Can you trust your gluten-free label? Not often enough.
A surprising number of foods — from cookies to salads to sauces — are misbranded as gluten-free when they contain ingredients not permitted under that label by the Food and Drug Administration, according to dietitian Tricia Thompson, founder of the advocacy group Gluten Free Watchdog.
For instance, Thompson has identified supposed gluten-free products containing barley malted( barley is a gluten-containing grain ), sauces with wheat-based soy sauce and cookies with spelt( a wheat flour ).
“There is so much misunderstanding out there, “ Thompson told HuffPost. “The store selling[ that] cookie initially and erroneously responded that spelt is a grain but not wheat.”( It turned out that the cookie did not contain spelt, and that the label itself was wrong, which is another problem in itself .)
Mislabeling is so pervasive that in August 2017, Gluten Free Watchdog filed a citizen petition with the FDA. The petition, coauthored by Thompson and lawyer Kaki Schmidt, asks the regulator to allow direct, electronic consumer reporting of deceptive labels and to routinely issue warning letters to companies contravening gluten-free rules. In the last two years, Gluten Free Watchdog said it has reported over 30 mislabeled products that violate FDA regulations.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m screaming into the wind, ” said Thompson, who had been on the phone with a manufacturer until 9 p. m. the night before. “I’m exhausted from talking to so many manufacturers and trying to educate them.”