By Jennifer Iscol

The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 (FLMA) was introduced in Congress on August 3rd, and its purpose is to update food labeling requirements so that consumers can make more informed decisions. Among its improvements incorporating the latest nutrition science and public health priorities, the bill amends the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) to require that all gluten-containing grains be clearly labeled on packaged food.

If passed and signed into law, the bill would have a significant impact. “The FLMA is a game-changer for Americans with celiac disease and other gluten related disorders,” said Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, of Gluten Free Watchdog, which was an instrumental collaborator in helping draft this aspect of the bill.

Every milestone of progress in gluten-free labeling over the past two decades has been propelled forward by extensive grassroots lobbying. Your participation truly counts. Learn more about the bill below and take action today.

Take action!
It’s quick and easy. Your personal support for the bill is crucial.
Use the system provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation to urge your U.S. senators and representative to support the bill. Click HERE and scroll down on that page for the links.
You can also call or write to your members of Congress. Find them HERE.


What would the bill do?
The bill would help people with gluten-related disorders shop for groceries more safely and easily by requiring all gluten-containing grains to be clearly labeled, either in the ingredients list or immediately after in a “Contains” statement.

How is that different from current labeling?
Right now, of the three major gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye and barley), wheat is the only one that is required to be clearly labeled on all FDA-regulated foods due to its status as an allergen under FALCPA. Rye is generally too strong a flavor to be a “hidden ingredient.” Barley, however, can currently appear on food labels under a confusing variety of ingredient names (malt extract, dry smoke flavoring, yeast extract, beer, etc.) without an indication that it is a barley ingredient.

Would gluten be added to the list of allergens?
No, the bill does not add gluten or gluten-containing grains to FALCPA’s list of allergens. Wheat is already on the list, and the other gluten-containing grains (barley and rye) are not common allergens. Instead, the bill amends FALCPA to include gluten-containing grains under the same labeling requirements as major allergens.

Does the bill impact gluten-free labeling?
No, the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule for packaged foods is unchanged by the bill.

What about cross contact?
According to Tricia Thompson, “Cross contact is not covered under FALCPA.” Issues related to cross contact with gluten will need to be addressed in a different context than the current bill.

Does the bill impact drug labels?
No, gluten in over-the-counter and prescription medication is addressed in the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2021. However, it does impact supplements, which are included under FALCPA.

Are advisory statements regulated by this bill?
The bill does not address the largely unregulated statements that sometimes appear on food labels, such as “May contain wheat” or “Produced in a facility that also processes wheat.”

Would the bill impact the labeling of oats?
Although a small percentage of people with celiac disease cannot tolerate them, oats are not a gluten-containing grain and their labeling would not be impacted by this bill.

Would this bill better align U.S. labeling with other countries?
Yes. Many countries require all gluten-containing grains to be clearly labeled, including Canada, the United Kingdom, European Union countries, Australia and New Zealand.

Who are the bill’s supporters?
The Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 (H.R. 4917/S.2594) was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ed Markey (D-MA). Supporters include Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Reports, Environmental Working Group, Gluten Free Watchdog, Celiac Disease Foundation, National Celiac Association, Beyond Celiac and Gluten Intolerance Group. The Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California joins in supporting the bill.

What will help the bill become law?
Widespread outreach to our members of Congress will help attract additional legislative cosponsors and generate the kind of short-term and long-term political momentum that leads to change. Call or email your legislators or use the easy links provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation (scroll down on that page to see the links).

Resources for more information:
House Committee on Energy & Commerce press release
Gluten Free Watchdog
Celiac Disease Foundation
Center for Science in the Public Interest and CSPI downloadable Fact Sheet