Rachel Begun, RD:  A lot of people don’t realize that prior to the ruling, the term “gluten free” on food packages was an arbitrary term. So what it meant for one food manufacturer was vastly different than for another. Some GF manufacturers who were very loyal to the community were taking the utmost precautions to prevent gluten contamination, and they were already meeting that less than 20ppm [level] or going even lower if they were using third-party certification. All of the third-party certification organizations test to at least 10ppm and there is one that even tests to 5ppm.

But then there are other manufacturers that weren’t necessarily taking the proper precautions. They may have been using all gluten-free ingredients, but they weren’t going above and beyond to make sure that there was no cross-contact with gluten. It made it really confusing and frustrating and even dangerous for people who have to eat gluten free. [People] were literally spending hours in the supermarket or on the phone with manufacturers trying to determine if the product was truly safe for them to eat.

[With the new standard,] gluten free now means one thing across the board. And now the consumer can feel pretty confident that when they see “gluten free” on a food package, it’s safe to eat. I think it definitely is a victory for the gluten free community.

[One caveat: This ruling only applies to FDA-regulated products; that does not include meat, fish, and poultry.] People should not walk into the supermarket and think that every food is covered under the ruling; it’s not.