gluten sensitive. To serve this growing population, gluten-free prepared products are popping up on grocery store shelves in record numbers. This year, sales of gluten-free products are expected to reach $2.5 billion. According to one research group, the gluten-free market will exceed $5 billion in sales by 2015.

All this activity makes the gluten-free label a popular marketing buzzword. The good news is that gluten-free consumers have more choices than ever before. But are these products truly safe?

In the absence of federal labeling regulations, manufacturers can jump on the gluten-free bandwagon without understanding (and addressing) the medical implications of cross contamination. Ingredients may be sourced from plants that don’t adequately scrub their lines or double-check their manufacturing processes.

Living Without magazine believes that safe food products are the right of every American who is living with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Gluten-free consumers should be able to:

■  Rely on manufacturers to produce food products that are safe from gluten contamination.

■  Rely on the federal government to provide uniform standards and regulations for labeling gluten-free foods, beverages, medications and personal care products.

■  Rely on food companies to accurately label all product ingredients.

■  Rely on restaurants to provide accurate information about menu items and food preparation.

■  Rely on grocery stores to regularly stock gluten-free products that are manufactured using safe practices.

■  Rely on the airlines, buses and trains to provide accommodation for gluten-free travelers.  

■  Rely on schools and colleges to accommodate students with special dietary needs.

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