Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Summit Planned, and Not a Moment Too Soon

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM


One person in 133 is gluten intolerant, and they're joining forces to hold the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit. The group will host the May 4 event in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to get legislators and food producers to follow the 2007 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. The law called for the FDA to create standards in labeling gluten-free foods. Four years later it hasn't happened, so the growing legions of gluten-free activists are going to try to persuade lawmakers to get on the stick. The incentive?

The world's largest gluten-free cake.

May marks the first observation of National Celiac Awareness Month. Celiac disease, which causes gluten intolerance, is an autoimmune disorder triggered by consumption of gluten from wheat, barley and rye.

It's not soon enough for people who bought baked goods from Durham, North Carolina, "baker" Paul Seelig.

Seelig was sentenced to eleven years in prison this week for selling baked goods he labeled as gluten-free that weren't. He was convicted of 23 counts of obtaining property by false pretense. Seelig bought products such as bagels and bread, repackaged them with gluten-free labels and sold them at fairs and through home delivery.

Because the standards for gluten-free labeling haven't been instated, Seelig's conviction sets a precedent in making food producers responsible for what they label gluten-free.

While the gluten-free summit and cases like Seelig's are good news for honesty in food labeling, it probably won't do much to improve the quality of gluten-free products. Our San Francisco sister paper SF Weekly recently reviewed the new gluten-free hot dog at AT&T Park, home of baseball's Giants. Apparently it sucks.

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