The Food and Drug Administration finally has wrapped up its work on the regulations to define "gluten-free" for food labeling purposes. But don't get too excited: the rules still need to clear one more regulatory hurdle before taking effect, and that may delay them some more.
Capital Hill watchdog publication The Hill reports today that the regulations -- which define "gluten-free" as less than 20 parts per million of gluten -- have arrived at the White House from the FDA for review. The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) still must pass on the regulations before they can be finalized.
Right now, OIRA is reviewing 143 rules and proposals, according to The Hill. The White House has imposed a 90-day review time limit, but 84 of those 143 rules and proposals have been waiting longer than that. In addition, the regulation has been deemed "economically significant," meaning it has a cost of $100 million or more on the economy ... and meaning it will be scrutinized more carefully before receiving its final approval.
However, the gluten-free rules also are not considered particularly controversial -- not to mention, the FDA wants them finalized quickly -- so they may move through the process more swiftly than some other regulations under review.
The FDA has been working on these regulations since 2005. In the process, the agency has held two rounds of public comment periods, has conducted a research study on consumers' reactions to possible gluten-free labels, and has issued a hazard assessment on gluten exposure in people with celiac disease.
Learn more about the long road to an FDA gluten-free definition here: FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Rules
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