- What is facial misbranding? We are defining facial misbranding to be when a product label displays a “gluten-free” claim but the ingredients list includes an ingredient that is prohibited under FDA rules from being contained in any product labeled “gluten-free” (e.g., barley malt, barley malt extract, barley malt syrup, wheat [except in limited circumstances with clear additional markings and language]).
- What is an example of facial misbranding? Chips labeled gluten-free yet containing barley malt extract are facially misbranded. And soy sauce labeled gluten-free yet containing wheat is facially misbranded.
- What is being asked of the FDA: Electronic Consumer Reporting FDA should establish a reporting system on its website for consumers/consumer groups to electronically report Facial Misbranding to FDA. Because Facial Misbranding is plainly evident from the face of the label itself, the reporting would need only require the uploading of product photos that illustrate the gluten-free claim and the ingredients list (e.g., the photos attached as Attachments 1 through 6), along with a simple form for consumer input of relevant information such as product name, “Best by” or “Use by” dates and lot numbers. Warning Letters and/or a “Facial Misbranding Initiative” In order to curtail consumer exposure to misbranded and dangerous products, FDA should routinely issue a Warning Letter based on Facial Misbranding within thirty (30) days of receipt of an electronically submitted report demonstrating Facial Misbranding has occurred. Alternatively, FDA could implement a “Facial Misbranding Initiative” under the Gluten-Free Labeling Rule, utilizing consumer submissions and information collected through other methods of surveillance.
Here is some additional information about Gluten Free Watchdog’s Citizen Petition based on your questions and comments:
- Why aren’t comments on the petition visible? Based on other petitions I’ve been involved with, there is a lag period between the time the comment is written and when it is posted to the docket.
- There is no place to sign the petition. These petitions do not allow for signing per se. Commenting takes the place of signing. A large number of comments will inform the FDA that this community stands by this petition. Your comment does not have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as “I support this petition from Gluten Free Watchdog” or “I have celiac disease and depend upon the accuracy of gluten-free labeling claims for my health.”
This petition has a simple and targeted “ask”—that FDA take steps to stop facial misbranding violations under the gluten-free labeling rule.