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FDA Taking Steps To Make Sure Foods Labeled 'Gluten-Free' Actually Are

By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidelines for food manufacturers. Foods that are labeled "gluten-free" can no longer contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten.

These guidelines are voluntary, not mandatory, but those in the Celiac community and those who serve them hope it will pave the way for more accurate food labeling.

"What the food labeling does is that it gives members of our community confidence that when a food manufacturer is making a gluten-free claim...they can eat," says Alice Bast, President and CEO of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness based in Ambler, Montgomery County.

Officials at facilities who cater to thousands of visitors are constantly mindful to the plight of those with food sensitivities. Carrie Basta is the spokesperson for Dorney Park and she says information is key to the safety of their guests:

"We actually have a chef and food team management who go through all the products we use at every location -- go through all the labels of where that product comes from. Then we have a stand by stand list on our website with information as to what the potential allergy issues are."

Bast says the consequences of eating gluten can be devastating for those with Celiac:

"If someone with Celiac disease has anything with over 20 parts per million, it sets off an auto immune reaction, and leads to long-term health consequences such as cancer and even reproductive health issues."

While Bast hopes more manufacturers will follow the guidelines, she reminds those with Celiac to remain vigilant about reading food labels.

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