Food Labeling Laws - USA

Since 2006, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) requires manufacturers to identify on all food labels if the product contains protein derived from any of the eight major allergenic foods and food groups. These eight proteins are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybeans.

The requirement is to clearly mark all packaged products that contain any of these allergens in English. This also applies to domestically manufactured and imported products.

Labels may look this this:

Example 1. Ingredients: Wholewheat (36%), sultanas (26%), wheat bran (26%), sugar, barley malt extract, salt, humectant (glycerol), minerals (iron, zinc, oxide), vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate). Contains wheat.

Example 2. Ingredients: Wholewheat (36%) (wheat), sultanas (26%), wheat bran (26%) (wheat), sugar, barley malt extract, salt, humectant (glycerol), minerals (iron, zinc, oxide), vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate).



Some companies may use the “contains” statement as above or they will disclose the allergen in brackets i.e. Whole wheat (wheat). Either way is acceptable.

This requirement of declaring wheat is enough if you are only 'wheat free' but not if you are “gluten free”. Remember gluten is the protein found in wheat but also it is found in any product that includes rye, barley and possibly oats. This includes malt. Therefore, if the product says it is wheat free, you need to check the ingredient list for other gluten sources in case it actually contains gluten.

Unfortunately gluten has not been classified as one of the eight foods and food groups that are responsible for 90% of food allergies in the USA. Hopefully with time, this will change.



Some foods are naturally gluten free so it will not matter were you are in the world, these foods will be safe to eat:

Foods that are naturally Gluten Free . These include a large variety of foods such as:

  • Fats and oils
  • Milk (except flavored milk – you need to check the ingredient list)
  • Eggs,
  • Nuts, legumes and seeds
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • unprocessed meat (beef, lamb and pork), poultry and fish - cold meat bought from a delicatessen MAY contain gluten. Ask the shop assistant and check the ingredient list.
  • rice, corn (maize), sago, soy, tapioca, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, sorghum, quinoa and arrowroot.

Just imagine the yummy recipes you could just make from all these foods alone!!

Lets have a look at some safe foods you can eat.

Proposed Rule for "Gluten Free" term on labels

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to define the wording "gluten free"   This would be of great assistance to those suffering from celiac disease and those people who prepare food for them.   This rule would be used on a voluntary basis for companies wanting to clearly label their product as gluten free as long as the label meets the proposed regulatory definition.

The current proposal is to identify/mark food as Gluten Free as the food does not contain any more than 20 ppm (parts per million).

It will also mean the definition 'gluten free' will not contain:

  • a prohibited grain (wheat, rye, barley and crossbreds hybrids of wheat, rye and barley i.e. triticale)
  • a prohibited grain that has not been processed to remove the gluten; and
  • a prohibited grain and, that has been processed to remove the gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 ppm or more.
  • 20 ppm or more gluten.

So at this stage, we will have to wait until the FDA makes this proposed rule a law.   This will make it easier for consumers to be assured that foods bearing the "Gluten Free" label meets strict standards and confidence that the product is safe to eat on a gluten free diet.