Every product labeled gluten-free is not gluten-free.
In a Gallup poll, one in five Americans say they actively try to include gluten-free foods in their diet. Gluten is known to cause celiac disease, an autoimmune condition. Following a gluten-free diet is beneficial in preventing celiac disease. Up to three million Americans have celiac disease.
If food safety rules weren’t in place, there would be more sick people around. Thankfully, there are standards that ensure our public health safety.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FSIS is responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, as well as correctly labeled and packaged.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages companies to monitor any alleged violations in order to avoid Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) violations and criminal prosecution. If a violation is suspected, the FDA will give the alleged offender the opportunity to correct unlawful conduct before taking further action. Companies can be fined for violations for food that is mislabeled.
Food is mislabeled if it:
● Has a false or misleading label;
● Is offered for sale under the name of another food; or
● Is an imitation of another food unless it is prominently labeled “imitation”
On October 30, Joseph Epstein Food Enterprises, Inc. voluntarily recalled approximately 190 pounds of turkey meatball products due to misbranding. The product was re-called because it was found to contain an excess of the maximum gluten allowed.
Sometimes problems with misbranding can happen during manufacturing; as in the case of General Mills. On October 5, General Mills voluntarily recalled several days of production of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios cereal produced at one of their Lodi, California facility in July, after wheat flour mistakenly got mixed up in the gluten free oat flour system.
Allowing the mixture of wheat flour to remain with gluten free oat flour could have with potential adverse health effects. Food allergy is known to affect 5 in 100 young children and 3-4 in 100 adults. If a product labeled gluten-free has a small trace of nut, milk or wheat flour, then a person with a food allergy who eats it can become sick. Symptoms food allergies are seen through:
● Gastrointestinal disturbance
● Behavioral problems
● Often triggering of asthma
Thank goodness for companies in the U.S. that speak up when they notice errors committed instead of waiting for the government to take action for them.