Frito-Lay in gluten-free labeling initiative

by Eric Schroeder
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PLANO, TEXAS — Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo, Inc., has launched a multi-year initiative to validate many of its products as gluten-free, with package labeling to follow. The gluten-free claim that Frito-Lay is adding to qualified products appears in the form of a “GF” icon and/or a statement on the back of the bag. Changes to packaging are being phased in and may take some time, the company said.

Frito-Lay stressed that it is not removing gluten from products, but rather, it has developed a gluten-free validation process with input from the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program and the Celiac Disease Foundation (C.D.F.) for testing ingredients and finished products to ensure they contain less than 20 parts per million (p.p.m.) of gluten before making a “gluten-free” claim. The 20 p.p.m. level is in accordance with the limit set forth by the Food and Drug Administration in its proposed rule for gluten-free labeling back in 2007.

In partnering with the C.D.F. and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (N.F.C.A.), Frito-Lay said it hopes to educate consumers and health professionals about gluten-free resources and options. Activities through Frito-Lay’s partnerships will include development of educational content in English and Spanish, and cross promotion through social media channels, the company said.

“We understand that living with gluten sensitivities can present some challenges, and when you or a loved one is diagnosed it can be overwhelming and confusing,” said Kari Hecker Ryan, Ph.D., R.D., group manager of nutrition science and regulatory affairs, Frito-Lay North America. “We are doing our due diligence to ensure that our validated products comply with the proposed standards by testing ingredients and finished products, so the shopper can trust our gluten-free claim.”

Alice Bast, president of the N.F.C.A., noted that because gluten-free grocery shopping may be stressful at times, having familiar brands willing to make a gluten-free commitment is important.

“Frito-Lay’s effort to provide its customers with easy-to-access information is commendable and we would like to see more national brands embrace this level of clarity,” Ms. Bast said. The N.F.C.A., through its web site (celiaccentral.org), provides a variety of resources to both consumers and professionals, including free webinars, cooking videos and printable guides.

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