Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Update on the FDA GF Labeling Law Study

OK, so the FDA released an update on the “gluten-free” Labeling study that is going on- this report is dated November 9, 2009- and the study that I took part in was on November 10th, but that was a focus group (my group was only 8 people) and there was a group before us, of about the same size. I am only aware of 2 such “focus groups” taking place, on in NJ, and the other was in CA. Our focus group showed us pictures of food labels and asked us which we preferred based on what the label said- some examples were the varying ways to list the term “``gluten-free'' (e.g., ``free of gluten,'' ``without gluten,'' ``no gluten''), in addition to other types of statements (e.g., ``made in a gluten-free facility'' or ``not made in a facility that processes gluten-containing foods'') on the food label.

Based on this report, I am not sure which “phase” of the study I was a part of- it definitely was not an “online survey” nor a “paper survey”- and was not 10,000 people. In this report, it did say in the comments area under comment #7-

“Comment 7) One comment asked that the questions be very clear.
(Response) FDA agrees that it is important that the study questions be unambiguous. To achieve this goal, FDA will conduct cognitive interviews prior to administering the main study, in which a trained interviewer goes through the questionnaire with adults with celiac disease and discusses whether the questions are understandable and valid.”


So, I wonder if this was the “cognitive interviews prior to administering the main study” to ascertain if the questions were unambiguous- or actually a “pre-interview” because they did not ask us the questionnaire, just our feedback on the pictures- so more likely this was a pre-interview in which they will use our comments to MAKE the questions, to THEN be interviewed, and THEN be distributed?

Either way, it’s exciting to see some more info and movement on this VERY important study and eventual label law!

My one concern is in the beginning where it says “In the proposed rule (72 FR 2795), FDA proposed a regulation to define the term ``gluten-free'' and to establish uniform conditions for its use in the voluntary labeling of foods”

VOLUNTARY?!?! Why would they do all this and make it “VOLUNTARY” - unless they are saying that people don’t HAVE to label their food gluten-free, but if they DO, it has to mean something (be legit). I guess this makes sense.

Here is the summary of what the study sets out to do:

FDA is planning to conduct an experimental study about gluten-free labeling of food products. The Gluten-Free Labeling of Food Products Experimental Study will collect information from both consumers who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance and those who do not have either condition. The purpose of the study is to gauge perceptions of characteristics related to claims of ``gluten-free'' and allowed variants (e.g., ``free of gluten,'' ``without gluten,'' ``no gluten''), in addition to other types of statements (e.g., ``made in a gluten-free facility'' or ``not made in a facility that processes gluten-containing foods'') on the food label. The study will also assess consumer understanding of ``gluten-free'' claims on foods that are naturally free of gluten, and gauge consumer reaction to a product carrying a
gluten claim concurrently with a statement about the amount of gluten
the product contains.


Here is the FDA Report link.... http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-27512.htm

-Sue

1 comment:

Ann Parry NY said...

So FDA's working on Voluntary labeling for GF (gluten free, free of gluten, not made in no facility that does not process no food that does not contain no gluten none of the time never) - thank you for that major clarification of their goal.

Fascinating glimpse of FDA food labeling process.