Photo: LizLemonCooks, Flickr
In 2004, Congress gave the FDA until 2008 to create a definition for what a gluten-free product actually means. Three years after that deadline, we're still waiting.
The Washington Post reports that as celiac disease rates are rising, the government still has no set definition for gluten-free products.
Although the U.S. gluten-free product industry is booming (revenues were $2.6 billion last year, up from $100 million in 2003), they still have quite a bit of wiggle room. The Washington Post explains that some companies "might fail to test their products or might allow small amounts of gluten but still label their foods as gluten-free."
Other countries including Canada, Brazil and Australia have defined gluten-free foods as containing no more than 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. Though the FDA has no set definition, it does offer a FAQ page about gluten-free labeling.
On May 4, the world's largest gluten-free cake will be brought to Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue. Currently, at least three million Americans have celiac disease, and 18 million have gluten sensitivity.