In comments filed last week, IDFA encouraged the Food and Drug Administration to be flexible in determining methods for dairy foods companies to prove the truthfulness of their gluten-free claims. Last November, FDA proposed a new rule that would require makers of fermented and hydrolyzed ingredients and foods, including yogurt and cheeses, to conduct testing and keep records to prove that the products prior to fermentation or hydrolysis meet the agency’s definition of gluten free.
In the comments, IDFA urged FDA to consider appropriate approaches to proving the accuracy of these gluten-free claims. IDFA noted that:
- Milk and many dairy products that are inherently gluten free should be exempt from these tests and recordkeeping;
- Testing should not be required for inherently gluten-free ingredients at the finished product manufacturer when there is no cross-contact;
- Testing for gluten content should only be at the frequency necessary to prove gluten-free claims; and
- Records regarding cross-contact should be flexible based on the ingredients and the facility.
IDFA agreed with the proposed rule that hydrolyzed or fermented foods made from dairy ingredients are inherently gluten free and less likely to come into contact with gluten before being processed. IDFA also agreed with the proposal’s suggestion that documentation from suppliers may be sufficient to prove gluten-free claims and suggested using the documentation to prove accuracy rather than requiring recurring tests of ingredients or products prior to fermentation or hydrolysis.
IDFA asked FDA to remove fluid milk as an example of an ingredient to test. “Since milk is inherently gluten free and is unlikely to come into contact with gluten, it should not be required to be tested, and should therefore not have been used as an example for testing,” said IDFA in the comments.
In addition, IDFA asked FDA to consider unique challenges to dairy foods with non-dairy fermented ingredients and suggested the exemption of inclusions like chocolate, where the ingredients are fermented soon after harvest and therefore are nearly impossible to test.
IDFA’s comments and FDA’s proposed rule are available online.
For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant, at email@example.com.